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This chapter provides fundamental information on the Debian system for non-developers. For authoritative information, see:
Debian Policy Manual
Debian Developer's Reference
Debian New Maintainers' Guide
listed under References, Section 15.1.
If you are looking for less detailed "how-to" explanations, jump directly to Debian package management, Chapter 6 or other relevant chapters.
This chapter is based on documents taken from the "Debian FAQ", greatly reorganized to allow the ordinary Debian system administrator to get started.
The software that has been packaged for Debian is available in one of several
directory trees on each
mirror site through FTP or HTTP.
The following directories can be found on each Debian mirror site under the
This directory contains the "distributions", and this used to be the
canonical way to access the currently available packages in Debian releases and
pre-releases. Some old packages, the
Packages.gz files are still in here.
The new physical location for all packages of Debian releases and pre-releases.
DOS utilities for creating boot disks, partitioning your disk drive, compressing/decompressing files, and booting Linux.
The basic Debian documentation, such as the FAQ, the bug reporting system instructions, etc.
The Maintainers file and the override files.
mostly developer-only materials, such as:
This directory contains packages and tools which are still being developed, and are still in the alpha testing stage. Users shouldn't be using packages from here, because they can be dangerous and harmful even for the most experienced.
Packages that have been orphaned by their old maintainers, and withdrawn from the distribution.
Normally there are three Debian distributions in the
directory. They are named the stable distribution, the
testing distribution, and the unstable distribution.
Sometimes there was also a frozen distribution (currently it is
just a development stage of the testing distribution). Each distribution is
defined as a symlink to the actual directory with a codename in the
Package entries for the stable distribution, Debian Sarge (3.1r0),
are recorded into the
stable (symlink to
stable/main/: This directory contains the package versions
belonging to the most recent official release of the Debian system.
These packages are all free; that is, they all comply with the
Debian Free Software
Guidelines (DFSG) (also available as
/usr/share/doc/debian/social-contract.txt installed by
stable/non-free/: This directory contains packages that fail to
qualify as free according to the DFSG.
For example, some packages have licenses that prohibit commercial distribution. Others can be redistributed but are shareware.
stable/contrib/: Each package in this directory is itself
DFSG-free but somehow Depends on a package that is not
Now, in addition to the above locations, nowadays physical packages are located
pool directory (The
directory, Section 2.1.10).
The current status of stable distribution bugs is reported on the
Problems web page.
Package entries for the testing distribution, Debian Etch, are
recorded into the
testing (symlink to
directory after they have undergone some degree of testing in
unstable. Nowadays physical packages are located under the
pool directory (The
directory, Section 2.1.10). There are also
non-free subdirectories in
testing/, which serve the same functions as in
These packages must be in sync on all architectures where they have been built
and must be installable; they must also have fewer release-critical bugs than
the versions currently in unstable. This way, we hope that
testing is always close to being a release candidate. More
details of the testing mechanism are at
The latest status of the testing distribution is reported at these sites:
Package entries for the unstable distribution, always codenamed
"Sid", are recorded into the
unstable (symlink to
sid/) directory after they are uploaded to the Debian archive and
stay here until they are moved to
testing/. Nowadays physical
packages are located under the
pool directory (The
pool directory, Section 2.1.10). There
unstable/, which serve the same functions as in
The unstable distribution contains a snapshot of the most current development system. Users are welcome to use and test these packages, but are warned about their state of readiness. The advantage of using the unstable distribution is that you are always up-to-date with the latest in the Debian software project—but if it breaks, you get to keep both parts. :-)
The current status of unstable distribution bugs is reported on
Problems web page.
When the testing distribution is mature enough, it becomes frozen,
meaning no new code is accepted anymore, just bugfixes, if necessary. Also, a
new testing tree is created in the
dists directory, assigned a new
codename. The frozen distribution passes through a few months of testing, with
intermittent updates and deep freezes called "test cycles".
We keep a record of bugs in the frozen distribution that can delay a package from being released or bugs that can hold back the whole release. Once that bug count lowers to maximum acceptable values, the frozen distribution becomes stable, it is released, and the previous stable distribution becomes obsolete (and moves to the archive).
