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 Alpha :: A [[#port|port]] (formerly a [[#release-architecture|release architecture]]) using the Linux kernel on (Compaq/Digital) Alpha hardware  Alpha :: A [[#port|port]] (formerly a [[#release-architecture|release architecture]] and still available via [[#debports|debports]]) using the Linux kernel on (Compaq/Digital) Alpha hardware
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 Armhf :: A (work-in-progress) [[#port|port]] (on [[#debports|debports]] but not yet a [[#release-architecture|release architecture]]) using the Linux kernel on newer ("hard-float") [[#armel|armel]]-style hardware with an FPU  Armhf :: A (work-in-progress) [[#port|port]] (not yet a [[#release-architecture|release architecture]] but available via [[#debports|debports]]) using the Linux kernel on newer ("hard-float") [[#armel|armel]]-style hardware with an FPU
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 Avr32 :: A (work-in-progress) [[#port|port]] (on [[#debports|debports]] but not yet a [[#release-architecture|release architecture]]) using the Linux kernel on Atmel's 32-bit RISC architecture  Avr32 :: A (work-in-progress) [[#port|port]] (not yet a [[#release-architecture|release architecture]] but available via [[#debports|debports]] but ) using the Linux kernel on Atmel's 32-bit RISC architecture
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 Debports :: [[http://www.debian-ports.org/|debian-ports.org]], a site hosting unofficial [[#ports|ports]] that have yet to qualify as [[#release-architecture|release architecture]]s and be integrated into the main archives  Debports :: [[http://www.debian-ports.org/|debian-ports.org]], a site hosting unofficial [[#ports|ports]] that do not currently qualify as [[#release-architecture|release architecture]]s and are not yet (or no longer) integrated into the main archives
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 Hppa :: A [[#port|port]] (formerly a [[#release-architecture|release architecture]]) using the Linux kernel on Hewlett Packard Precision Architecture RISC workstations and servers  Hppa :: A [[#port|port]] (formerly a [[#release-architecture|release architecture]] and still available via [[#debports|debports]]) using the Linux kernel on Hewlett Packard Precision Architecture RISC workstations and servers
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 Hurd-i386 :: A (work-in-progress) [[#port|port]] (on [[#debports|debports]] but not yet a [[#release-architecture|release architecture]]) using the Hurd kernel on [[#i386|i386]]-style hardware  Hurd-i386 :: A (work-in-progress) [[#port|port]] (not yet a [[#release-architecture|release architecture]] but available via [[#debports|debports]]) using the Hurd kernel on [[#i386|i386]]-style hardware
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 M68k :: A [[#port|port]] (formerly a [[#release-architecture|release architecture]], still available via [[#debports|debports]]) using the Linux kernel on Motorola-680x0 CPUs, once common in Sun3/Apple/Atari/Amiga machines  M68k :: A [[#port|port]] (formerly a [[#release-architecture|release architecture]] and still available via [[#debports|debports]]) using the Linux kernel on Motorola-680x0 CPUs, once common in Sun3/Apple/Atari/Amiga machines


Debian Glossary Only.

If you don't find the entry you wanted below, check

Or you can add it yourself. If you can't define it yourself you can put ToDo instead, but always check the sites mentioned above - if it isn't Debian-specific, an existing definition elsewhere is likely to be more helpful.

Jump to : A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Symbols: .(dot)



The process of taking over as maintainer of a package that has been orphaned or tagged RFA


A Debian member who advocates an application. Advocates should know the applicant fairly well and should be able to give an overview of the applicant's work, interests, and plans. Advocates are often the sponsors of an applicant.


Alioth is a collaborative development environment based on the FusionForge software as a service for the Debian project and community.

Alioth (guest) account

People willing to participate in the packaging or development of a software can ask for an Alioth guest account, then ask for commit rights to a given project.


A port (formerly a release architecture and still available via debports) using the Linux kernel on (Compaq/Digital) Alpha hardware


See Application Manager


A port (currently a release architecture) using the Linux kernel on 64bit PCs - technically x86-64 or AMD64 or Intel64, nontechnically most new consumer PCs


Short for "Architecture Not Allowed In Source"; used in bug reports for package removal, usually indicating that the number of architectures for which the package is to be built has been reduced


A person requesting membership in the Debian project; prospective Debian developer.

Application Manager (AM)

A Debian member who is assigned to an applicant to collect the information needed by the Debian account managers to decide about an application. One application manager can be assigned to more than one applicant.


Debian's Advanced Package Tool (or perhaps Advanced Packaging Tool - neither is "official"), a library that handles fetching the list of packages, resolving package dependencies, etc. It then uses dpkg to perform the actual package installation, removal, etc. The package apt provides the commandline tools apt-get and apt-cache, but other APT front-ends exist such as aptitude and synaptic.

