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 Backports :: [[Backports]] are versions of [[#package|package]]s from [[#testing|testing]] and [[#unstable|unstable]] that have been rebuilt to be able to [[#install|install]] and run on the [[#stable|stable]] [[#distribution|distribution]]; especially those hosted on [[http://backports.debian.org|backports.debian.org]].  Backports :: [[Backports]] are versions of [[#package|package]]s from [[#testing|testing]] and [[#unstable|unstable]] that have been rebuilt to be able to [[#install|install]] and run on the [[#stable|stable]] [[#distribution|distribution]]. Official backports [[http://lists.debian.org/debian-backports-announce/2013/03/msg00000.html|are now hosted]] alongside the standard repositories.
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 Debian Maintainer (DM) :: The status of a person who has passed the [[DebianMaintainer|Debian Maintainer]] process. A Debian Maintainer is granted some rights over [[#package|package]]s - in particular, the right to [[#upload|upload]] packages to the Debian archives. DMs aren't voting members of the Debian Project. See also [[#debian-developer|Debian Developer]], [[#alioth-account|Alioth account]]. Not to be confused with the role of package [[#maintainer|Maintainer]].  Debian Maintainer (DM) :: The status of a person who has passed the [[DebianMaintainer|Debian Maintainer]] process. A Debian Maintainer is granted some limited rights over [[#package|package]]s - in particular, the right to [[#upload|upload]] packages to the Debian archives. DMs aren't yet members of the Debian Project, so can't for example vote in project elections. See also [[#debian-developer|Debian Developer]], [[#alioth-account|Alioth account]]. Not to be confused with the role of package [[#maintainer|Maintainer]].


Debian Glossary Only.

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

Alternatively, 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

To contribute to a project hosted on Alioth, register for a guest account, then ask to have that account given commit rights.


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 (and release architecture in Squeeze) 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. Nothing to do with the name Anaïs (cf. britney etc.).


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. Nothing to do with software applications or package management.


Debian's Advanced Package Tool (or perhaps Advanced Packaging Tool - neither is "official"), a package management 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(1) and apt-cache(1), 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(1) or dpkg-architecture(1).

  • 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.

Can mean:
  • (Not Debian-specific) A set of items combined into one file, such as a tarball or .deb file (technically an ar(1) 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 (ARM was originally an acronym for Acorn RISC Machine).


A prospective port (not yet available via debports) using the Linux kernel on 64-bit ARMv8 ("aarch64") hardware that should become available soon.


A port (and release architecture in Squeeze) introduced to replace arm, using the Linux kernel on little-endian ARM/StrongARM chips, which are now common in embedded/mobile devices.


A new port (and release architecture in Wheezy) using the Linux kernel on newer armel-style hardware with an FPU. It explicitly targets version 7 of the ARM architecture, using the hard-float version of the ARM EABI.


A stalled port (never a release architecture but available via debports) 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. Official backports are now hosted alongside the standard repositories.

Backports Security Advisory (BSA)

The equivalent of a Debian Security Advisory for backports, sent out to debian-backports-announce

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 not 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 source code). See also Virtual package.


A binary(-package)-only Non-Maintainer Upload, often used in porting - see binNMU.


(As in "Bits from the DPL") Frequently used title for progress updates and event reports sent to the mailinglists.


The codename for Debian 1.3, release date: 1997.


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


The set of scripts that manages the migration of packages into testing. Originally it was one of many similar FTPmaster scripts with names like katie and madison, most of which have since been swallowed up by DAK.


Short for "Backports Security Advisory"


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". Where used as a mailinglist label it indicates that a thread has been resolved by the submission of a patch.


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


The only package that's literally essential for building a Debian binary package 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.


A wanna-build state


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).


See .changes.


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 binary 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 Distribution (CDD)

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

Has two related Debian-specific meanings:



Abbreviations such as d-d-a are commonly used as shorthand names for Debian mailinglists (in this case, debian-devel-announce).


(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 "Debian Data Export".


See .ddeb.


Short for the "Debian Documentation Project".


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


Short for the Debian Description Translation Project.


See .deb.


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 Data Export (DDE)

A web interface giving access to Debian data in various formats. See ProjectB, UDD.

Debian Developer (DD)

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

Debian Developer's Reference (DevRef)

A (packaged) document which serves as a packaging Howto and a guide to best practices as 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 Linux Kernel Handbook

A (packaged) document providing a reference manual for working on the Linux kernel in Debian.