Physical directory names in the
dists directory, such as
etch/, are just "codenames".
When a Debian distribution is in the development stage, it has no version
number, but a codename instead. The purpose of these codenames is to make the
mirroring of the Debian distributions easier. (If
be a real directory and it's name would suddenly change to
stable/, a lot of stuff would have to be needlessly downloaded
stable/ is a symbolic link to
testing/ is a symbolic link to
etch/. This means
that Sarge is the current stable distribution and
Etch is the current testing distribution.
unstable/ is a permanent symbolic link to
Sid is always the unstable distribution.
Codenames that have already been used are: "Buzz" for release 1.1, "Rex" for release 1.2, "Bo" for releases 1.3.x, "Hamm" for release 2.0, "Slink" for release 2.1, "Potato" for release 2.2, "Woody" for release 3.0, and "Sarge" for release 3.1.
So far they have been characters taken from the movie Toy Story by Pixar.
Buzz (Buzz Lightyear) was the spaceman,
Rex was the tyrannosaurus,
Bo (Bo Peep) was the girl who took care of the sheep,
Hamm was the piggy bank,
Slink (Slinky Dog) was the toy dog,
Potato was, of course, Mr. Potato Head,
Woody was the cowboy,
Sarge was a leader of the Green Plastic Army Men,
Etch (Etch-a-Sketch) was the blackboard,
Sid was a boy next door who destroyed toys.
Historically, packages were kept in the subdirectory of
corresponding to the distribution that contained them. This turned out to
cause various problems, such as large bandwidth consumption on mirrors when
major changes were made.
Packages are now kept in a large "pool", structured according to the name of the source package. To make this manageable, the pool is subdivided by section (main, contrib, and non-free) and by the first letter of the source package name. These directories contain several files: the binary packages for each architecture, and the source packages from which the binary packages were generated.
You can find out where each package is placed by executing a command like
apt-cache showsrc mypackagename and looking at the
"Directory:" line. For example, the
apache packages are
pool/main/a/apache/. Since there are so many
lib* packages, these are treated specially: for instance,
libpaper packages are stored in
dists directories are still used for the index files used by
Normally, you won't have to worry about any of this, as new
and probably older
dpkg-ftp will handle it seamlessly. If you
want more information, see the
implementation of package pools.
When the present-day Sid did not exist, the Debian archive site organization
had one major flaw: there was an assumption that when an architecture was
created in the current
unstable/, it would be released when that
distribution became the new stable. For many architectures that
wasn't the case, with the result that those directories had to be moved at
release time. This was impractical because the move would chew up lots of
The archive administrators worked around this problem for several years by
placing binaries for unreleased architectures in a special directory called
sid. When an architecture was released the first time there was a
link from the current
sid/, and from then
on they were created inside the
unstable/ tree as usual. This
layout was somewhat confusing to users.
With the advent of package pools (see The
directory, Section 2.1.10) during the Woody distribution development,
binary packages began to be stored in a canonical location in the pool,
regardless of the distribution, so releasing a distribution no longer causes
large bandwidth consumption on the mirrors (there is, however, a lot of gradual
bandwidth consumption throughout the development process).
Uploaded packages are first located at
being checked to insure that they really come from a Debian developer (and are
put in the
DELAYED subdirectory in the case of a Non-Maintainer
Upload (NMU)). Once a day, they are moved out of
In an emergency, you may want to install packages from
before they reach
While the most recent Debian distributions are kept under the
debian directory on each
Debian mirror site, archives
for older Debian distributions such as Slink are kept on
debian-archive directory on each Debian mirror site.
Older testing and unstable packages can be located at
Within each of the major directory trees (
dists/unstable/main, etc.), the binary package entries reside in
subdirectories whose names indicate the chip architecture for which they were
binary-all/, for packages which are architecture-independent.
These include, for example, Perl scripts, or pure documentation.
binary-platform/, for packages which execute on a
particular binary platform.
