TurnKey Linux Virtual Appliance Library
General

TurnKey is 100% free software and by free we mean in the important sense of freedom not price. Free as in free speech, not free beer.

That means TurnKey is free from restrictive proprietary licensing, free from hidden backdoors and free to use, learn from, modify and distribute. See the licensing page for full details.

Without the values and fruits of free software, the Internet wouldn't exist and neither would this project. If you care about living in a free society, enjoying free speech and the freedom of the Internet - you should care about free software too.

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  • Selection: the largest free software repository. Over 37,500 packages.

  • Security: all packages are supported with carefully backported security updates that can be safely installed automatically.

  • Stability: Debian has a well deserved reputation for rock solid stability. Other distributions are often not even comparable to the Debian testing branch.

  • Free: Debian is 100% free software. Free from hidden backdoors, free to use, learn from, modify and redistribute.

  • Community: Debian is powered by the world's oldest, largest and most vibrant free software non-profit organization. Debian democratically governs itself using the Debian Social Contract as its constitution.

    There are over 1000 passionately committed Debian Developers worldwide. Debian also has the largest ecosystem of derivative distributions. The focus is on development not marketing, which has created a paradoxical situation in which the branding of Debian based distributions such as Ubuntu is better known in certain circles (e.g., commercial industry) than Debian itself.

  • No central point of failure: many other commercially sponsored Linux distributions have a central point of failure. They are largely dependent on the success and continued independence of their commercial sponsor in a competitive marketplace. As a non-profit organization Debian can not fail in the marketplace or get bought out. Debian has been around for more than 20 years and it will be around in another 20. The same can not be said for other Linux distributions.

Alon Swartz and Liraz Siri started TurnKey GNU/Linux in 2008. Like many aspiring young hackers of their generation, they grew up at the dawn of the modern Internet and were hungry to unlock its secrets. They soon discovered free software and the community of highly talented philanthropist programmers behind it, without which the Internet as we know it would not be possible.

This was a revelation and a deeply transformative educational experience that would eventually inspire TurnKey years later, first as a side project and later as full time mission to give back to the tradition that gave so much to them while maximizing the amount of good they could do with the resources they had to work with.

Why is promoting free software important?  Because the benefits of free software extend well beyond price or economical utility. It's about freedom. Freedom to have full control over your computing. Freedom to inspect the inner workings of the software you use. Freedom from hidden NSA backdoors. Freedom to learn and innovate without having to ask anyone for permission.

Because unlike with proprietary software, free software is free to use, modify and distribute. You can make it better! It comes with full source code. There is no secret sauce, nothing you are not allowed to understand. You can learn how computers work inside out by studying source code for any component of the GNU/Linux operating system. It's a priceless educational resource that allows aspiring hackers to learn from some of the best programmers in the world. People who love their craft so much they literally do it for free. That apply to software engineering the noble scientific tradition of open, borderless collaboration and the free sharing information that has been the basis of all modern technological progress.

See also:

In a nutshell: trust, but verify.

Trust (the short version): we have a reputation to maintain and are not naive regarding the risks. Since 2008, we've poured our hearts and souls into TurnKey. Over a million images have been downloaded. It's a free software project. Full source code for everything is available. You can use the build system to build any solution in the library from scratch. There's no place for bad stuff to hide. If there was any funny business going on, someone would have surely discovered our evil plans by now.

Verify: Since TurnKey GNU/Linux solutions are built mostly from from unmodified Debian binaries, it is possible for anyone to verify the integrity of the binaries that make up a solution against the original package signatures from the official Debian repositories.

Custom TurnKey packages are updated from our cryptographically signed package repository.  Full source code for all custom components is available on GitHub, and so is the source code to all the appliances.

To prevent tampering, we sign all releases so that users can cryptographically verify the integrity of their downloads. Also, our virtual appliances are configured to automatically verify the cryptographic integrity of any package (including custom components) that is installed through the package management system (e.g., automatic security updates).

In other words, users should be able to trust a TurnKey installation as much as they trust a normal general-purpose installation of Debian.

If there is anything else we can do to satisfy our more paranoid users, please let us know.

See the iso2usb blog post for details.