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Debian Reference
Chapter 15 - Support for Debian

The following resources provide help, advice, and support for Debian. Try your best to use self-help resources before crying out loud in the mailing lists. :)

Note that you can access a lot of documentation on your system by using a WWW browser, via the dwww or dhelp commands, found in their respective packages.

15.1 References

The following references are available for Debian and Linux in general. If their contents conflict with each other, always rely more on primary information sources than on secondary ones such as this document.

The following references are available for Unix in general. Please note that there are some minor differences between different Unix systems. Device names and init methods need extra attention.

15.2 Finding the meaning of a word

Many words used in Debian are cryptic jargon or acronyms. The following will solve most questions (requires dict package and related packages):

     $ dict put-a-weird-word-here

15.3 Finding the popularity of a Debian package

Many packages exist in Debian and it is sometimes difficult to know which one to try first. See Debian Popularity Contest Results to get insight into what others are using. Also install the popularity-contest package to contribute.

15.4 The Debian bug tracking system

The Debian distribution has a bug tracking system (BTS) which files details of bugs reported by users and developers. Each bug is given a number, and is kept on file until it is marked as having been dealt with.

You should check to see whether your bug report has already been filed by someone else before submitting it. Lists of currently outstanding bugs are available on the World Wide Web and elsewhere. See also Check bugs in Debian and seek help, Section 6.3.1.

There may be many release-critical bug reports marked with FTBFS. This means "Fails To Build From Source".

Instructions for reporting a bug are given at http://www.debian.org/Bugs/Reporting.

15.5 Mailing lists

Read at least "debian-devel-announce" (English, read-only and low-traffic) to stay current with Debian.

The mailing lists of most interest to Debian users are "debian-user" (English, open and high-traffic) and other "debian-user-language" lists (for other languages).

For information on these lists and details of how to subscribe, see http://lists.debian.org/. Please check the archives for answers to your question prior to posting and also adhere to standard list etiquette.

If you do not wish to get CCed for the reply to your mailing list posting, use the Mail-Followup-To: header which is a very effective measure. This is the informal convention of mailing lists as explained in http://cr.yp.to/proto/replyto.html.

15.6 Internet Relay Chat (IRC)

IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is a way to chat with people from all over the world in real time. IRC channels dedicated to Debian can be found on the freenode IRC network. To connect, you need an IRC client. Some of the most popular clients are XChat, BitchX, ircII, irssi, epic4, and KSirc, all of which have been packaged for Debian. Once you have the client installed, you need to tell it to connect to the server. In most clients, you can do that by typing:

     /server irc.debian.org

Once you are connected, join channel #debian by typing

     /join #debian

To leave channel #debian type

     /part #debian

You can quit the irc client by typing


To send a private message "Hello Mr. Foo" to foo type

     /msg foo Hello Mr. Foo

Note that anything you type without the preceding / is sent to the channel as a message.

Note: clients like XChat often have a different graphical user interface for joining servers/channels.

15.7 Search engines

There are many search engines that serve documentation related to Debian:

For example, searching on the string "cgi-perl" gives a more detailed explanation of this package than the brief description field in its control file. See Check bugs in Debian and seek help, Section 6.3.1 for related advice.

15.8 Websites

The following are a few random URLs I collected for specific issues.

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Debian Reference

CVS, Mon Jun 16 21:20:26 UTC 2008

Osamu Aoki osamu#at#debian.org
Authors, Section A.1