Policy manual documents the policy requirements for the distribution, i.e. the
structure and contents of the Debian archive, several design issues of the
operating system, as well as technical requirements that each package must
satisfy to be included in the distribution.
Documentation on installed Debian packages: Most packages have files that are
unpacked into /usr/doc/PACKAGE.
Documentation on the Linux project: The Debian package doc-linux
installs all of the most recent versions of the HOWTOs and mini-HOWTOs from the
Linux Documentation Project.
Unix-style `man' pages: Most commands have manual pages written in the style of
the original Unix 'man' files. They are referenced by the section of the 'man'
directory where they reside: e.g., foo(3) refers to a manual page which resides
in /usr/share/man/man3/, and it can be called by executing the command:
man 3 foo, or just man foo if section 3 is the first
one containing a page on foo.
One can learn which directory of /usr/share/man/ contains a
certain manual page by executing man -w foo.
New Debian users should note that the 'man' pages of many general system
commands are not available until they install these packages:
man-db, which contains the man program itself, and
other programs for manipulating the manual pages.
GNU-style `info' pages: User documentation for many commands, particularly GNU
tools, is available not in `man' pages, but in `info' files which can be read
by the GNU tool info, by running M-x info within GNU
Emacs, or with some other Info page viewer.
Its main advantage over the original `man' pages are that it is a hypertext
system. It does not require the WWW, however; info can
be run from a plain text console. It was designed by Richard Stallman and
preceded the WWW.
Note that you may access a lot of documentation on your system by using a WWW
browser, through `dwww' or `dhelp' commands, found in respective packages.
11.2 Are there any on-line resources for discussing Debian?
Yes. In fact, the main method of support Debian provides to our users is by
the way of email.
On a system with the doc-debian package installed there is a
complete list of mailing lists in
To subscribe to debian-X (for X in announce, user, etc.), send mail to
debian-Xfirstname.lastname@example.org with the word "subscribe" in the
Subject: header. If you have a forms-capable World Wide Web browser, you can
subscribe the mailing lists using the WWW form. You
can also un-subscribe using a WWW form.
Users can address questions to individual package maintainers using email. To
reach a maintainer of a package called xyz, send email to
11.2.3 Usenet newsgroups
Users should post non-Debian-specific questions to one of the Linux USENET
groups, which are named comp.os.linux.* or linux.*. There are several lists of
Linux Usenet newsgroups and other related resources on the WWW, e.g. on the
and LinuxJournal sites.
11.3 Is there a quick way to search for information on Debian GNU/Linux?
There is a variety of search engines that serve documentation related to
For example, to find out what experiences people have had with finding drivers
for Promise controllers under Debian, try searching on the phrase Promise
Linux driver. This will show you all the postings that contain these
strings, i.e. those where people discussed these topics. If you add
Debian to those search strings, you'll also get the postings
specifically related to Debian.
Any of the common web spidering engines, such as AltaVista or Google, as long as you use the right
For example, searching on the string "cgi-perl" gives a more detailed
explanation of this package than the brief description field in its control
11.4 Are there logs of known bugs?
The Debian GNU/Linux 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.
On any Debian system with the doc-debian package installed. The
instructions are in the file /usr/doc/debian/bug-reporting.txt.
You can use the packages bug or reportbug that will
guide you through the reporting process and mail the message to the proper
address, with some extra details about your system added automatically.
If you want to mail the report with a MUA, send a message to email@example.com, first
line of which containing a line like
(replace "packagename" with the name of the package). The rest of
the message should contain the description of the bug (please make it
moderately detailed), Debian release you are using, and versions of that and
Expect to get an automatic acknowledgement of your bug report. It will also be
automatically given a bug tracking number, entered into the bug log and
forwarded to the debian-bugs-dist mailing list.
If one were to identify a bug that was common to many programs, then rather
than entering dozens of very similar bug reports, one might prefer to send
individual bugs to firstname.lastname@example.org
(instead of the submit@... address) to reach only the respective package
maintainers, and then send a summary report to debian-devel and/or
debian-bugs-dist mailing lists.
Additionally, there exists a Debian package checker, called Lintian, which is designed to
mechanically check Debian packages for policy violations and common packaging
errors. Thus, if you detect a bug in a package which is likely to appear in
other packages too, it might be better to get in contact with the Lintian
maintainers at email@example.com so
that a new check is written for Lintian instead of reporting the bug directly.
This will most likely prevent the bug to appear in future versions of the
package again, or in any other package of the distribution.
You can also use firstname.lastname@example.org, to submit
bug reports to the BTS only, without having them sent either to
debian-bugs-dist or to the maintainer. This `quiet' address is used very
rarely, e.g. when you want to send some minor data to your report, that should
just be recorded in the log, or when you want to record something in the BTS
log but you already sent it to the maintainer.