The type of system a piece of software is built for:

  • (Not Debian-specific) A general category of hardware (such as "486" or "little-endian"), or a variant of some piece of software tailored for this hardware; may specifically mean the category as determined by some particular tool, such as arch or dpkg-architecture

  • One of the platforms for which Debian packages are built, known by labels such as amd64 or mipsel, and also differentiated by the OS kernel used - the same hardware (not literally an Intel 386 processor) may dualboot i386 and kfreebsd-i386 architectures. See also port, release architecture

A set of files:

  • (Not Debian-specific) A set of items combined into one file, such as a tarball or .deb file (technically an ar archive)

  • An organized, searchable collection of files, such as a software repository
  • Used as a synonym for suite by (e.g.) aptitude - "aptitude search '~i?archive(backports)'")


The term used in Debian Policy for the main, contrib, and non-free divisions of the repositories (also known as components)


A port (superseded by armel and no longer maintained) using the Linux kernel on ARM/StrongARM hardware, a CPU type originally created for the Acorn Archimedes


A port (currently a release architecture) using the Linux kernel on little-endian ARM/StrongARM chips, now common in embedded/mobile devices


A (work-in-progress) port (not yet a release architecture but available via debports) using the Linux kernel on newer ("hard-float") armel-style hardware with an FPU


A (work-in-progress) port (not yet a release architecture but available via debports but ) using the Linux kernel on Atmel's 32-bit RISC architecture



Backports are versions of packages from testing and unstable that have been rebuilt to be able to install and run on the stable distribution.

Base system

Binary packages with priority required or important; a minimalist set of packages installed before everything else on a new system. Designed to provide just the things you'd be surprised to find missing on a usable UNIX system. Not to be confused with essential, which is much smaller.


A wanna-build state

Several potentially confusing (but non-Debian-specific) meanings:

  • Any non-textfile, such as a JPEG format image
  • Any ELF executable (often used generically to include shellscripts and other non-binary executables normally found in a bin directory)

  • The output of a build process - see binary package

Binary package

An installable .deb file as opposed to the source package it's built from. The idea is that this is the "binary" compiled in the package building process (regardless of whether the output .deb contains a binary executable, documentation, or indeed Linux kernel sourcecode). See also Virtual package.


A binary-only non-maintainer upload - see binNMU


The codename for Debian 1.3, release date: 1997


Short for "Birds of a Feather"; a common type of discussion session held at DebConf


Short for "Bug Squashing Party"; a get-together of Debian enthusiasts (either virtual or In Real Life) for the purpose of fixing as many bugs as possible.


Short for "Bug Tracking System"


A system for synchronizing bug status in the Debian BTS with bug tracking systems like Bugzilla. See this mail.


  • A wanna-build state

  • (Non-Debian-specific) A piece of architecture in the non-jargon sense


The only package that's literally essential for a Debian package build is make (because Policy mandates the use of a Makefile), but the "build-essential" toolkit is a convenient short-cut: a standard set of packages defined to be required for all normal Debian packaging work, which can therefore be omitted from lists of build dependencies as obvious, just as essential packages are omitted from install-time dependencies.


The codename for Debian 1.1, release date: 1996


The queue on ftp-master (alongside NEW) for uploads that need special manual handling, such as D-I images



Short for "Common Debian Build System" (provided by cdbs)


The term used in sources.list(5) for the main, contrib, and non-free archive areas


A technical term defined in Policy; a file declared in a package's conffiles file is treated specially by dpkg to ensure that local modifications are not blindly overwritten by a package upgrade or deleted by a remove. Conffiles are (always?) stored in /etc, and are often conventional global configuration files but may also be initscripts, cronjobs, or similar.

Configuration file

Any file affecting the operation of a program, or providing site- or host-specific information, or otherwise customizing a program's behavior. May or may not be system-wide, or in an intelligible line-oriented text format, or marked as a conffile. Personal configuration files are traditionally stored as dotfiles in the home directory (see also rc-file).

Additional, external software, in either of two senses:

  • In various project upstreams, a collection of extra software produced by third parties and included into a distribution "without warranty"
  • in Debian, software that is itself DFSG-compliant but requires software in non-free to build or run usefully (or the archive area such software is separated out into).

Control file

As defined in Debian Policy:

  • The control file included in the debian directory of each source package contains dependency information required to build the package, and has separate stanzas containing further information for each binary-package

  • The control file included in the DEBIAN directory of each binary .deb (formed from the corresponding stanza in the source control file) contains dependency information required to install the package, plus the package description etc.

