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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 <ulink url="http://w3techs.com/">W3Techs</ulink>, 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!
Debian 作为一款非常成功的操作系统,在不经意间已经渗透到我们数字生活的方方面面。一组数据可以充分证明这一点,Debian 是当时 Web 服务器端最流行的 GNU/Linux 发行版: 根据 <ulink url="http://w3techs.com/">W3Techs</ulink> 的数据,有超过10%的网页背后运行着 Debian 。试想一下:今年你错过了多少网页没有 Debian 参与?再来说个更有趣的,Debian 被部署在了国际空间站上。你曾经是否关注过国际空间站的宇航员,也许是通过 NASA 的社交网络亦或是其他国际组织?这些正是因为有了 Debian 才成为可能。无数的公司、高校,以及其他公共管理机构每天与 Debian 打交道,将这些服务传递给全球数以万计的用户……以及地球轨道上的国际空间站!
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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 — and Debian is used in all of the above scenarios; you should control it. People without in-depth software knowledge should enjoy those freedoms too: they should be able to delegate to people of their choice, people they trust, the audit or modification of software-based devices on their behalf.
尽管作为一个操作系统,Debian 复杂完善,可靠,有各种性能及特点,但 Debian 又不仅仅是一个操作系统。Debian 又是一个自由的王国,在这个王国中,人们应当享受依赖软件来完成日益复杂的日常任务的生活。关于自由的软件的理念认为,用户应该能直接的控制他们的电脑,而不是通过其他迂回的方式。而 Debian 就诞生于这种理念。拥有足够电脑知识的用户应该能够拆分,修改,重组他们感兴趣的软件,并同他人共享。只要用户能够直接的控制电脑,控制软件,那么无论这些软件是在做在网上发布小猫的图片这些日常琐事,还是替我们驾驶汽车,或是完成驱动医疗设备这样性命攸关的大事,就显得不再那么重要了。而那些相对不了解电脑知识的人也应能享受到 Debian 的自由:这些人将能够对他们所信任的,拥有审计和修改软件能力的人授权,被他们代表。
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In the quest for the control of people over machines, Free operating systems play a fundamental role: you cannot be in full control of a computer device if you do not control its operating system. This is where Debian's main ambition comes from: producing the best, entirely Free operating system. For more than 20 years now, Debian has both developed a Free operating system and promoted a vision of Free Software around it. In so doing, Debian has set a very high bar for software freedom advocates around the world. Debian's decisions on matters of software licensing, for example, are routinely looked to by international standard organizations, governments, and other Free Software projects, when deciding if something should be considered “free enough” or not.
在人们控制机器的问题上,自由免费的操作系统中发挥着基础性作用:如果你不能控制计算机的操作系统,你就不能完全控制计算机设备。这是 Debian 的主要愿景来源:开发最好的,完全自由免费的操作系统。20多年来,Debian 既开发了一个自由免费的操作系统,同时也推动了其周边发展自由软件的愿景。如此,Debian 为世界各地的自由软件倡导者树立了很高的标杆。当考虑某件事情是否应该被认为“足够自由“的时候,Debian 所作的决定,例如软件许可事项,常常会被国际标准组织、政府和其他自由软件项目作为参考。
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But this political vision is not yet enough to explain Debian's uniqueness. Debian is also a very peculiar social experiment, strongly attached to its independence. Think for a moment of other mainstream Free Software distributions, or even of popular <emphasis>proprietary</emphasis> operating systems. Chances are that you can associate each of them with a large company that is either the main development force behind the project, or at the very least the steward of all its non-development activities. Debian is different. Within the Debian Project volunteers pack on themselves the responsibilities of all the activities that are needed to keep Debian alive and kicking. The variety of those activities is stunning: from translations to system administration, from marketing to management, from conference organization to artwork design, from bookkeeping to legal issues... not to mention software packaging and development! Debian contributors take care of all of these.
但是这样的政治愿景仍不足以解释 Debian 的独特之处。Debian 也是一个非常独特的社会实验,这与其独立性紧密相关。请试着考虑一下其它主流的基于自由软件的发行版,或者甚至是流行的<emphasis>专有</emphasis>操作系统。您很可能发现它们每一个都和一个大型企业有所关联:这些企业或是其项目背后的主要开发力量,或至少是其所有非开发活动的组织者。Debian 则不一样。在 Debian 项目中, 志愿者自己担负起责任,组织所有让 Debian 项目存活并发展所必需的活动。这些活动五花八门,足以让人头昏脑胀:从翻译到系统管理,从市场营销到项目管理,从会议组织到艺术设计,从账务记录到法律事务……更不要提还有最基础的软件打包和开发呢!然而,Debian 贡献者们肩负起了这些所有的事情。
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As a first consequence of this radical form of independence, Debian needs and relies on a very diverse community of volunteers. Any skill in any of the above areas, or others you can imagine, can be invested into Debian and will be used to improve the project. A second consequence of Debian independence is that Debian's choices can be trusted not to be driven by the commercial interests of specific companies — interests that we have no guarantee will always be aligned with the goal of promoting people's control over machines, as too many recent examples in the tech news testify.
作为这种以独立为根本的组织形式的第一个结果,Debian 需要并依赖于具有高度多样性的社区志愿者。任何上述领域的技能,或者其它你可以想象到的方面,都能够应用于 Debian 中并让项目得到改善与提高。Debian 独立性的第二个结果是,Debian 的选择能够被确信是不受特定企业的商业利益所左右的——这些利益并不会永远与我们希望增进人们对机器的控制这一目标保持一致。近期的技术新闻中有太多类似的例子可以证明这一点。

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