Debian Glossary Only.
If you don't find the entry you wanted below, check
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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.
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 (guest) account
- 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 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:
- An organized, searchable collection of files, such as a software repository
- 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.
The codename for Debian 1.3, release date: 1997
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 wanna-build state
- (Not Debian-specific) A piece of architecture in the non-jargon sense
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.
The codename for Debian 1.1, release date: 1996
Short for "Common Debian Build System" (provided by cdbs)
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"
- 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
- Has two related Debian-specific meanings:
(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"
Short for the "Debian Documentation Project"
- Two things distinguished by capitalization:
- Debian Account
- Debian Account Manager (DAM)
- Debian Contributor
- Debian Data Export (DDE)
- Debian Developer (DD)
- 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 over 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
- 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
- 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)
- Debian System Administrators (DSA)
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
- Dependency-based boot
- 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
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.
- 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".
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.
- DM-Upload-Allowed (DMUA)
Short for "Debian Project Leader"
The Debian Python Modules Team, who work to improve the Python modules situation in Debian.
- Dummy package
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.
The codename for Debian 4.0, release date: 2007
The lowest package priority
(Plus more rarely failed-removed) A wanna-build state
- 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.
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
- FTP master
- Several things, none of which necessarily involve the File Transfer Protocol:
The ftp-master server, the primary copy of the Debian archive
- Senior members of this team also rank as "FTP Masters"
- General Resolution (GR)
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
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
- Two Debian-specific meanings:
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 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.
- 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. 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
A low bug severity
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
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.
(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
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.
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.
A package priority (the highest priority that's not installed by default)
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 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.
- (In Java, TeX, etc.) A unit of software with a single shared namespace
- Package maintenance
- Package management
- Package Tracking System (PTS)
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.
- (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
The codename for Debian 2.2, release date: 2000
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").
Short for "Package Tracking System"
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 "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 MIT Compatible Time-Sharing System back in the sixties, "runcom files"
see Debian Release
The occasion of a new stable version of Debian being declared ready for production use;
- 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)
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 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 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 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"
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
- 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 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.
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 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.
A package priority (the lowest priority that's installed by default)
A set of closely integrated packages (often multiple source packages), such as an "office suite"
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
- Ultimate Debian Database (UDD)
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 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 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 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).
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
The lowest bug severity (which can include things that aren't literally bugs at all)
The codename for Debian 3.0, release date: 2002
- X Strike Force (XSF)
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 the standard installable binary package format used by Debian-based distributions.
The file extension used for (proposed) separate translation packages - see Dep-4