  • Any "control file"; that is, any file with the same multi-field syntax as the above - for instance, dsc files are also counted as control files.

  • Custom Debian Distributions (CDD)

    The old name for subsets of Debian configured to support a particular target group out-of-the-box. Now known as Debian Pure Blends



    (Short for "Debian Archive Kit") The toolset used to manage the Debian repositories - see DakHowTo


    Short for "Debian Account Manager"


    Short for "Debian Developer"


    Short for the "Debian Documentation Project"


    The Debian Developer's Packages Overview, which lists the packages maintained by a Debian Developer or Team


    See DebCamp; the hacking session right before DebConf

    Two things distinguished by capitalization:

    Debian Account

    Typically the login account of a Debian Developer, but sometimes also used to refer to a Debian Maintainer account. See also Alioth account.

    Debian Account Manager (DAM)

    A Debian member who has been delegated by the Debian project leader to manage Debian account creation and removal. The DAM has the final decision over an application.

    Debian Contributor

    A general term for active members of the Debian community, whether or not they have DD status; sometimes used to mean the status of a non-uploading DD (as recognized by general resolution).

    Debian Developer (DD)

    A Debian Project member who has gone through the New Maintainer process and had their application accepted is called a Debian Developer.

    Debian Documentation Project

    A Debian sub-project covering various documentation issues. See webpages

    Debian Installer (D-I)

    Debian Installer is the software used to initially install Debian on your hard disk. This should not be confused with the software used to install additional packages on a running Debian system (see APT).

    Debian Maintainer (DM)

    The status of a person who has passed the Debian Maintainer process. A Debian Maintainer is granted some rights to manage packages - in particular, the right to upload packages to the Debian archives. DMs aren't voting members of the Debian Project. See also Debian Developer, Alioth account. Not to be confused with the role of package Maintainer.

    Debian Member

    Full members of the Debian Project are referred to as Debian Developers. (ToDo: link to one coherent central explanation of the distinction between contributors, developers, maintainers, and uploaders, assuming there is one)

    Debian New Maintainer

    The process of becoming an official Debian Developer, or a person going through that process. See also Applicant.

    Debian Policy Manual
    The document that describes what packages should contain, how they should be configured, and generally how packages fit together to create a Debian system.

    Debian Project

    An organization of free software developers spread around the world with a common goal: to produce a completely free operating system. See the Debian web pages for more information.

    Debian Project Leader (DPL)

    The official representative of the Debian Project to the outside world, with internal managerial and coordinatory duties; elected annually. See http://www.debian.org/devel/leader

    Debian Pure Blends

    A subset of Debian that is configured to support a particular target group out-of-the-box. Debian Pure Blends were formerly known as Custom Debian Distributions (CDD).

    Debian Security Advisory (DSA)

    A warning message sent to the debian-security-announce mailinglist about a security alert for Debian software with available fixes. Not to be confused with the DSA team.

    Debian System Administrators (DSA)

    The Debian System Administrators team, who handle the basic infrastructure of the project. Not to be confused with DSA messages.


    debian-ports.org, a site hosting unofficial ports that do not currently qualify as release architectures and are not yet (or no longer) integrated into the main archives


    Short for "Debian External Health Status"


    Short for "Debian Enhancement Proposal", an RFC-like mechanism for planning efforts within the Debian Project

    Dependency-based boot

    A scheme, standard since squeeze, for organizing initscripts; "dependency-based" here means checking for things like networking and mounted file systems, not package installation relationships

    Dependency package

    An empty binary package that exists only for the sake of its declared dependencies on other packages, for instance to keep the current default version of gcc installed. See metapackage and transition-package for other common types.


    (Plus more rarely dep-wait-removed) A wanna-build state


    A term with various senses in finance, IP law, etc., but used in Debian for "child" distributions like Ubuntu; see the DerivativesFrontDesk


    Short for the "Debian Free Software Guidelines"; the rules of thumb included in the Debian Social Contract that can be used to judge whether material counts for the project's purposes as free. The string dfsg is often appended to package names and version-strings to indicate that the upstream version has been slightly modified to allow it to stay in main.


    See Debian-Installer

    Distribution (distro, dist)

    • (Not Debian-specific) The complete set of software from one upstream project, considered as a unit. MacTeX is a TeX distribution, for instance, whereas NetBSD is a full Operating System distribution. This is the sense (often abbreviated "distro") in which Debian is "a distribution".
    • A suite within the Debian repositories capable of providing a fully functional OS on its own, unlike the supplementary ones such as "testing-security". This is the sense in which stable is "a distribution".

    • Used more generally (e.g. in sources.list(5)) as a synonym for suite; hence source URLs which put http://ftp.debian.org/debian/dists/experimental/ alongside all the other dists.