Please note that the actual binary packages no longer reside in these
directories, but in the top-level
pool directory. The index files
Packages.gz) have been kept, though,
for backwards compatibility.
For the actual binary architectures supported, see the Release Notes for each
distribution. They can be located at the Release Notes sites for
Source code is included for everything in the Debian system. Moreover, the license terms of most programs in the system require that source code be distributed along with the programs, or that an offer to provide the source code accompany the programs.
Normally the source code is distributed in the
which are parallel to all the architecture-specific binary directories, or more
recently in the
pool directory (see The
pool directory, Section 2.1.10). To retrieve the source code
without having to be familiar with the structure of the Debian archive, try a
command like apt-get source mypackagename.
Some packages, notably
pine, are only available in a source
package due to their licensing limitations. (Recently the
pine-tracker package has been provided to facilitate Pine
installation.) The procedures described in Port a package to the stable
system, Section 6.4.10 and Packaging, Section 13.10 provide ways
to build a package manually.
Source code may or may not be available for packages in the
non-free directories, which are not
formally part of the Debian system.
Packages generally contain all of the files necessary to implement a set of related commands or features. There are two types of Debian packages:
Binary packages, which contain executables, configuration
files, man/info pages, copyright information, and other documentation. These
packages are distributed in a Debian-specific archive format (see Debian package format, Section 2.2.2); they are
usually distinguished by having a .deb file extension. Binary
packages can be unpacked using the Debian utility
are given in its manual page.
Source packages, which consist of a .dsc file
describing the source package (including the names of the following files), a
.orig.tar.gz file that contains the original unmodified source in
gzip-compressed tar format, and usually a .diff.gz file that
contains the Debian-specific changes to the original source. The utility
dpkg-source packs and unpacks Debian source archives; details are
provided in its manual page.
Installation of software by the package system uses "dependencies"
which are declared by the package maintainers. These dependencies are
documented in the
control file associated with each package. For
example, the package containing the GNU C compiler (
on the package
binutils which includes the linker and assembler.
If a user attempts to install
gcc without having first installed
binutils, the package management system (dpkg) will print an error
message that it also needs
binutils, and stop installing
gcc. (However, this facility can be overridden by the insistent
dpkg(8).) For additional details, see Package dependencies, Section 2.2.8 below.
Debian's packaging tools can be used to:
manipulate and manage packages or parts of packages,
aid the user in the splitting of packages that must be transmitted through a limited-size medium such as floppy disks,
aid developers in the construction of package archives, and
aid users in the installation of packages which reside on a remote Debian archive site.
A Debian "package", or a Debian archive file, contains the executable files, libraries, and documentation associated with a particular program suite or set of related programs. Normally, a Debian archive file has a filename that ends in .deb. 
The internals of this Debian binary package format are described in the
deb(5) manual page. Because this internal format is subject to
change (between major releases of Debian), always use
for manipulating .deb files.
Through at least the Sarge distribution, all Debian archive files have been
manipulable by the standard Unix commands
dpkg commands are not available.
The Debian package filenames conform to the following convention:
where, usually, foo is the package name, ver is the upstream version number, rev is the Debian revision number, and arch is the target architecture. Files are easily renamed, of course. You can find out what package is really contained in any given file of name filename by running the following command:
dpkg --info filename
The Debian revision number is specified by the Debian developer or by whoever built the package. A change in revision number usually indicates that some aspect of the packaging has changed.
Files that are intended to be changeable by the local administrator are kept in
/etc/. Debian policy dictates that all changes to locally
configurable files be preserved across package upgrades.
If a default version of a locally configurable file is shipped in the package itself then the file is listed as a "conffile". The package management system does not upgrade conffiles that have been changed by the administrator since the package was last installed without getting the administrator's permission. On the other hand, if the conffile has not been changed by the administrator then the conffile will be upgraded along with the rest of the package. This is almost always desirable and so it is advantageous to minimize changes to conffiles.
To list the conffiles belonging to a package run the following command:
dpkg --status package
The list follows the "Conffiles:" line.