Debian Maintainer (DM)

The status of a person who has passed the Debian Maintainer process. A Debian Maintainer is granted some limited rights over packages - in particular, the right to upload packages to the Debian archives. DMs aren't yet members of the Debian Project, so can't for example vote in project elections. 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 Project Member.

Debian Policy Manual

A (packaged) document describing 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 Project News (DPN)

A newsletter sent out roughly every two weeks to debian-news collecting information of interest to the Debian community in general.

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 Weekly News (DWN)

A newsletter that ran (less regularly than the name suggests) from 1999 until 2007; replaced by the Debian Project News.

Debian Women (D-W)

A subproject founded in 2004 to encourage more women to use Debian and to join the Debian project. The Debian-Women initiative is supported by both men and women.


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


A set of queues on ftp-master where the queue daemon stores packages that were uploaded to the corresponding delayed queue - see README.


Short for "Debian External Health Status".


A set of directories on ftp-master (ranging from "0-day" to "15-day") that receive uploads not intended for immediate processing, usually to give the package's maintainer an opportunity to check the acceptability of an NMU before it goes into the archive. Compare deferred.


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.

Developer News

See Misc Developer News.


Short for the Debian Developer's Reference.


Short for the Debian Derivatives Exchange Project.


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)
Can mean:
  • (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.

Can mean:
  • 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, or replace packages). Compare plain upgrade, and aptitude's full-upgrade.


See Debian Maintainer.


The (new) Debian Maintainer Dashboard.


Short for "DM-Upload-Allowed"; not to be confused with DMUP.


Short for "Debian Machine Use Policies"; the Acceptable Use Policy for machines on the Debian network. Not to be confused with DMUA.

DM-Upload-Allowed (DMUA)

A field in control files (normally added by a sponsor) to license uploads signed by a Debian Maintainer rather than a full Debian Developer. Now deprecated.


An i18n mailinglist label used to mark a thread as resolved (where this does not involve the submission of a patch to the BTS).


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.


See Debian Project News


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


See .dsc.

Dummy package

An empty package created either to circumvent the dependency system (see equivs) or to express dependencies of its own (see metapackage, dependency package).


See Debian-Women


See Debian Weekly News



The highest upload urgency level, synonymous with critical.


A set of binary 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. See also required and pseudo-essential.


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.


The lowest package priority.



(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
A team functioning as a first point of contact for Debian. Can mean:


Short for "Fails To Build From Source", a bugreport type produced by the build infrastructure when a binary package cannot be compiled.

Short for "For Those Who Care About".

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 NEW queue.

  • 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".


An RC bug severity.



The codename for Debian 2.0, release date: 1998.


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


An i18n mailinglist label used to put work "on hold", warning that any work done on updates now is likely to be wasted.


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 - the kind dominating the market through the 90s/00s and known variously as IBM-clone, x86, IA-32, or (W)Intel-compatible computers.


A port (and release architecture in Squeeze) 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.

Two Debian-specific meanings:

In terms of software, can mean:
  • 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.


(Not Debian-specific) A highly ambiguous initialism, which can mean:

  • Internet Protocol, the primary communications protocol on the net.
  • Internet Protocol address (as in "what's your IP?").
  • Instruction Pointer address (as in "segfault at ip 000000000000dead").
  • 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 Orphan", used to label messages from a Maintainer giving advance warning of the orphaning of packages. Not an official part of the WNPP system, but useful as a way of letting interested developers stake claims.


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


Short for "Intent To Review"; an i18n mailinglist label (for human consumption) used to indicate that localization work is ongoing; also the message sent to a package Maintainer as the first step in the Smith Project debconf review process.


Short for "Intent To Translate"; an i18n mailinglist label used by a translator who intends to start translating a document, as a mechanism to prevent duplication of effort; see DDP.



Penciled in as the codename for the next testing after Wheezy.



The script (these days really just a subcomponent of DAK) that validates uploaded packages (and mails the uploader to say whether they've been accepted).

Kernel Handbook

See the Debian Linux Kernel Handbook.


A port (and "technology preview" release architecture in Squeeze) using the FreeBSD kernel on amd64-style hardware.


A port (and "technology preview" release architecture in Squeeze) using the FreeBSD kernel on i386-style hardware.