    • In Debian package management, the process of migrating a whole system from one release to the next (dist-upgrades skipping a release are not supported)

    • In apt specifically, an action that makes relatively aggressive (but intelligent) attempts to bring the system fully up to date, even if this requires some changes to the list of installed packages (that is, it may automatically install, [#remove|remove]], or replace packages). Compare plain upgrade, and aptitude's full-upgrade.


    See Debian Maintainer.


    Short for "Debian Machine Use Policies"; the Acceptable Use Policy for machines on the Debian network.


    For Debian-specific file extensions ("dotdeb" etc.) see . (dot)


    An action not officially supported in Debian package management, though often possible (and where it isn't, a purge and re-install of the older version is often good enough).


    Short for "Debian Project Leader"


    The Debian Python Modules Team, who work to improve the Python modules situation in Debian.


    Short for either "Debian Security Advisory" or "Debian Systems Administrators"



    A set of packages providing the absolute minimal functionality that must be available and usable on the system at all times. The idea is, if you're hit by a software or hardware failure halfway through an upgrade, leaving your package database in an inconsistent state, the essential packages should still work well enough to let you perform repair work.


    The codename for Debian 4.0, release date: 2007


    The experimental repository is an incomplete distribution which developers can use to try out versions of software not intended to migrate to testing, and which users are warned not to install



    (Plus more rarely failed-removed) A wanna-build state


    See Filesystem Hierarchy Standard.

    Filesystem Hierarchy Standard (FHS)

    the FilesystemHierarchyStandard defines the main directories and their contents in Linux and other Unix-like computer operating systems. The Debian Policy Manual only explains the exceptions applying to Debian.


    Compliant with the DFSG, and eligible to go in main


    The distribution development freeze is a period of time when the Debian Project is working to finalize and stabilize the content of the testing distribution (resolving release critical bugs, making final tweaks to Debian-Installer, deciding the contents of the CDs, etc.) before its release as the new stable. Debian's release policy is one of Release when Ready, so the length of the freeze period isn't fixed, but it tends to last something like six months.

    Front Desk

    The front desk members receive the initial applications, advocation messages, and final application reports. They are the point of contact if problems arise with an application.


    Short for "Fails To Build From Source", a bugreport type produced by the build infrastructure when a package cannot be compiled. See qa.debian.org/FTBFS.

    FTP master
    Several things, none of which necessarily involve the File Transfer Protocol

    • The ftp-master server, the primary copy of the Debian archive

    • The FTPMaster team that looks after this server, doing tasks such as checking the incoming queue for policy or licensing violations

    • Senior members of this team also rank as "FTP Masters"


    An aptitude action more or less equivalent to (and formerly known as) a dist-upgrade.


    General Resolution (GR)

    A decision ratified by a vote of Debian Developers, according to the procedure specified in the Debian Constitution


    In autobuilder jargon, packages are "taken" when an attempt is made to build them. Failures are often transient, fixed by simply trying again after a few days, so a "giveback" removes the "taken" flag from the package in the wanna-build database and puts it back into the normal needs-build queue.


    Short for "General Resolution"



    The codename for Debian 2.0, release date: 1998


    Adoption without prior permission, sometimes justified by a sufficiently buggy package and MIA maintainer


    A port (formerly a release architecture and still available via debports) using the Linux kernel on Hewlett Packard Precision Architecture RISC workstations and servers


    A (work-in-progress) port (not yet a release architecture but available via debports) using the Hurd kernel on i386-style hardware



    A "port" (or rather the original release architecture) using the Linux kernel on 32-bit PCs - technically x86 or IA-32, nontechnically anything vaguely resembiling a Pentium processor


    A port (currently a release architecture) using the Linux kernel on Intel IA-64 AKA Itanium hardware, not to be confused with amd64


    Short for "I Am Not A Debian Developer" - a caveat in the tradition of IANAL


    Short for "I Am Not A Lawyer", often used on the debian-legal mailing list. Not Debian-specific; see Wikipedia's definition.


    Short for "Internal Compiler Error"; used in bug reports for package removal, usually indicating that gcc does not yet fully support a new architecture


    • To set up an Operating System (e.g. with Debian-Installer), or otherwise introduce software onto a system. Examples include installing a bootable image to your boot-sector, a homebrew kernel in /boot, or a shellscript in /usr/local/sbin. The Debian system is designed to permit various forms of local installation performed outside the package database, but you have to keep track of them yourself.

    • In Debian package management, to put a binary package onto a system in a way that registers it with the package database. Note that the package management system sees package upgrades as a subcategory of installs.

