The Debian Administrator’s Handbook Ed. 2013
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Debian is a very successful operating system, which is pervasive in our digital lives more than people often imagine or are aware of. A few data points will suffice to make this clear. At the time of writing Debian is the most popular GNU/Linux variant among web servers: according to W3Techs, more than 10% of the web is Debian-powered. Think about it: how many web sites would have you missed today without Debian? Onto more fascinating deployments, Debian is the operating system of choice on the International Space Station. Have you been following the work of ISS astronauts, maybe via the social network presence of NASA or other international organizations? Both the work in itself and the posts about it have been made possible by Debian. Countless companies, universities, and public administrations rely on Debian daily for their operations, delivering services to millions of users around the world... and its orbit!
But Debian is much more than an operating system, no matter how complex, featureful, and reliable such a system could be. Debian is a vision of the freedoms that people should enjoy in a world where more and more of our daily activities depend on software. Debian is born from the cardinal Free Software idea that people should be in control of their computers, and not the other way around. People with enough software knowledge should be able to dismantle, modify, reassemble and share with others all the software that matters to them. It doesn't matter if the software is used for frivolous activities like posting pictures of kittens on the Web, or for potentially life-threatening tasks such as driving our cars and powering the medical devices which cure us; you should control it. People without in-depth software knowledge, them too, should enjoy those freedom: they should be put in condition to delegate to people of their choice, people they trust, the audit or modification of software-based devices on their behalf.
The book you have in your hands is different. It's a free as in freedom book, a book which is up to Debian freedom standards for every aspects of your digital life. For a very long time, the scarce availability of books like this one has been a significant shortcoming of Debian. It meant that that there was little reading material that help spreading Debian and its values, while at the same time embodying those values and showing off their advantages. But it also meant, ironically, that we had little such material that we could distribute as part of Debian itself. This is the first reputable book to address this shortcoming. You can apt-get install this book, you can redistribute it, you can fork this book or, better, submit bug reports and patches for it, so that other in the future can benefit from your contributions. The “maintainers” of this book — who are also its authors — are longstanding members of the Debian Project, who grok the freedom ethos that permeates every aspect of Debian and know first-hand what it means to take on the responsibility for important parts of Debian. By releasing this Free book they are doing, once more, such a wonderful service to the Debian community.
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