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



A tag indicating a bug in localization (en_GB: localisation) support.


Short for "Last Chance For Comment"; an i18n mailinglist label used to indicate that work has been done and calling for any last-minute corrections before it is declared finished.


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


(A tag indicating a bug in) Large File Support (meaning individual files over two gigabytes). Not to be confused with the LinuxFromScratch distribution.


The default upload urgency level.



Sometimes seen as an alternative name for m32r.


A long-abandoned port which 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 package maintenance; see Debian Policy. See also Debian Maintainer.


Short for "Mise à Jour" (French for "update"); an i18n mailinglist label used to indicate that a document needs to be updated and that the work is reserved for the previous translator.

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" (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. Sometimes hyphenated ("meta-package"), sometimes used as a synonym for plain dependency package.


Short for "Missing In Action"; (a database tracking) Debian package maintainers who have abandoned their duties without retiring. Nothing to do with the name Mia (cf. britney).


Any process that involves transferring a large set of items, such as (most often in Debian) the automatic movement of packages from one suite to the next. No, it doesn't mean they travel in swarms, and they don't fly back in the winter.


A low bug severity.


A port (and release architecture in Squeeze) using the Linux kernel on big-endian SGI-style MIPS hardware.


A port (and release architecture in Squeeze) using the Linux kernel on the little-endian version of mips-style hardware.

Misc Developer News

A bulletin collating minor news items of interest to Debian Developers sent out to debian-devel-announce whenever sufficient material has been collected on its Wiki page. Compare the Debian Project News.



A source 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.


a long-abandoned port (which never made it as far as debports) using the NetBSD kernel on alpha-style hardware.


a long-abandoned port (which never made it as far as debports) using the NetBSD kernel on i386-style hardware.


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

See New Member

New Member (NM)

(Formerly New Maintainer) The process of becoming an official Debian Member, or a person going through that process. See also Applicant, Debian Member.


Short for "Non-Maintainer Upload"; a version of a package that wasn't uploaded by an official Maintainer, but rather by another Debian 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.


The default bug severity.


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".

Can mean:
  • In aptitude(1) (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.

Oldstable proposed-updates

The equivalent to stable-proposed-updates for oldstable.


A package priority (the highest priority that's not installed by default).


Short for "Oldstable Proposed Updates"; used to tag subject lines of processing requests. See PU.


Has two subtly different senses even within the jargon of pinning defined in apt_preferences(5):

  • In a line like "Pin: origin 'dl.google.com'", it's a repository hostname to be associated with a "Pin-Priority:" line.

  • In a line like "Pin: release o='Google, Inc.'" (where the "o" stands for an "Origin:" line in a Release file), it's the name of the vendor or source organization behind the repository. This can also be used in aptitude searches such as "aptitude search '?origin(Debian Backports)'".


(Not to be confused with the following) In Debian 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 is in need of adoption (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.


Can mean:

Package maintenance

The software-development task of looking after a package within Debian (that is, bugtracking, following upstream development, etc. - see maintainer); not to be confused with package management.

Package management

The administrative task of regulating the software installed on a particular system (using tools such as APT); not to be confused with package maintenance.

Packages-arch-specific (P-a-s)

In the buildd system, the "Packages-arch-specific" list names the binary packages that are not to be built from source on particular architectures.

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".


Short for "Packages-arch-specific".


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".


The Package Entropy Tracker.

Philosophy and Procedures (P&P)

An element in the New Member checking process in which applicants are evaluated on their understanding of the principles of free software and of best practice in cooperative development.


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.

Can mean:
  • (Not Debian-specific) A physical hardware interface.
  • (Not Debian-specific) A TCP networking endpoint identified by port number.
  • (Not 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 (and release architecture in Squeeze) 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; "SPE" stands for "Signal Processing Extension" (and not as you might have guessed "Synergistic Processing Element").


See Philosophy and Procedures.


A new port (not yet a release architecture but available via debports) using the Linux kernel on 64-bit PowerPC CPUs with VMX (AKA AltiVec).


A ranking system for binary packages, indicating how important it is for users to have them installed, and ranging from extra to required. See Debian Policy.


A database storing Debian archive metadata (such as what versions of what packages are in what suites for what architectures) used by DAK. See ProjectB, DDE, UDD.


