This manual describes the policy requirements for the Debian GNU/Linux distribution. This includes the structure and contents of the Debian archive and several design issues of the operating system, as well as technical requirements that each package must satisfy to be included in the distribution.
This manual also describes Debian policy as it relates to creating Debian packages. It is not a tutorial on how to build packages, nor is it exhaustive where it comes to describing the behavior of the packaging system. Instead, this manual attempts to define the interface to the package management system that the developers have to be conversant with.
The footnotes present in this manual are merely informative, and are not part of Debian policy itself.
In this manual, the words must, should and may, and the adjectives required, recommended and optional, are used to distinguish the significance of the various guidelines in this policy document. Packages that do not conform to the guidelines denoted by must (or required) will generally not be considered acceptable for the Debian distribution. Non-conformance with guidelines denoted by should (or recommended) will generally be considered a bug, but will not necessarily render a package unsuitable for distribution. Guidelines denoted by may (or optional) are truly optional and adherence is left to the maintainer's discretion.
These classifications are roughly equivalent to the bug severities serious (for must or required directive violations), minor, normal or important (for should or recommended directive violations) and wishlist (for optional items).
Much of the information presented in this manual will be useful even when building a package which is to be distributed in some other way or is intended for local use only.
The current version of this document is always accessible from the Debian FTP
(also available from the same directory are several other formats:
policy.html.tar.gz, policy.pdf.gz and
policy.ps.gz) or from the
Debian Policy Manual
In addition, this manual is distributed via the Debian package debian-policy.
The debian-policy package also includes the file upgrading-checklist.txt which indicates policy changes between versions of this document.
As the Debian GNU/Linux system is continuously evolving this manual does so too.
While the authors of this document have tried hard to avoid typos and other
errors, these do still occur. If you discover an error in this manual or if
you want to give any comments, suggestions, or criticisms please send an email
to the Debian Policy List,
or submit a bug report against the debian-policy package.
Debian Policy Manualversion 126.96.36.199, 2002-03-14