Return to Root: How to Get Started With Debian
Ubuntu, Mint, and other glamorous Debian derivatives get all the attention. So why not go to the source and try Debian itself?
Debian is currently the most influential Linux distribution. It has inspired the popular derivatives Ubuntu and Knoppix, and their derivatives including Mint, Kubuntu, Dream Studio, Bodhi, Mepis, Damn Small Linux, and Mythbuntu. (See the Linux family tree on Wikipedia.) Debian is volunteer-driven, includes more packages than any other distribution, supports more hardware architectures, supports multiple kernels (Linux, FreeBSD, and GNU Hurd) and is 100% Free. It is also free of cost, and the good Debian people came up with a simple, elegant way to meet the needs of users who want to install non-Free software on their Debian systems. They put non-Free packages in separate repositories, so controlling what goes on your system is super easy.
Controlling Debian Versions
Debian comes in four flavors: Stable, Testing, Unstable, and Experimental. Packages start out in Experimental, and migrate down through Unstable, Testing, and finally land in Stable.