This is an effort to give a basic overview of the Debian system and frequently asked questions and how people new to Debian can help them selves as much as possible. Also to explain what is expected of new users in terms of forum etiquette and effort. People here are friendly and helpful but due to the very nature of Debian you are expected to put effort into solving any problems you encounter. This is an effort to get you under way in how to be a good community member and contribute something back! If after trying something you do get stuck or are worried you may do damage or loose data, please post. No one here would want you to wipe out your wedding photos for the sake of asking.
In my effort here, I'll layout my concept. I'll try and make this guide be as sequential as possible. So new users get a basic grasp of things in order in a few sentences with more detailed answers in the links. Basically “Bite sized chunks” linking to FAQ or good how to's that already exist. Maybe some existing how to's should be incorporated? Should info in this refer to “stable only”? Should it at freeze time be updated from info in the forums? Anyway I'll bash on.
A beginners guide to Debian
What is Debian?
Debian is an operation system similar to Microsoft windows and Mac OSX. It has several major differences. It's Free it terms of liberty and cost and you are free to contribute to it. Due to the number of different architectures it runs on, it's flexibility and power it is referred to as “The Universal operating system” http://www.debian.org/intro/abouthttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debianhttp://d-i.alioth.debian.org/manual/en. ... 01s03.html
Debian gives you the choice of several kernels the most popular being the Linux kernel. The kernel is the software that interacts between your physical hardware and passes information to your application software. Debian tweaks the vanilla kernel for you. but you can make your own modifications with tools Debian provide or use a vanilla kernel. http://www.kernel.org/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_kernel
Many of the programmes used to write applications were created using the GNU tools.http://www.gnu.org/
All the software in the Debian system is free software that complies with the Debian Free Software Guidelines.(DFSG) http://www.debian.org/social_contract#guidelines
The Debian project recognises the valuable input of both the GNU system and Linux kernel in the full name of the Debian OS. “Debian GNU/Linux”.
How owns Debian? You could say “No one” or “You do”. Unlike most other distributions there is no company or magnanimous dictator behind it. It's users create it and share it. This is why you are encouraged to give back by what ever means you can. Be it programming, graphic design, documentation or sharing you knowledge in the forum. http://www.debian.org/social_contract
To find out more about Debian finances see here. If you can only give back money. That's fine too. http://www.debian.org/donations http://www.spi-inc.org/
Applications that are deemed stable and free enough to be in the Debian system are stored on “repositories” (servers) that are mirrored (duplicated) around the world. Here is a list of official Debian mirrors.http://www.debian.org/mirror/list
There are unofficial mirrors also. These may hold software that has possible paten issues in the USA where Debian is based. These issues may not apply in your country. Some DVD and mp3 software are examples that are not in the official but readily available.
Most people will have i386 computers, but not all!. As a new user your first task is to make sure you gather as much detail as you can about you system. If you still using another OS use that to gather as much info as you can. Information like Processor type, Graphics card make and model, HD type, is it an ide drive, SCSI, etc. Your network card and wifi, Your monitor, find out what screen resolutions it supports. In short gather as much info as you can on you hardware and write it down or print it out.
Getting-installing software: Apt:aptitude:dpkg:
The graphical display (X window system):
The command line:http://linuxcommand.org/
How to search the forum and the web
The basic system file structure:
The concept of Root and user:
Desktop environments: The concept.
Desktop environments: available repackaged on CD
XFCE: and LXDE:
Desktop environments: available from the repositories.
Building your own system with a net install:
Window mangers: The concept:
Available window managers:
File managers: The concept:
Available file managers:
I don't want carry on if people think the idea is no good. If there seems to be a general liking for it I'll keep going adding stuff and suitable links. Obviously I'm no word-smith, so suggestions for improvements, deletions and additions welcome.