Debian clearly is a distribution in the true spirit of the Open Source movement, non-commercial and in some respects even a-commercial, aimed primarily at hardcore Linux techies. Unfortunately the freakish nature also reflects on the distribution itself. From the Belgian distributor we received two self-cut CD-R discs without a manual, bootdisc or any other aid to help us install the product.
Debian have had the good sense to make the CD bootable, though in the case of x86 machines, only more recent Bios revisions actually support this. Our Netfinity 3000 server didn't so we had to search the CD for the proper rescue disc which we had to put on a floppy disc using rawrite. Many less seasoned users would have already jumped ship at this point.
Once you're past the bootup procedure you enter a menu system. After making the first selection, Debian itself suggests the next steps and it's always possible to step back. Additionally, experienced Linux-users have complete control over what happens (or goes wrong. This forces you to think carefully about every choice you make. This is not bad in itself, provided you have the technical skills to understand the implications of your choices.
The HTML-manuals, which can be found on the Internet and the CD, are quite good, as is the support that's offered by the Debian community through newsgroups and mailing lists. However, for the average user such support is far less accessible than the commercial support as offered by RedHat or SuSE.During the selection of the various applications that can be installed, Debian lends a helping hand. A menu offers a number of predefined forms of PC usage, such as server or scientific workstation, each with its own set of software packages. Experienced users can of course make their own choices. Pay attention when you want to add packages yourself, as Debian uses its own .deb format (where RedHat uses the more widespread RPM).
Support for Debian 2.1 (aka Slink)is mostly via the Web site, newsgroups, and mailing lists. The Kernel-version 2.2.5 and the software bundle includes 2500 utilities and applications.