People: Who we are and what we do
It was in August 1993, when Ian Murdock started working on a new operating system which would be made openly, in the spirit of Linux and GNU. He sent out an open invitation to other software developers, asking them to contribute to a software distribution based on the Linux kernel, which was relatively new back then. Debian was meant to be carefully and conscientiously put together, and to be maintained and supported with similar care, embracing an open design, contributions, and support from the Free Software community.
It started as a small, tightly-knit group of Free Software hackers and gradually grew to become a large, well-organized community of developers, contributors, and users.
Debian is an all-volunteer organization. More than thousand active developers spread around the world work on Debian in their spare time. Few of us have actually met in person. Instead, we communicate primarily through email (mailing lists at lists.debian.org) and IRC (channel #debian at irc.debian.org).
Apart from developers and contributors, many other individuals and organizations are part of the Debian community:
- Hosting and hardware sponsors
- Mirror sponsors
- Development and service partners
- Vendors of Debian installation media
- Computer vendors offering pre-installed Debian machines
- Merchandise vendors
Debian is used by a wide range of organizations, large and small, as well as many thousands of individuals. See our Who's using Debian? page for a list of educational, commercial, and non-profit organizations as well as government agencies which have submitted short descriptions of how and why they use Debian.