People: Who we are and what we do

How it all started

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.

Developers and Contributors

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 and IRC (channel #debian at

The complete list of official Debian members can be found on, and shows a list of all contributors and teams who work on the Debian distribution.

The Debian Project has a carefully organized structure. For more information on how the Debian project looks from the inside, please visit the Developers' Corner.

Individuals and Organizations supporting Debian

Apart from developers and contributors, many other individuals and organizations are part of the Debian community:

Debian Users

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.