    • In APT (or front-ends), a particular action. Note however that install and remove can each be used to perform the opposite function, if given an appropriate suffix (e.g.: apt-get install foo- bar- will remove packages foo and bar).


    A wanna-build state

    Short for two things Debian needs to care about:

    • Internet Protocol, the primary communications protocol on the Internet; also often used to mean "IP address"
    • Intellectual Property, the intangible assets covered by copyright/licensing/patent/trademark law


    Short for "Intent to Adopt", used to track the status of orphaned packages (see WNPP) or documentation (see DDP).


    Short for "Intent to Document", used by a documentation maintainer who intends to start writing a document. Using the WNPP system avoids duplicated effort; see DDP.


    Short for "Intent To Package", used by a DD or Maintainer who intends to package a piece of software; see WNPP.


    Short for "Intent to Translate", used by a translator who intends to start translating a document. This like the above is a mechanism to prevent duplication of efforts; see DDP.




    A port (currently a release architecture) using the FreeBSD kernel on amd64-style hardware


    A port (currently a release architecture) using the FreeBSD kernel on i386-style hardware


    Short for "Key Signing Party", a common event at DebConfs and other real-life get-togethers



    The codename for Debian 5.0, release date: 2009 (oldstable)



    A rumored port which has never made it as far as debports using the Linux kernel on Renesas M32R embedded hardware


    A port (formerly a release architecture and still available via debports) using the Linux kernel on Motorola-680x0 CPUs, once common in Sun3/Apple/Atari/Amiga machines


    The "truly Debian" archive area, reserved for free software.


    The maintainer of a package is the person or group of people responsible for it (packaging, bugtracking, etc.); see Debian Policy. See also Debian Maintainer (DM), Debian New Maintainer (process).

    Mass bug filing (MBF)

    Reporting a great number of bugs for the same problem. See the Debian Developer's Reference.


    Short for "Mass Bug Filing".


    An occasionally seen word for "an individual being mentored". This term, like sponsee, may trigger responses of "that's not even a word" in some speakers (though alternatives like "mentoree" aren't much safer)


    An experienced Debian Member who takes responsibility for assisting a less experienced member or Applicant. Outside occasional efforts such as the Debian Women mentoring program, such relationships generally exist only on an informal and unofficial basis. Every Applicant has an advocate who may effectively act as a mentor; but despite the name of the debian-mentors mailing list, its primary function is to put new maintainers in touch with sponsors.


    A dependency package designed to automatically pull in a family of packages; may function as a shortcut to simplify installation of a full desktop environment.


    Short for "Missing In Action"; (a database tracking) Debian package maintainers who have abandoned their duties without retiring


    A port (currently a release architecture) using the Linux kernel on big-endian SGI-style MIPS hardware


    A port (currently a release architecture) using the Linux kernel on the little-endian version of mips-style hardware



    A package with no upstream and no use outside of Debian can leave out some complications in its packaging by using the "native" source format


    Short for "Not Built from Source"; one of the criteria used to detect candidates for automated package removal, in this case removing a binary package that isn't built from any remaining source package. See ftpmaster_Removals.


    A wanna-build state


    The queue on ftp-master for packages uploaded for the first time, which need to be reviewed first - see REJECT. This includes renames, packages moving between areas, and source-packages that build new binary packages

    New Maintainer (NM)

    See Debian New Maintainer, Applicant, Debian Maintainer.


    Short for "NonMaintainerUpload"; a version of a package that wasn't uploaded by an official Maintainer, but rather by another developer. This typically occurs for security updates, Mass Bug Filings, and when the maintainer is on holiday - see Debian Developer's Reference.


    Not compliant with the DFSG; also, the archive area for software which is non-free but can be legally distributed by Debian.


    (Obsolete) A subdivision of the Debian archives needed for the slink/potato/woody releases to deal with US legal restrictions on the export of cryptographic software. Software such as GPG was hosted only on mirrors outside the USA.


    A wanna-build state (not to be confused with non-us)


    Short for "Never Part Of A Stable Release"; used in bug reports for package removal, implying that users won't see the package's absence as a regression


    Short for "Newer Version In Unstable"; one of the criteria used to detect candidates for automated package removal, in this case removing an experimental build as superseded by a more recent build already present in unstable. See ftpmaster_Removals.



    Short for the QA status "Orphaned"


    • In aptitude (e.g. aptitude search ?obsolete), any currently installed package which is not available (in any version) from any known archive. This usually means that the system has dist-upgraded to a new stable release that no longer contains that package.Transition packages don't register as obsolete in this sense.

    • Also used to refer to automatically installed packages that are no longer needed (such as orphan libraries) and would be candidates for autoremoval.


