Debian ( is a popular linux distribution. It's main interest is the .Deb package system.

This distribution is the base of other distribution like Ubuntu.

Install Debian Stable

The sable version is mainly used for servers, package version are fixed and only updated for security issues.

You can download the CD or the netinstall directly at

Install Debian Testing

The testing version is the intermediate version of Debian. Package are first tested in the Debian Unstable then migrated to Testing.

There is two ways to install it :

Upgrade Debian Stable to Testing

Update /etc/apt/source.list :

  • replace the distribution name (for example “lenny”) to testing
  • add “contrib non-free” to get extra packages

Sample of /etc/apt/source.list :

deb testing main contrib non-free
deb-src testing main contrib non-free

deb testing/updates main contrib non-free

Then execute :

# apt-get update
# apt-get dist-upgrade

After the install of new package, you got an brand new testing version :-)

Hints and tips

Some advices to improve Debian usage.

When installing, choice “base system” and “ssh server” at the task selection. You will get the most important packages then you can choice your own package for advance features.

There is several tools to choice which package to install :

  • apt-get : main command line tool using the repository
  • dpkg : manual installation of a package
  • dselect : ncurse interface to browse package list and install them (remplaced by aptitude)
  • aptitude : new ncurse interface to browse and install packages
  • synaptic (X) : graphical interface (under X) equivalent to aptitude
  • tasksel : simple metapackage choice, it's the interface prompted during the install of Debian

I personnaly use aptitude because it's simple and powerful.

Shell tuning

Color and shortcuts are not enabled by default. To enable them, edit ~/.bashrc and uncomment the following lines :

# ~/.bashrc: executed by bash(1) for non-login shells.

export PS1='\h:\w\$ '
umask 022

# You may uncomment the following lines if you want `ls' to be colorized:
export LS_OPTIONS='--color=auto'
eval "`dircolors`"
alias ls='ls $LS_OPTIONS'
alias ll='ls $LS_OPTIONS -l'
alias l='ls $LS_OPTIONS -lA'

# Some more alias to avoid making mistakes:
alias rm='rm -i'
alias cp='cp -i'
alias mv='mv -i'

Changes will apply to all new session.

Configure APT sources

You can select package sources by editing /etc/apt/sources.list.

  • To add branches contrib and non-free, add “contrib non-free” at the end of lines.
  • To add multimedia packages, see Multimédia on Linux

Sample :

deb testing main contrib non-free
deb-src testing main contrib non-free

deb testing/updates main contrib
deb-src testing/updates main contrib

Useful Packages

Some useful packages not install by default :

  • openssh-server : serveur ssh
  • vim
  • ntpdate
  • cifs-utils


en/linux/debian.txt · Last modified: 2011/01/08 13:15 by matthieu
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