For more information about conffiles you can read the section of the Debian Policy Manual entitled "Configuration files". (See References, Section 15.1).
Debian maintenance scripts are executable scripts which are automatically run
before or after a package is installed. Along with a file named
control, all of these files are part of the "control"
section of a Debian archive file.
The individual files are:
This script executes before its package is unpacked from its Debian archive (.deb) file. Many "preinst" scripts stop services for packages which are being upgraded until their installation or upgrade is completed (following the successful execution of the "postinst" script).
This script typically completes any required configuration of a package once it has been unpacked from its Debian archive (.deb) file. Often, "postinst" scripts ask the user for input, and/or warn the user that if he accepts default values, he should remember to go back and reconfigure the package as the situation warrants. Many "postinst" scripts then execute any commands necessary to start or restart a service once a new package has been installed or upgraded.
This script typically stops any daemons which are associated with a package. It is executed before the removal of files associated with the package.
This script typically modifies links or other files associated with a package, and/or removes files created by it. (Also see Virtual packages, Section 2.2.7.)
Currently all of the control files can be found in the directory
/var/lib/dpkg/info. The files relevant to package
foo begin with the name "foo" and have file extensions
of "preinst", "postinst", etc., as appropriate. The file
foo.list in that directory lists all of the files that were
installed with the package foo. (Note that the location of these
files is a
dpkg internal, and may be subject to change.)
Each Debian package is assigned a priority by the distribution maintainers, as an aid to the package management system. The priorities are:
Required packages are necessary for the proper functioning of the system.
This includes all tools that are necessary to repair system defects. You must
not remove these packages or your system may become totally broken and you may
not even be able to use
dpkg to restore things. Systems with only
the Required packages are probably inadequate for most purposes, but they do
have enough functionality to allow the sysadmin to boot and install more
Important packages should be found on any Unix-like system.
Other packages without which the system will not run well or be usable will carry this priority. This does not include Emacs or X11 or TeX or any other large applications. These packages only constitute the bare infrastructure.
Standard packages are standard on any Linux system, including a reasonably small but not too limited character-mode system.
This is what will install by default if users do not select anything else. "Standard" does not include many large applications, but it does include Emacs (this is more a piece of infrastructure than an application) and a reasonable subset of TeX and LaTeX (if this turns out to be possible without X).
Optional packages include all those that you might reasonably want to install even if you are unfamiliar with them, and if you don't have specialized requirements.
This includes X11, a full TeX distribution, and lots of applications.
Extra packages either conflict with others with higher priorities, have little use to users who are unfamiliar with them, or have specialized requirements that make them unsuitable for "Optional".
Please note the differences among "Priority: required",
"Section: base" and "Essential: yes" in the package
description. "Section: base" means that this package is installed
before everything else on a new system. Most of the packages in "Section:
base" have the "Priority: required" or at least "Priority:
important", and many of them are tagged with "Essential: yes".
"Essential: yes" means that this package requires to specify an extra
force option to the package management system such as
removing from the system. For example,
makedev are "Priority: required" and "Section:
base" but are not "Essential: yes".
A virtual package is a generic name that applies to any one of a group of
packages, all of which provide similar basic functionality. For example, both
trn programs are news readers, and either
one should therefore satisfy the need of a program that requires a news reader
on the system in order to be useful. They are therefore both said to Provide
the "virtual package" called
Similarly, many packages such as
postfix, provide the functionality of a
mail transport agent. They are therefore said to Provide the virtual package
mail-transport-agent. If either one is installed, then any
program that Depends on the installation of a mail transport agent will be
satisfied by the existence of this virtual package.
Debian has a mechanism such that, if more than one package which Provides the
same virtual package is installed on a system, the system administrator can set
one as the preferred package. The relevant command is
update-alternatives, and is described further in Alternative commands, Section
The Debian packaging system handles dependency declarations which are used to express the fact that one package requires another package to be installed in order to work or in order to work better.
Package A Depends on Package B if B absolutely must be installed in order to use A. In some cases, A Depends not only on B, but on a specific version of B. In this case, the version dependency is usually a lower limit, in the sense that A Depends on any version of B more recent than some specified version.
