What is Debian?

Debian, one of the most prominent Free Software projects, is a Linux-based operating system which you can install on your computer free-of-charge instead of macOS or Windows.

Debian plans to host its 2020 conference at the University of Haifa in Israel, despite the BDS Movement’s call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions complicit in the oppression of Palestinians.

What is Free Software?

The Free Software Foundation explains the concept:

Free software is software [apps, programs, operating systems, etc] that gives you the user the freedom to share, study and modify it. We call this free software because the user is free… To use free software is to make a political and ethical choice asserting the right to learn, and share what we learn with others. Free software has become the foundation of a learning society where we share our knowledge in a way that others can build upon and enjoy.

And from the Debian project:

Many people new to free software find themselves confused because the word “free” in the term “free software” is not used the way they expect. To them free means “at no cost”. An English dictionary lists almost twenty different meanings for “free”. Only one of them is “at no cost”. The rest refer to liberty and lack of constraint. When we speak of Free Software, we mean freedom, not price.

Is Free Software political?

The Free/Open Source Software movement started with two words, “Free Unix!”

Since then, the movement has been fighting for a world of security, camaraderie and joy, with human freedom as the ultimate goal, and software as the tool to achieve it. Free Software is inherently political because it has a social component and it doesn’t put technology above that goal. As a community, when there is non-free software, we reject it, we create better solutions, and we lead the way forward based on our ideals.

What’s important about Debian?

Millions of people use Debian, and for nearly 30 years it has succeeded as community-run project with thousands of contributors worldwide. This popularity and success is partly because Debian represents the ideals of the Free Software movement. One of the foundational documents, the Debian Social Contract, lists some essential stances:

  • We will not hide problems
  • Our priorities are our users and free software
  • No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups

As well as being directly democratic and strongly independent, it is precisely this capacity for moral leadership that distinguishes Debian and earns it the love and trust of users and contributors.