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My understanding is that Debian and all the software available in the matching online repo (eg: https://packages.debian.org/stable/allpackages) are released together on a series of disc images (alternatively you can just download the first disc and use apt-get to download individual packages), however when I look in http://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/7.4.0/amd64/iso-dvd/ there are only 3 dvd images which seems a little on the small side for thousands of applications. Is the entire repo on those discs, or just the most popular applications?

I have already looked at the section on cds here: www.debian.org/CD/faq/#which-cd and it simply talks about how the discs arranged with the the most popular applications first, but doesn't say if all applications are included.

EDIT:

I've been browsing some of the http/ftp mirrors and most of them have 3 iso, but I found some that have more. This one has 10: ftp://debian.mirror.iweb.ca/debian-cd/7.4.0/amd64/iso-dvd/

How many isos is there in total?

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These DVDs contain all the binary packages in main. See, for example Where is the CD image with non-free?, which explains why non-free software is not included. For the purposes of this question, we can consider both the non-free and contrib section of the archives to be non-free software. The contrib section corresponds to software that is itself free, but depends on software that is non-free. Therefore the software in the contrib section is not included, since it does not make sense to include it without the software in the non-free section.

The size of the DVD images may appear to be (relatively) small, but bear in mind that Debian binary packages are compressed. Historically gzip has been used, but more recently more efficient compression formats like xz have begun to be used as well. Therefore, these packages will take up much more space once installed to disk.

For the record, I'm copying the text of that FAQ below.

Where is the CD image with non-free?

Debian has a quite strict view with regard to the licenses of software: Only software that is Free in the sense of the Debian Free Software Guidelines is allowed into the actual distribution. All the other, non-free software (for example, software for which source code is not available) is not supported officially.

The official CDs may freely be used, copied and sold by anyone anywhere in the world. Packages of the non-free category have restrictions that conflict with this, so these packages are not placed on the official CDs.

Sometimes, someone is kind enough to create unofficial non-free CDs. If you cannot find any links on this website, you can try asking on the debian-cd mailing list.

EDIT: It looks like there are indeed 10 DVD images. However, some mirrors only make the first 3 available, on the assumption that those will be enough. I have not been able to find an official source for this, but see Steve's Debian CDs/DVDs page.This says

Wheezy (7.4.0) discs:

Wheezy, the latest stable Debian release...!

Wheezy takes a different number of CDs/DVDs/BDs depending on the architecture. Check the lists at http://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/ to see exactly how many, and which packages fit on which disc(s).

As a guide, amd64 or i386 take 10 DVDs each if you want the whole set, but it's not likely that you will want them all. For most people, a set of just the first 2 or 3 DVDs is likely to include all the bits you'll need. All the source fits on 8 DVDs.

You can find a list of the DVD contents at http://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/7.4.0/amd64/list-dvd/

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