Package A Recommends Package B if the package maintainer judges that most users would not want A without also having the functionality provided by B.
Package A Suggests Package B if B contains files that are related to and enhance the functionality of A. The same relationship is expressed by declaring that Package B Enhances Package A.
Package A Conflicts with Package B when A will not operate properly if B is installed on the system. "Conflicts" status is often combined with "Replaces".
Package A Replaces Package B when files installed by B are removed or overwritten by files in A.
Package A Provides Package B when all of the files and functionality of B are incorporated into A.
More detailed information on the use of each these terms can be found in the Packaging Manual and the Policy Manual.
dselect have more fine-grained
control over packages specified by Recommends and
apt-get, which simply pulls all the
packages specified by Depends and leaves all the packages
specified by Recommends and Suggests. Both
programs in modern form use APT as their back end.
dpkg always configures a package upon which another package
Depends before it configures the package that Depends on it. However,
dpkg normally unpacks archive files in arbitrary order,
independently of dependencies. (Unpacking consists of extracting files from
the archive file and putting them in the right place.) If, however, a package
Pre-Depends on another then the other package is unpacked and
configured before the one that Pre-Depends is even unpacked.  The use of this dependency is
kept to a minimum.
Package status can be "unknown", "install",
"remove", "purge", or "hold". These
"want" flags indicate what the user wanted to do with a package
(either by making choices in the "Select" section of
dselect, or by directly invoking
Their meanings are:
unknown - the user has never indicated whether he wants the package.
install - the user wants the package installed or upgraded.
remove - the user wants the package removed, but does not want to remove any existing configuration files.
purge - the user wants the package to be removed completely, including its configuration files.
hold - the user wants this package not to be processed, i.e., he wants to keep the current version with the current status, whatever that is.
There are two mechanisms for holding back packages from an upgrade, through
dpkg, or, beginning with Woody, through APT.
dpkg, first export the list of package selections:
dpkg --get-selections \* > selections.txt
Then edit the resulting file
the line containing the package you wish to hold, e.g.
Save the file, and reload it into
dpkg database with:
dpkg --set-selections < selections.txt
Or, if you know the package name to hold, simply run:
echo libc6 hold | dpkg --set-selections
This procedure holds packages at the install process of each package file.
The same effect can be obtained through
dselect. Simply enter the
[S]elect screen, find the package you wish to hold in its present state, and
press the `=' key (or `H'). The changes will take effect immediately after you
exit the [S]elect screen.
The APT system in the Woody distribution has a new alternative mechanism for
holding packages during the archive retrieval process using
Pin-Priority. See the manual page
apt_preferences(5), along with
Source packages are distributed in a directory called
you can either download them manually, or use
apt-get source foo
to fetch them (see the
apt-get(8) manual page on how to set up APT
for doing that).
For a package foo, you will need all of
foo_*.diff.gz to compile the source (note: there is no
.diff.gz for a Debian native package).
Once you have them, if you have the
dpkg-dev package installed,
$ dpkg-source -x foo_version-revision.dsc
will extract the package into a directory called foo-version.
Issue the following command to build the binary package:
$ cd foo-version $ su -c "apt-get update ; apt-get install fakeroot" $ dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot -us -uc
# su -c "dpkg -i ../foo_version-revision_arch.deb"
to install the newly built package. See Port a package to the stable system, Section 6.4.10.
For detailed information on creating new packages, read the New
Maintainers' Guide, available in the
maint-guide package, or
One of Debian's goals is to provide a smooth, secure and reliable upgrade
process. The packaging system alerts the administrator to important changes
and sometimes asks the administrator to take decisions. You should also read
the Release Notes; it is shipped on all Debian CDs and is available on the WWW
A practical guide to upgrades is provided in Debian package management, Chapter 6. This section merely provides an outline, beginning with the packaging tools.
