DebianVendor.org Free
as in
Freedom

Welcome - DebianVendor.org
I distribute copies of free software on disc for a fee. In particular, I'm a Debian vendor.

However, I'm currently out of the country and will not be accepting orders again till I return on June 11. I'm spending a month in Porto Alegre, Brazil, during which I will attend DebConf 4 and FISL.

For all supported architectures I offer the official Debian stable release and also weekly snapshots of the testing release. If you're interested in either, please check back after June 11.

This page has some useful information below. If this is your first time at DebianVendor.org, please read my Statement of Principles. If you are new to free software or new Debian, read About Free Software, GNU/Linux, and Debian

In keeping with my principles for DebianVendor.org, I plan to host and link to numerous essays on the philosophy and politics of free software. However, at the moment I am still working on this section of the website. In the mean time, I recommend the philosophy section of the GNU website.

DebianVendor.org Statement of Principles
My first principle for DebianVendor.org is to distribute copies of free software only in combination with exposure to the politics and philosophy of free software, so that those who buy copies from me are likely to become not just users of free software, but informed advocates.

My second principle is to distribute copies of (and therefor promote) only free software distributions that seem sufficiently committed to the principles of free software, and to favor community produced distributions over corporate produced ones. This is why Debian GNU/Linux and Debian GNU/Hurd will be the primary (and perhaps only) distributions offered.

My third principle is to use only free software in operating DebianVendor.org, from the web design to the hosting to the production of the discs.

My fourth principle is to use income from DebianVendor.org to support my own unpaid work on the development and promotion of free software, and my work on other social justice projects. (This site is currently my only source of income.)

About Free Software, GNU/Linux, and Debian
Free software is software published under any license that grants you these four freedoms:
1. The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.

2. The freedom to study how the program works, and to adapt it to your needs (access to the source code is a precondition for this).

3. The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbors.

4. And the freedom to improve the program, and to release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (access to the source code is a precondition for this).

Free software is "free" as in "freedom". When they first hear the term, many think free software has only to do with price. The ability to acquire free software without paying a fee is a result of the freedom to share it with others, but there are other freedoms, all equally important. For example, you can download free software via the Internet and pay nothing. However, because it is often more convenient, many people pay to have copies of free software mailed to them on compact disc. But it is still free software, even if you pay for a copy. Think of it this way: if you buy a copy of Debian GNU/Linux from me, I'm sharing the software with you (which I'm free to do), and you're paying me for the service of downloading it from the Internet, burning it on CD, and mailing it to you. Free software is free because of the license under which it is published and the freedoms it grants you, regardless of how you acquire it.

If you are someone wishing to learn computer science, there is no better resource than free software. Among other freedoms, free software grants you access to the source code, the human-readable code in which programs are written. Studying well written programs, and adding new features you would like them to have, is an important part of learning computer science. This can only be done with access to the source code, something non-free software doesn't offer.

To use a computer you need an operating system, the basic tools needed to control your computer and run other programs. GNU/Linux is an operating system that is entirely free software. It is a widely used alternative to non-free (or proprietary) operating system such as Windows and MacOS.

Many people mistakenly call GNU/Linux simply "Linux". Linux is only the kernel, an important component of an operating system, but one that is useless without many other components. Most of these other components were developed by the GNU project. Importantly, the GNU project also developed the philosophy of free software and the licenses under which most free software, including Linux, is published.

The GNU project was starting in 1983 by Richard Stallman with the goal of making a free Unix-like operating system. By the early 1990's, the GNU system was nearly complete except for a kernel. In 1991 Linus Torvalds wrote Linux, a free Unix-compatible kernel, which was then incorporated into the GNU system to form a complete free operating system, GNU/Linux. Since then, both the GNU components and the Linux kernel have matured greatly and a wide rage of free application software has been developed. GNU/Linux, with this body of free application software, now offers everything from easy-to-use graphical desktop environments to sophisticated scientific software.

Debian is a particular GNU/Linux distribution, an expert assemblage of the many necessary components into a functional system. It is developed by a highly skilled group of over 1000 volunteers from all over the world. While there are dozens of other GNU/Linux distributions, Debian has many advantages, perhaps most notably these:

First, Debian is a non-profit organization. Most GNU/Linux distributions are made by for-profit companies, who time and again have demonstrated their willingness to seek greater profit for themselves at the expense of their users' freedom. Though all based on GNU/Linux, which is free software, many of these companies release the distribution specific software that they write, such as installation programs, under a non-free license. They profit from the work of the free software community but contribute nothing in return, and they prevent their users from enjoying the benefits of an entirely free distribution. They often include non-free software from other companies as well, marketed under the empty and deceptive phrase "value-added packages". And they often include non-free hardware drivers, endorsing rather than boycotting hardware manufacturers who provide binary only, non-free drivers and refuse to release information detailed enough to allow free drivers to be written. Debian, in contrast, is so committed to the development and promotion of free software, that they formalized it in the Debian Social Contract, which states, among other things, that Debian, including it's distribution specific components, will remain 100% free software.

