Chapter 12. Getting support for Debian GNU/Linux

Table of Contents

12.1. What other documentation exists on and for a Debian system?
12.2. Are there any on-line resources for discussing Debian?
12.2.1. Mailing lists
12.2.2. Web forum
12.2.3. Wiki
12.2.4. Maintainers
12.2.5. Usenet newsgroups
12.3. Is there a quick way to search for information on Debian GNU/Linux?
12.4. Are there logs of known bugs?
12.5. How do I report a bug in Debian?

12.1. What other documentation exists on and for a Debian system?

  • Installation instructions for the current release: see

  • The Debian GNU/Linux reference covers many aspects of system administration through shell-command examples. Basic tutorials, tips, and other information are provided for many different topics ranging from system administration to programming.

    Get it from the debian-reference package, or at

  • The Debian 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 etc. It also includes the technical requirements that each package must satisfy to be included in the distribution, and documents the basic technical aspects of Debian binary and source packages.

    Get it from the debian-policy package, or at

  • Documentation developed by the Debian Documentation Project. It is available at and includes user guides, administration guides and security guides for the Debian GNU/Linux operating system.

  • Documentation on installed Debian packages: Most packages have files that are unpacked into /usr/share/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. For instance, to see the manual page for the command `ls', execute man ls. Execute man man for more information on finding and viewing manual pages.

    New Debian users should note that the 'man' pages of many general system commands are not available until they install these packages:

  • 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 is 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', `dhelp' or `doccentral' commands, found in respective packages, or by using `yelp'.

12.2. 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 e-mail. We'll give some details on that, and mention some other useful resources. Even more resources are listed at the Debian Support webpage.

12.2.1. Mailing lists

There are a lot of Debian-related mailing lists.

On a system with the doc-debian package installed there is a complete list of mailing lists in /usr/share/doc/debian/mailing-lists.txt.

Debian mailing lists are named following the pattern debian-list-subject. Examples are debian-announce, debian-user, debian-news. To subscribe to any list debian-list-subject, send mail to with the word "subscribe" in the Subject: header. Be sure to remember to add -request to the e-mail address when using this method to subscribe or unsubscribe. Otherwise your e-mail will go to the list itself, which could be embarrassing or annoying, depending on your point of view.

You can subscribe to mailing lists using the WWW form. You can also un-subscribe using a WWW form.

The list manager's e-mail address is , in case you have any trouble.

The mailing lists are public forums. All e-mails sent to the lists are also copied to the public archive, for anybody (even non-subscribers) to browse or search. 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 have been known to abuse e-mail addresses posted to our mailing lists. See the Mailing Lists Privacy policy for more information.

Archives of the Debian mailing lists are available via WWW at What is the code of conduct for the mailing lists?

When using the Debian mailing lists, please follow these rules:

  • Do not send spam. See the Debian mailing list advertising policy.

  • Do not flame; it is not polite. The people developing Debian are all volunteers, donating their time, energy and money in an attempt to bring the Debian project together.

  • Do not use foul language; besides, some people receive the lists via packet radio, where swearing is illegal.

  • Make sure that you are using the proper list. Never post your (un)subscription requests to the mailing list itself.[7]

  • See section Section 12.5, “How do I report a bug in Debian?” for notes on reporting bugs.

12.2.2. Web forum

Debian User Forums provides web forums on which you can submit questions about Debian and have them answered by other users. (It is not an officially part of the Debian project.)

12.2.3. Wiki

Solutions to common problems, howtos, guides, tips and other documentation can be found at the constantly changing Debian Wiki.

12.2.4. Maintainers

Users can address questions to individual package maintainers using e-mail. To reach a maintainer of a package called xyz, send e-mail to

12.2.5. 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 Linux Online and LinuxJournal sites.

12.3. 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 Debian:

  • Debian WWW search site.

  • Google Groups: a search engine for newsgroups.

    For example, to find out what experiences people have had with finding drivers for NVIDIA graphic cards under Debian, try searching the phrase NVIDIA Linux driver. This will show you all the posts 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 posts specifically related to Debian.

  • Any of the common web spidering engines, such as DuckDuckGo or Google, as long as you use the right search terms.

    For example, searching on the string "evince" gives a more detailed explanation of this package than the brief description field in its control file.

12.4. Are there logs of known bugs?

Reports on unsolved (and closed) issues are publicly available: Debian promissed to do so by stating "We will not hide problems" in the Debian Social Contract.

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. Once it has been dealt with, it is marked as such.

Copies of this information are available at

A mail server provides access to the bug tracking system database via e-mail. In order to get the instructions, send an e-mail to with "help" in the body.

12.5. How do I report a bug in Debian?

If you have found a bug in Debian, please read the instructions for reporting a bug in Debian. These instructions can be obtained in one of several ways:

  • From the WWW. A copy of the instructions is shown at

  • On any Debian system with the doc-debian package installed. The instructions are in the file /usr/share/doc/debian/bug-reporting.txt.

You can use the package 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. It will also show you a list of bugs already reported to the package you are reporting against in case your bug has been reported previously, so that you can add additional information to the existing bug report.

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.

[7] Use the address for that.