This is the main program for manipulating package files; read
dpkg(8) for a full description.
dpkg comes with several primitive supplemental programs.
dpkg-deb: Manipulate .deb files.
dpkg-ftp: An older package file retrieval command.
dpkg-mountable: An older package file retrieval command.
dpkg-split: Splits a large package into smaller files.
dpkg-mountable have been superseded by
the introduction of the APT system.
APT (the Advanced Packaging Tool) is an advanced interface to the Debian
packaging system consisting of several programs whose names typically begin
apt-cdrom are the command-line tools for handling packages. These
also function as the user's "back end" programs to other tools, such
aptitude is the preferred tool for system maintenance.
For more information, install packages
aptitude and read
An alternative source of information is the
APT HOWTO. This
can be installed by
apt-get upgrade and apt-get dist-upgrade pull only
the packages listed under "Depends:" and overlook all the packages
listed under "Recommends:" and "Suggests:". To avoid this,
This program is a menu-driven user interface to the Debian package management
system. It is particularly useful for first-time installations and large-scale
For more information, read
Documentation for Beginners.
The kernel (filesystem) in Debian systems supports replacing files even while they're being used. When packages are upgraded any services provided by those packages are restarted if they are configured to run in the current runlevel. The Debian system does not require use of the single-user mode to upgrade a running system.
If you have manually downloaded package files to your disk (which is not
absolutely necessary, see above for the description of
APT), then after you have installed the packages, you can remove the
.deb files from your system.
If APT is used, these files are cached in the
/var/cache/apt/archives directory. You may erase them after
installation (apt-get clean) or copy them to another machine's
/var/cache/apt/archives directory to save downloading during
dpkg keeps a record of the packages that have been unpacked,
configured, removed, and/or purged, but does not (currently) keep a log of
terminal activity that occurred while a package was being so manipulated.
The simplest way to work around this is to run your
apt-get, etc., sessions within the
Like all Unixes, Debian boots up by executing the program
The configuration file for
init (which is
/etc/inittab) specifies that the first script to be executed
What happens next depends on whether the
sysv-rc package or the
file-rc package is installed. The following assumes that the
sysv-rc package is installed. (
file-rc contains its
/etc/init.d/rcS script and uses a file instead of symlinks in
rc directories to control which services are started in which runlevels.)
/etc/init.d/rcS file from the
runs all of the scripts in
/etc/rcS.d/ in order to perform
initialization such as checking and mounting file systems, loading modules,
starting the network services, setting the clock, and so on. Then, for
compatibility, it also runs all the files (except those with a `.' in the
/etc/rc.boot/. The latter directory is reserved for
system administrator use, and using it is deprecated. See System initialization, Section 9.1 and
levels and init.d scripts in the Debian Policy Manual for more info.
Debian does not use a BSD-style rc.local directory.
After completing the boot process,
init starts all services that
are configured to run in the default runlevel. The default runlevel is given
by the entry for id in
/etc/inittab. Debian ships
Debian uses the following runlevels:
1 (single-user mode),
2 through 5 (multiuser modes), and
0 (halt the system),
6 (reboot the system).
Runlevels 7, 8, and 9 can also be used but their rc directories are not populated when packages are installed.
Switch runlevels using the
When entering a runlevel all scripts in
/etc/rcrunlevel.d/ are executed. The first letter in
the name of the script determines the way in which the script
is run: scripts whose names begin with K are run with the argument
stop. Scripts beginning with S are run with the
argument start. The scripts are run in the alphabetical order of
their names; thus "stop" scripts are run before "start"
scripts and the two-digit numbers following the K or
S determine the order in which the scripts are run.
The scripts in
/etc/rcrunlevel.d are in fact just
symbolic links back to scripts in
/etc/init.d/. These scripts
also accept "restart" and "force-reload" as argument; the
latter methods can be used after a system has been booted in order to restart
services or force them to reload their configuration files.
# /etc/init.d/exim4 force-reload
Customizing runlevels is an advanced system administration task. The following advice holds for most services.
To enable service service in runlevel R create the
/etc/rcR.d/Sxyservice with target
../init.d/service. The sequence number xy
should be the sequence number that was assigned to the service when the package
To disable the service, rename the symbolic link so that its name begins with a K instead of with an S and its sequence number is 100 minus xy.