    The distribution before the current stable release, which continues to receive some level of security support for a while (commonly a year) after it is superseded.


    The equivalent to stable-proposed-updates for oldstable


    In Release files and aptitude searches, the organization providing the repository - examples include Debian, Debian Backports, and Google, Inc.


    (Not to be confused with the following) In package management, a stray installed package with no reverse dependencies (such as a library for which the corresponding executable has been purged), which can be detected with tools such as deborphan. Such unwanted relics are now increasingly tracked by APT itself.

    Orphaned (O)

    (Not to be confused with the above) Used in package QA to indicate that a package has no maintainer, and needs to be adopted (see ITA and WNPP). If the package has a priority of standard or higher, the severity of the orphaning bug report should be set to important. The term is similarly used to indicate documentation that the author is declaring abandoned; see DDP.



    Package Tracking System (PTS)

    The Package Tracking System lets you follow almost everything related to the life of a package, and is of interest for co-maintainers, QA workers, and advanced users


    Short for "Python Applications Packaging Team"


    A BTS tag indicating that "a solution to this bug has been found and an upload will be made soon". In practice this may mean anything from "my regular sponsor is away for the weekend" to "it'll be folded into the scheduled major release in the new year"


    APT pinning is the name given to the use of apt_preferences(5) to define a modified system of package-management priorities. This makes it possible, for instance, to run an essentially stable system but specify particular packages for which newer candidates (e.g. backports) will automatically be preferred for installation.


    Short for "Package Installation, UPgrading And Removal Testing Suite" - see piuparts.

    Point release

    Point releases are updated versions of a release, with incremented minor revision number (hence the name), incorporating all accumulated security fixes and grave bug-fixes. (Also, In Real Life, a type of minor avalanche.)


    The popcon score of a Debian package (see webpage) is meant to reflect its "popularity"; it is derived from data generated via the package popularity-contest, which periodically and anonymously submits statistics about which binary packages are installed on a system and whether they are used.


    • (Non-Debian-specific) A physical hardware interface
    • (Non-Debian-specific) A TCP networking endpoint identified by port number
    • (Non-Debian-specific) A platform that software has been converted to run on
    • A hardware/OS kernel combo for which some effort has been made to render Debian installable. See architecture, debports, Debian ports pages


    The codename for Debian 2.2, release date: 2000


    A port (currently a release architecture) using the Linux kernel on IBM/Motorola PowerPC hardware, meaning PowerMacs and other pre-Intel Macs


    A port (not yet a release architecture but available via debports) using the Linux kernel on a slightly more obscure variant of powerpc hardware


    A ranking system for binary packages, indicating how important it is for users to have them installed, and ranging from extra to required (not to be confused with essential). See Debian Policy.


    (Not to be confused with virtual package, prospective package, or the package sudo) A BTS address that doesn't correspond to a package name; see definitions


    Short for "Package Tracking System"


    In Debian package management, to uninstall a package completely, deleting its conffiles. See remove



    Short for "Quality Assurance" - see qa.debian.org


    Has several easily confused meanings:

    • Short for "Release Candidate", in version strings (v1.9~rc5 comes before v1.9)
    • Short for "Release-Critical" in the BTS

    • Short for "Radio Controlled"; one of the few original Toy Story character names never to have been adopted as a Debian release codename (it was a little buggy)

    • In a filename such as ~/.bashrc, indicates a type of configuration-file - usually interpreted as short for "runtime configuration", but apparently inspired by the following

    • In the sysv-rc system, indicates a type of set-up script (in /etc/rc*.d) - usually interpreted as short for "runlevel configuration", but apparently inspired by the following

    • In the MIT Compatible Time-Sharing System back in the sixties, "runcom files"


    A message from the FTP Masters denying entry to the Debian archives for a package in NEW, on the grounds of legality, namespace issues, or general bugginess; see FAQ


    see Debian Release

    • The occasion of a new stable version of Debian being declared ready for production use;

    • A suite that has been or is going to be released; more generally, a synonym for suite - even sid has a Release file and is traditionally (if oxymoronically) referred to as "the unstable release".

    Release Architecture

    An architecture supported as part of a stable release; ports qualify for this status when their autobuilders prove capable of "keeping up" and successfully building a sufficient proportion of the archive.

    Release Critical (RC)

    A bug that cannot be allowed in stable; a release cannot occur until all such bugs have been handled (by removal if necessary)


    • To delete a package from the archives - see RM

    • In Debian package management, to uninstall a package, especially in a fashion that leaves behind conffiles (thus if you remove and then reinstall a package you won't lose your custom setup). See purge

    • In APT (or front-ends), a particular action. Note however that install and remove can each be used to perform the opposite function, if given an appropriate suffix (e.g.: apt-get remove foo+ bar+ will install packages foo and bar).

