Debian Linux, the world’s largest volunteer software project that counts its contributors in the thousands, released the sixth iteration of its Linux version, called Debian Squeeze.
Debian is famous for being the parent of the most popular Linux brand — Ubuntu, promoted by Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Thawte who sold his firm to Verisign eleven years ago for $575 million. A Linux distribution is essentially a family of open-source and sometimes non-opensource applications that are compatible with each other and may be used as a whole to create a working desktop or server or mobile operating system.
Debian, founded by Purdue University student Ian Murdock in 1993, is the most popular Linux distribution on the planet, when counted with others that ‘rebrand’ Debian, such as Ubuntu. According to Distrowatch — a magazine that tracks Linux families — both the top Linux flavors in the world are built from Debian while three out of the top four distributions are Debian or Debian-based.
Ubuntu and Mint uses the ‘unstable’ or ‘testing’ software packages within Debian, while Debian itself releases its core distribution only after it is fully satisfied that they are stable. As a result, Debian takes around 2.5 to 3 years between its releases of versions while Ubuntu takes 6 months and Mint is permanently based on either Ubuntu or the ‘testing’ branch of Debian.
The current release of Debian is the sixth since 1993 and is called ‘Squeeze’. It will be best suited for machines that are at least 6 months old, while the latest PCs will have to use either the ‘testing’ branch or Ubuntu, which stems from the ‘unstable’ branch.
Besides Debian, other major Linux distribution families are the Red Hat — which includes Fedora, Red Hat, Centos, Scientific Linux etc,; the Gentoo family, which includes Sabayon, besides Gentoo itself; the Slackware family — which includes Zenwalk and Vector Linux and the Suse family which itself was spun off from Slackware many years ago and the ‘Mandrake’ family which has Mandriva, PCLinuxOS, Unity and Mageia as its members.
Debian, Gentoo and Slackware are primarily non-profit led distributions, while Red Hat, Suse and Mandrake families are spearheaded by for-profit corporations and are considered more suitable for enterprises. Debian runs of the largest number of architectures, followed by Gentoo; while the others are primarily focused on PCs and servers.
More information and download links can be found here: http://www.debian.org/News/2011/20110205a