It is convenient to use a runlevel editor such as
ksysv for these purposes.
It is possible to delete the S symlink for a service in a
particular runlevel directory instead of renaming it. This does not disable
the service but leaves it in a "floating" state as far as the
sysv-rc init system is concerned: on runlevel changes the service
will be neither started nor stopped but will be left as it was, whether running
or not running. Note, however, that a service left in such a floating state
will be started if its package is upgraded whether or not it was running before
the upgrade. This is a known shortcoming of the current Debian system. Note
also that you should retain a service's K symlinks in runlevels 0
and 6. If you delete all the symlinks for a service then on upgrade the
service's package will restore the symlinks to their factory default state.
It is not advisable to make any changes to symlinks in
Debian offers several avenues to accommodate any wishes of the system administrator without breaking the system.
dpkg-divert, see The
dpkg-divert command, Section 6.5.1.
equivs, see The
equivs package, Section 6.5.2.
update-alternative, see Alternative commands, Section
make-kpkg can accommodate many boot loaders. See
make-kpkg(1) and Kernel (re)compile, Section 7.1.
Any files under
/usr/local/ belong to the system administrator and
Debian will not touch them. Most files under
conffiles and Debian will not overwrite them upon upgrade unless
the system administrator requests so explicitly.
The Debian system is internationalized and provides support for character display and entry in many languages, both within the console and under X. Many documents, manual pages, and system messages have been translated into a growing number of languages. During installation, Debian prompts the user to choose an installation language (and sometimes a local language variant).
If your installed system does not support all the language features you need, or if you need to change languages or install a different keyboard to support your language, see Localization (l10n), Section 9.7.
See The Linux kernel under Debian, Chapter 7.
One has to understand the Debian policy with respect to headers.
The Debian C libraries are built with the most recent stable releases of the kernel headers.
For example, the Debian-1.2 release used version 5.4.13 of the headers. This
practice contrasts with the Linux kernel source packages distributed at all
Linux FTP archive sites, which use even more recent versions of the headers.
The kernel headers distributed with the kernel source are located in
If you need to compile a program with kernel headers that are newer than those
libc6-dev, then you must add
-I/usr/src/linux/include/ to your command line when compiling.
This came up at one point, for example, with the packaging of the automounter
amd). When new kernels changed some internals dealing
amd needed to know about them. This required the
inclusion of the latest kernel headers.
Users who wish to (or must) build a custom kernel are encouraged to download
kernel-package. This package contains the script to
build the kernel package, and provides the capability to create a Debian
kernel-image package just by running the command
# make-kpkg kernel_image
in the top-level kernel source directory. Help is available by executing the command
# make-kpkg --help
and through the manual page
make-kpkg(1) and The Linux kernel under Debian, Chapter 7.
Users must separately download the source code for the most recent kernel (or
the kernel of their choice) from their favorite Linux archive site, unless a
kernel-source-version package is available (where version
stands for the kernel version). The Debian
initrd boot script
requires a special kernel patch called
Detailed instructions for using the
kernel-package package are
given in the file
modconf package provides a shell script
/usr/sbin/modconf) which can be used to customize the
configuration of modules. This script presents a menu-based interface,
prompting the user for particulars on the loadable device drivers in his
system. The responses are used to customize the file
/etc/modules.conf (which lists aliases, and other arguments that
must be used in conjunction with various modules) through files in
/etc/modules (which lists the
modules that must be loaded at boot time).
Like the (new)
Configure.help files that are now available to
support the construction of custom kernels, the
comes with a series of help files (in
provide detailed information on appropriate arguments for each of the modules.
kernel-image-NNN.prerm script checks to see whether
the kernel you are currently running is the same as the kernel you are trying
to de-install. Therefore you can safely remove unwanted kernel image packages
using this command:
# dpkg --purge --force-remove-essential kernel-image-NNN
(Replace NNN with your kernel version and revision number, of course.)
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Debian ReferenceCVS, Thu Jan 18 11:52:15 UTC 2007