    RequestTracker (RT)

    The issue-tracking system rt.debian.org, used by the Security and DSA teams (among others)


    The codename for Debian 1.2, release date: 1996


    Short for "Request For Adoption"; a WNPP bug tag indicating that (due to lack of time, interest, or other resources) the current maintainer is asking for someone else to maintain this package. They will maintain it in the meantime, but perhaps not in the best possible way. Compare Orphaned.


    Short for "Request For Documentation"; a DDP bug tag indicating that a manual or other documentation on a given topic is not yet available on the DDP and the reporting user requests that DDP members should give it priority when deciding which documents need to be written.


    Short for "Request For Help"; a WNPP bug tag indicating that the current maintainer wants to continue to maintain this package, but needs some help to do this. This may be because the maintainer is overstretched in general, or because this package is particularly hard to maintain, or because bugs require specialist expertise to fix.


    Short for "Request For Package"; a WNPP bug tag indicating that the reporter has found an interesting piece of software and would like someone else to maintain it for Debian.


    Used in subject lines of package removal requests. It might look like it's addressed to the Release Manager, but it's just a shouty version of rm.


    Short for "Request of Maintainer"; used in bug reports for package removal, to indicate that it has been agreed with the package's own maintainer.

    A word with several (non-Debian-specific) technical uses, all deriving from the same metaphor of a node structure with a root and branches:

    • The root directory (/) is the top level directory of the file system hierarchy - the part of the "directory tree" that everything else connects to.

    • The root file system is the primary mountpoint everything else is attached to; it contains the root directory, plus various other essential directories such as /bin and /lib, and may or may not include others such as /var or /home.

    • The root user (uid 0) is the so-called "superuser", with unlimited privileges - equivalent to the "Administrator" on some other operating systems. (This name might lead you to expect users to be arranged in some sort of organizational tree structure, but it just means that the superuser can modify the root directory.)
    • The root window is the desktop background, the element of the graphical environment that all other windows are defined relative to. (Thus "root tile" as a synonym for "desktop wallpaper".)
    • The root zone is the core of the DNS system, where the nameservers that are authoritative for Top Level Domains (the "root nameservers") live.
    • The directory /root is the home directory of the root user, housed on the root file system. Not to be confused with the root directory as defined above.

    • Not forgetting its senses of "inverse exponent", or "gain illicit superuser access, either for malicious purposes or to bypass a proprietary OS", or (in AU/NZ slang) "have sex with"... and it doesn't help that for some it's homophonous with "route".


    Short for "Request Of Porter"; used in bug reports for package removal, to indicate that the package is no longer built on a particular set of architectures


    Short for "Request of Quality Assurance"; used in bug reports for package removal, to indicate that it has been agreed with the QA team (usually because the package is orphaned)


    Short for "Request of Release Team"; used in bug reports for package removal, to indicate that issues have been confirmed by the Release Team.


    Short for "Request of Stable Release Manager"; used in bug reports for package removal, to indicate that it has been agreed with the powers that be


    Short for "Request Tracker"



    A port (currently a release architecture) using the Linux kernel on IBM s/390 AKA zSeries mainframe hardware


    An aptitude action more or less equivalent to (and formerly known as) an upgrade.


    The codename for Debian 3.1, release date: 2005


    • A notional subdivision of the Debian repositories into functional categories such as "admin", "kde", and "video"
    • Also sometimes used as a synonym for archive area


    The suite used to propagate fixes for security issues into stable, maintained by the security team


    A ranking system for bugreports, indicating how important it is for it to be fixed, and ranging from wishlist to critical. See definitions


    A port (not yet a release architecture but available via debports) using the Linux kernel on Hitchi SuperH hardware (used e.g. in Dreamcasts)

    Not a cross between a shrub and a blintz.

    • Short for shared libraries - that is, dynamically loadable subroutines compiled into object files so that a single copy loaded into memory can be accessed by as many different processes as need it. Normally have the file extension .so, followed by interface-version numbers.

    • A special file defined in Debian Policy for tracking shared library dependencies


    The permanent codename for unstable. While other codenames cycle through from testing to stable to oldstable, the name "Sid" stays in the same place permanently.


    The codename for Debian 2.1, release date: 1999


    • A package origin defined by a line in sources.list

    • A bash builtin that executes commands from a file

    • Compilable code, the input of a build process - see source package

    Source package

    • A unit of upstream software (with a single build system), which may correspond to several separate binary packages within Debian;

    • The bundle of files (.dsc file, upstream tarball, etc) used as input to the package-building process.