A label applied to binary packages that are not themselves essential but are dependencies or pre-dependencies from essential packages, which has a similar effect. Examples include libc6 and initscripts; apt itself is not an example, but is a sort of pseudo-pseudo-essential special case as it refuses to try to remove itself.


(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".


Short for "(Stable) Proposed Updates"; used to tag subject lines of processing requests. See also OPU, TPU.


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"

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


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). Currently these are the bugs with critical, grave and serious severity level.

Can mean:
  • 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 highest package priority; not to be confused with essential.


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.


Short for "Request For Review"; an i18n mailinglist label used (e.g. as part of the Smith Project debconf review process) to call for extra reviewers to inspect a set of proposed amendments.


Short for "Request For Sponsor". See DebianMentorsFaq and mentors.debian.net.


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.


A proposed distribution similar to testing but intended to be advertised as continuously usable. Work is in progress on an unofficial implementation.


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 technical uses (not Debian-specific), 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 of Security Team"; used in bug reports for package removal, to indicate that issues have been confirmed by the Security Team.


Short for "Request Tracker".



A port (and release architecture in Squeeze) using the Linux kernel on IBM s/390 AKA zSeries mainframe hardware.


A new port (and release architecture in Wheezy) using the Linux kernel and providing a 64bit userland on s390-style hardware.


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


The codename for Debian 3.1, release date: 2005.

Can mean:
  • A notional subdivision of the Debian repositories into functional categories such as "admin", "kde", and "video".
  • Also sometimes used (e.g. in apt-ftparchive(1)) as a synonym for archive area.


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


An RC bug severity.


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


Sometimes seen as an alternative name for sh4.


A port (not yet a release architecture but available via debports) using the Linux kernel on Hitachi 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 ("Still In Development" is an unofficial backronym). 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.

Can mean:


Including source code - a term used e.g. to distinguish a "normal" NMU from a binNMU.

Source package
Can mean:
  • 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 (and release architecture in Squeeze) 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" (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).


Short for "Stable Release Manager", a member of the Release Team - see Debian's Organizational Structure for details.


The stable suite is the distribution 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.

Stable Update Announcement (SUA)

The equivalent of a Debian Security Advisory for non-security-related Stable Updates, sent out to debian-stable-announce


A package priority (the lowest priority that's installed by default).


see Stable Update Announcement

Can mean:
  • A set of closely integrated packages (often multiple source packages), such as an "office suite".

  • Used in Release files and elsewhere to mean a repository holding one particular "branch" of Debian's development process - unstable, testing, and so on. Compare archive, distribution, release.



Short for "Travail à Faire" (French for "work to do"); an i18n mailinglist label used to indicate that a volunteer is needed to handle some work. Originated on debian-l10n-french, but now also used for instance in the Smith Project.

Tasks and Skills (T&S)

An element in the New Member checking process in which applicants are evaluated on their technical knowledge.


See .tdeb.


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.


Short for "Testing Proposed Updates"; used to tag subject lines of processing requests. See PU.


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.


See Tasks and Skills.



Short for "the Ultimate Debian Database". Not to be confused with "Ubuntu Distributed Development".


See .udeb.

Ultimate Debian Database (UDD)

A single SQL database gathering a lot of data about various aspects of Debian. See UDD, DDE, ProjectB.


Used to tag bug reports requesting a freeze exception.


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.

Can mean:
  • 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.


Putting a package into (the appropriate queue for) a repository, usually meaning on ftp-master.


A wanna-build state.


An optional field in control files listing any co-maintainers for a package besides the primary Maintainer (each of which has upload privileges).


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 potentially confusing senses (not Debian-specific):
  • 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(1) 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 (frozen) testing, to be released when ready as Debian 7.0.


The lowest bug severity (which can include things that aren't literally bugs at all).


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.



a prospective port (not yet on debports) using the Linux kernel on amd64-style (x86-64) hardware, but saving overhead by using a 32-bit pointer size.

X Strike Force (XSF)

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



. (dot)


The file extension used for a Debian changes file, which is a particular format of control file used by the Debian archive maintenance software to process updates to packages.


The file extension used for debug packages of a type implemented in Ubuntu but not in Debian - see AutomaticDebugPackages


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


Short for ".debian.org", as in "wiki.d.o". Sometimes all elements are abbreviated, as in p.d.o for packages.debian.org. Likewise, .d.n is used for ".debian.net".


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.