- Basic use
- Subscription / Unsubscription
- Code of conduct
- List maintenance
- Debian mailing list advertising policy / Spam Fighting
Debian is developed through distributed development all around the world. Therefore, e-mail is the preferred way to discuss various items. Much of the conversation between Debian developers and users is managed through several mailing lists.
There are many world-open mailing lists, meaning anyone can read everything that is posted, and participate in the discussions. Everyone is encouraged to help development of Debian and to spread the word of free software. There are also a few lists which are only open to official Debian developers; please don't interpret this as closed development, it sometimes doesn't make much sense discussing internal topics with non-developers.
All original Debian mailing lists are run on a special server, using an
automatic mail processing software called SmartList. This server
All submission, subscription and unsubscription messages have to be sent
to a particular address at this host.
Each Debian mailing list has a submission address in the form email@example.com, a control request address in the form firstname.lastname@example.org, and a web page at http://lists.debian.org/listname/.
To send an email to a list, simply send it to the submission address. To subscribe to a list to be able to read incoming mails as they arrive, or to unsubscribe from a list, use the control request address (see below).
The current list of available mailing lists is at http://lists.debian.org/, presented sorted by topic and unsorted.
We also maintain some usage statistics for the mailing lists: check the average number of posts before subscribing to a list in order to avoid being flooded by mails.
The mailing lists are public forums.
There may be other places where lists are distributed — please make sure you never send any confidential or unlicensed material to the lists. This includes things like e-mail addresses. Of particular note is the fact that spammers, viruses, worms etc have been known to abuse e-mail addresses posted to our mailing lists.
Debian maintains the mailing lists in good faith and will take steps to curb all noticed abuse and maintain uninterrupted normal service. At the same time, Debian is not responsible for all mailing list posts or anything that may happen in relation to them.
Please see our disclaimer of responsibility for more information.
Anyone is able to subscribe/unsubscribe on their own to any mailing list,
presuming the subscription policy for a particular list is
You can use simple web forms to subscribe or unsubscribe from individual mailing lists, available at their respective web pages at http://lists.debian.org/.
To subscribe or unsubscribe from multiple mailing lists at once, use the list subscription or unsubscription web forms, respectively. The former page also includes descriptions and the subscription policy for each list.
The requests for subscription or unsubscription can also be sent by email, to a special control address, which is slightly different from the lists address. Subscription or unsubscription messages should NOT be sent to the address of the mailing list itself.
To subscribe to or unsubscribe from a mailing list, please send mail to
with the word
unsubscribe as subject.
Please remember the -REQUEST part of the address.
As part of the subscription process, the list software will send you an email to which you must reply in order to finish subscribing. This is a security measure to keep people from subscribing others to the lists without their permission.
Please remember that an unsubscription request should be sent from
the address that is subscribed. If that is not possible, the Subject:
header should be:
email@example.com, or you can use the unsubscription web form.
If you're receiving mail from a mailing list but you can't find the address through which you are subscribed, you can use the full headers of the received messages which will include something like this:
From firstname.lastname@example.org Tue Apr 22 01:38:14 2003
This tells you reliably that the list in question is called
debian-foo and that the subscribed address is
email@example.com. In this (fictional) case you would
send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with
unsubscribe email@example.com in the Subject field.
Unfortunately it's currently impossible to subscribe with a username
that matches procmail's check for mail coming from a daemon. This means
that a username may not have
master or similar
strings in it (see procmailrc(5) for
Another known limitation in our mailing list software is that most rejected e-mails get silently dropped, so the user has no real indication on what went wrong. For example, it is common for people to try to subscribe an address that is already subscribed: SmartList will simply ignore their e-mail.
If you are uncertain as to whether you are subscribed to a mailing list of ours, send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with which your.email@address in the body. Further information about this service (the so-called
When using the Debian mailing lists, please follow these rules:
- The mailing lists exist to foster the development and use of Debian. Non-constructive or off-topic messages, along with other abuses, are not welcome.
- Do not send spam; see the advertising policy below.
- Send all of your e-mails in English. Only use other languages on mailing lists where that is explicitly allowed (e.g. French on debian-user-french).
- Make sure that you are using the proper list. In particular, don't send user-related questions to developer-related mailing lists.
- Wrap your lines at 80 characters or less for ordinary discussion. Lines longer than 80 characters are acceptable for computer-generated output (e.g., ls -l).
- Do not send automated
- Do not send
testmessages to determine whether your mail client is working.
- Do not send subscription or unsubscription requests to the list address itself; use the respective -request address instead.
- Never send your messages in HTML; use plain text instead.
- Avoid sending large attachments.
- Do not quote messages that were sent to you by other people in private mail, unless agreed beforehand.
- When replying to messages on the mailing list, do not send a carbon copy (CC) to the original poster unless they explicitly request to be copied.
- If you want to complain to someone who sent you a carbon copy when you did not ask for it, do it privately.
- If you send messages to lists to which you are not subscribed, always note that fact in the body of your message.
- Do not use foul language; besides, some people receive the lists via packet radio, where swearing is illegal.
- Try not to flame; it is not polite.
- Use common sense all the time.
If you wish to request a new mailing list, please read the HOWTO.
If you're having problems subscribing or unsubscribing, please make sure you've followed the proper procedure before trying to contact us. Make sure that you have seen the caveats regarding subscription/unsubscription.
If you were unable to unsubscribe from a mailing list, please include a copy of all the headers of an example message that you have received from that list in your e-mail.
The sending of any kind of unsolicited bulk email (also known as
to any of the Debian lists is prohibited.
Senders of such messages can get blocked from posting on lists
and/or reported to the relevant authorities.
The Debian Listmasters do their best to stop as many such emails as possible from reaching the lists. On a typical day, over 40,000 such messages are blocked.
Many of the rules we use to block spammers and their messages have been reported
to us by subscribers. If you wish to help us reduce the amount of spam even more, your
help is very much appreciated.
To report spam properly, you need to do the following:
- Find a copy of the message at the list archives.
- Find a SpamAssassin rule to catch this type of spam. Keep in mind that this rule will be applied against all lists, and that we want to keep the false positives to a minimum. (you can see our ruleset at http://svn.debian.org/viewsvn/pkg-listmaster/trunk/spamassassin_config/)
- Send email to email@example.com with the exact URL of the message, and the said filter rule, if possible.
You will get a reply when we act on your submission.
Please bear in mind that we will only act on reported spam messages/patterns that have been sent in the last few hours, because there is no point in having out of date filtering rules.
Also, please do not send any pre-packaged lists of rules you have found somewhere. They very rarely provide good results on our lists, because they receive some pretty unique traffic.
Do not allow any emails that you receive from any Debian mailing lists to be sent to an automated spam reporting system. Doing so is often harmful to all users and will force us to block you from receiving traffic from all Debian lists until you prove that you will not do so again.
More efforts to reduce spam on the lists and in the archive http://lists.debian.org/ can be found at http://wiki.debian.org/Teams/ListMaster/ListArchiveSpam