Debian (/ˈdɛbiən/) is the name for a Linux distribution that is composed primarily of free and open-source software, most of which is under the GNU General Public License, and packaged by a group of individuals known as the Debian project. At each point in time the Debian project offers three branches named “stable”, “testing” and “unstable”.
The Debian Stable distribution is one of the most popular for personal computers and network servers, and has been used as a base for several other Linux distributions.
Debian was first announced in 1993 by Ian Murdock, and the first stable release was made in 1996. The development is carried out over the Internet by a team of volunteers guided by a project leader and three foundational documents. New distributions are updated continually, and the next candidate is released after a time-based freeze.
As one of the earliest Linux distributions, it was envisioned that Debian was to be developed openly in the spirit of Linux and GNU. This vision drew the attention and support of the Free Software Foundation, which sponsored the project for the first part of its life.