    A port (currently a release architecture) using the Linux kernel on 32-bit Sun4-style SPARC hardware


    A port (not yet a release architecture but available via debports) using the Linux kernel on 64-bit versions of sparc-type hardware


    Short for "Software in the Public Interest, Inc.", the nonprofit foundation that manages resources and accepts donations on behalf of the Debian Project (which has no legal authority for doing so itself).


    An occasionally seen word for "an individual being sponsored". This term, like mentee, may trigger responses of "that's not even a word" in some speakers (though alternatives like "sponsoree" aren't much safer)


    A Debian Member with upload privileges who uses them on behalf of a package maintainer without such privileges. The sponsor is required to take responsibility for checking that there are no show-stopping quality issues, but is not recorded as the maintainer of the package. A sponsorship may be a one-off event, or the sponsor may also act informally as a mentor, helping to track down bugs and improve the packaging. See also advocate.


    The codename for Debian 6.0, release date: 2011 (the current stable)


    The stable distribution is the release recommended for production use. Each stable release is "promoted" from testing status as the result of a cycle of development, debugging, and integration that usually lasts about two years.


    The suite where proposed fixes for major bugs in stable are queued for inclusion in a point release


    The StableUpdates suite (formerly implemented as volatile) is where proposed updates are queued for packages such as virus scanners that become uselessly out of date over the lifespan of a release.




    testing is the Debian distribution automatically generated out of packages migrating from unstable. The first step towards a new stable release is that testing undergoes a freeze.


    The equivalent to stable-proposed-updates for testing, used only in cases where the fixes need to bypass unstable


    The testing-security suite is only roughly the testing equivalent of stable's security support, because it is run by a different ?team and because most new package versions fixing security bugs can simply go through unstable as usual


    Short for "This Is Not Legal Advice"; compare IANAL.


    Often short for "library transition". A new version of a widely-used dependency hitting unstable can mean that large numbers of related packages need rebuilds or significant fixes before the whole set can migrate to testing.

    Transition package

    A dependency package designed to automatically replace one package with another, to smooth over a rename or similar migration (especially for users performing a dist-upgrade). Not connected with library transitions



    The unstable distribution is where you can find the latest packages introduced into the Debian system.


    In APT (or front-ends), the process of refreshing the package-management system's information about what packages are available from the registered sources. Not to be confused with (or omitted before) an upgrade


    • In Debian package management, the process of installing the newest versions of a set of binary packages (by default, all packages that have newer candidates available).

    • In apt specifically, the kind of upgrade that only fetches and installs new versions of packages, without changing the list of installed packages (so for instance a package whose new version has extra dependencies would be left unupgraded). Compare dist-upgrade, and aptitude's safe-upgrade.


    A wanna-build state


    A ranking system for uploads, indicating how important it is for the new version to reach the archives, and ranging from low to critical. See Debian Policy

    A term with various non-Debian-specific but potentially confusing senses:

    • An actual human being currently logged into the system
    • Any service recipient (including for instance remote processes accessing a web server)
    • An account, which may belong to a user in the first sense or just be a "system" account
    • In chmod(1), the specific user (in the above sense) with ownership of a file

    • Any normal, unprivileged account (thus "as a user" versus "as root")

    • Any normal, non-technical human user, likely also to be a user in the above sense

    • The name of the top-level /usr directory was also originally short for "user" (since at the time home directories lived there).


    The string (corresponding to a numeric uid) that identifies a user to the system. Ambiguous when written as "user name" - root is a username; "Professor Sam Q. McRandom" is a user name


    (Of a process) Running outside the kernel; everything up to and including init is a user process in this sense. Ambiguous when written as "user space" (which may mean storage capacity available to users).


    Virtual package

    A binary package that exists in name only, with no associated .deb file; used to organize systems of alternative dependencies (multiple binary packages can claim to "Provide" the same virtual package).


    The volatile suite is (roughly speaking) the old name for stable-updates



    A tool forming part of the autobuild system that maintains a database of the build status of packages; see definitions


    The codename for the current testing


    Short for "Work-Needing and Prospective Packages" - a pseudo-package used to collect reports of packages (and potential packages) in need of (new) maintainers in Debian. See ITP, O, RFA, RFH, RFP.


    The codename for Debian 3.0, release date: 2002


    X Strike Force (XSF)

    The team responsible for maintaining packages for the X Window System in Debian



    . (dot)


    The file extension used for the standard installable binary package format used by Debian-based distributions.


    The file extension used for a Debian Source Control file, which is a particular format of control file forming a crucial component of a source-package


    The file extension used for (proposed) separate translation packages - see Dep-4


    The file extension used for special binary packages containing Debian-Installer modules, not intended for installation on a normal system.