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The Debian Project was founded in 1993 to create the Debian GNU/Linux distribution. Since then, the distribution has become quite prevalent, and in many polls rivals or exceeds Red Hat Linux in popularity. This chapter will discuss the Debian GNU/Linux distribution. However, there's an important caveat: This chapter only discusses a beta version of Debian 3.0. The final version was not released at the time this book was published. Even so, you will probably find the differences between the material in this chapter and the reality of the final Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 to be minor.
As was mentioned in Chapters 4 and 5, the goal of Part Two is to provide you with different perspectives and solutions to the problem of developing and using a distribution. This basic education and exposure to three example distributions will give you a base from which to draw when working with any distribution. At this point, you've read about two distributions: Red Hat Linux and Slackware Linux; after reading this chapter, you'll be familiar with Debian GNU/Linux as well, and one step closer to mastery. After this chapter, Part Three will discuss how to customize your system and install software on it.
Now, the idea here is that the more distributions you see, the better able you'll be to deal with any distribution. However, after a point enough is enough. Eventually you start seeing the same things over and over again, which really doesn't help that much. Between Slackware Linux and Red Hat Linux, you've almost reached that point. For example, Slackware uses the BSD model of init scripts, whereas Red Hat uses the SysV approach. Detailing yet another distribution's approach doesn't really pay off.
As a result, you'll find that this chapter is quite a bit shorter than Chapters 4 and 5. The reason is that in cases where Debian GNU/Linux is similar to Red Hat or Slackware Linux (or both), I simply cite any remaining differences and move on. However, I do go into full detail in cases where Debian does things differently.
The fact that this chapter is shorter than the others is evidence that my strategy is paying off. That is, now that you've seen two distributions, I can take a third and start pointing out places where your knowledge of the other distributions applies to this new distribution. This will allow you to focus on the areas where Debian is unique. Think of this chapter as a dry run for learning a new distribution.
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