About this wiki page

This is intended to be a relatively quick-start / key reference guide to Debian SystemsAdministration
for experienced Linux SysAdmins that are inexperienced (or less experienced) with Debian SystemsAdministration.
It is written, at least in part, by Debian SysAdmins with as much as more than 20 years of Debian SysAdmin experience,
so hopefully one will find key useful information/advice/pointers/references here - and potentially avoid many common problems, missteps incorrect presumptions/assumptions, etc.

Note: at the moment this wiki page is very much a work-in-progress - intending/hopefully soon it will be getting flushed out with relevant outline of areas to be covered and then filled in with appropriate material/references/links. Note also - anchor tags may still be in quite a state of flux - so I wouldn't recommend linking to them ... at least not yet. However, I expect the page name not to be changed, so expecting that to be persistent and fine to link to.

Why / What is Debian?

In brief, and mostly unique to Debian:

What makes Debian a good / "bad" choice/fit for ...?

Debian feature/consideration



support lifecycle length

about 2-3 years, LTS about 5

exact end dates not highly predictable long in advance, LTS supports less


stable is highly stable

full support "only" about 2 to 3 years

most recent software / "rolling" release

stable+backports, testing, unstable

full support limited to stable (and oldstable for while)

easily know/determine software free/freedom

Absolutely! non-free not enabled by default

non-free not enabled by default

highly predictable release schedule

kind'a - freezes have schedule, releases projected, releases happen when darn good and ready

releases don't come out like clockwork per some highly predictable schedule well in advance

Debian support

excellent & free

Internet-only, no toll-free number, volunteers, not much hand-holding, no babysitting nor butt kissing

3rd party support


mostly not highly commonly used nor large, generally not free

3rd party / non-Debian software

can be installed/managed (e.g. via alien)

not as purpose-built or commonly used for installing lots of 3rd party software


more than 59,000 ready-to-use software packages, lots of options, mostly not forced by someone else's choices

Can't have everything installed at same time (e.g. some packages conflict)


very high

What, you want bugs to troubleshoot/fix?

publicly traded company?

not - can't be bought/sold, always free, can't be bought out

you can't buy it out

Security / Support / Lifecycle

What is supported, and for how long?

The overly short overly simplified and not-so-accurate version is roughly:

The much more accurate details:

Getting help/support


Package Management

sources.list file(s)

apt / apt-get / aptitude / ???



regular maintenance upgrades

major upgrades