Debian for contributing hackers / Ask me Anything

Some things about Debian you didn't know, some things about Debian you didn't ask for, some things you did know and hopefully some questions from you.

Debian for contributing hackers - ask me anything

if you only remember one thing from this: please file bugs. and do it again and again. also, if possible, send patches.

Debian turned 25 on August 16 2018!

Debian is the base for hundreds of distros and some of those are again the basis for others.

So Debian was started in 1993, I'm using Debian since 1995. Contributing since 2001, first DebConf in 2003, DD since 2007. Help running many DebConfs, started the videoteam. Now mostly works on piuparts, jenkins, Reproducible Builds and Debian Edu. Was asked to do this last week.


toy story names, Bruce Perens used to work for Pixar...

unstable is always sid

experimental is always rc-buggy

testing is now buster and will soon be bullseye, than bookworm

stable is stretch, released every ~23 months, since 14 years (or more?)...

oldstable is jessie, currently LTS (until 5 years after its original release)

oldoldstable is wheezy, currently eLTS (currently 6 years, maybe more in future)

Buster will be Debian 10.

Stretch is Debian 9.

Jessie was Debian 8.

Stretch 9.5 is the 6th point release of Stretch 9. Point releases contain important bug and security fixes and can be easily upgraded too, install media also usually keep working. Some places still speak of 9.5.0...

Debian unstable is pretty usable and has the latest shit. Stable is stable.

systemd - yes, you can have Debian without systemd. Just having a desktop is... more interesting ;) actually help is needed here..

Debian is fundamentally package based. Everything is in a package. apt install foo apt source foo && cd foo-* && debuild -b man dpkg-buildpackage

Maintaining packages

anybody can do this, no affiliation with Debian required, just working code.


anyone can triage any bug too, without authentication, just via email

real names / passport names

not mandatory

explain BTS first (BTS=bug tracking system) Debian is fundamentally package based. Everything is in a package. See list of pseudo-packages$pkg subject=title body,1st line: package=$pkg

better learn to use reportbug early x-debbugs-cc:

Social Contract Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) Debian Constitution Debian Policy Diversity Statement$src

PTS subscription GITlab has all the sources$src


simple yet powerful email interface$src

reproducible builds

started in Debian wiki$src and docs etc

DebConf18 in Hsinchu, DebConf19 in Curitiba - great community smaller DebConfs are very nice too, but not the same :) a miniDebConf 2019 in Hamburg, several others each year

IRC is an alias for


Sponsors wanted: general (for hardware, sprints, GSoC, etc) for DebConf (e)LTS

Thank you! Debian is the product of the work of ten thousands.

Ask me anything

What (else) do you want to know? (General questions prefered, specific questions after the talk please)

URLs for Debian for contributing hackers / Ask me Anything



  • Tuesday Aug. 21 18:00 - 19:00 at Speakers Tent