Second, Debian is rather unanimously regarded as the highest quality GNU/Linux distribution available. In no small part this quality is because Debian is non-profit. With profit in mind, commercial distributions try to market their product as the latest and greatest by including the newest versions of all GNU/Linux software. Competing companies are caught in an unending race to out-new each other. While the features and usability of free software steadily improve, substantial testing and refinement is needed before a new version of any program reaches acceptable levels of stability and security. By short-cutting this testing process, commercial distributions hope to lure customers with the ever effective gimmick of newness. But Debian is about freedom and quality, not gimmicks. A new version of Debian is released only when it's developers feel it really is ready.

Third, of all GNU/Linux distributions, Debian includes the largest body of free software. Much more than just a bare operating system, it includes over 8710 "packages", software prepared for easy installation on your Debian-base computer. This comprehensive collection includes nearly every free program that is regarded as mature enough for everyday use, all extensively tested to insure trouble free interaction with the rest of the system. If you are wanting to switch from a non-free operating system such as Windows or MacOS, you will find that Debian includes comparable free application software to replace most everything you likely use. You can use Debian to browse the web, email, word process, listen to music, watch videos, play games, and so on. And the Debian package management system allows you to easily install or remove any packages in the distribution, in a completely consistent manner.

And fourth, of all GNU/Linux distributions, Debian supports the largest number of different computer architectures. Again with profit in mind, commercial distributions tend only to support the most popular architectures. But why should a person with an older or less common type of computer be unable to use free software? Why should the free software community help prop-up the monopolies of certain hardware manufacturers? Debian currently supports ten different computer architectures, everything from early home computers to modern, high-end servers.

When it comes to installing Debian, you have three options: have someone make you a copy of the Debian CD's; download and burn the Debian CD's yourself; or download only the installation system, and get the rest by downloading it as you install. If you don't have fast Internet access, the first is your only option, which is also the easiest option and therefor best for beginners. If you do have fast Internet access and are up to the task, see Getting Debian for information on the last two options.

If you know someone who already uses Debian, you could borrow that persons CD's or ask that person to make you a copy (plus you could ask for help installing it). Otherwise, you will need to order a copy from a vendor.

I encourage you to consider purchasing your CD's from me at DebianVendor.org, and this is why:

Many Debian vendors are nothing more than clearing houses for GNU/Linux distributions. They offer any and all distributions, even distributions that include non-free software or have otherwise questionable policies. They are run by people guided by profit, not principles.

I run DebianVendor.org not because I wish to make a lot of money; I run it because I need a way to make enough money to survive, but still have most of my time for my own unpaid work on the development and promotion of free software. I try to run it in the way best for the free software community and best for promoting everyone's freedom. I consider the contrast between some Debian vendors and myself similar to the contrast between commercial GNU/Linux distributions and Debian: some are after money; others want to make a better world. In the spirit of the Debian Social Contract, I have written the DebianVendor.org Statement of Principles.

Even if you decide not to purchase CD's from me, please choose a vendor that accepts donations to Debian. Even if you personally do not plan to make a donation, it is best to support vendors that support free software. (Debian maintains a list of vendors here.)

It can't be stressed enough: free software is about freedom. In order to value and protect the freedoms free software gives you, it is important to learn about them. A good place to start is the philosophy section of the GNU website. In particular, these articles might be good places to start: The Free Software Definition, Copyleft: Pragmatic Idealism, and Why "Free Software" is better than "Open Source".

For more information about Debian GNU/Linux, see the About Debian page on the Debian website. For instructions on how to install Debian, see the Installation Manual.

Copyleft
Copyright (C) 2003, 2004 Jason Gerard DeRose

Everyone is granted permission to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document, in any medium, provided that the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved, and that the distributor grants the recipient permission for further redistribution as permitted by this notice.

Because the author of this page believes in freedom, it is best viewed with a free web browser (try Mozilla or Lynx) running on a free operating system (try Debian GNU/Linux).

last update: 2006-06-10