Creating a high-quality free operating system also includes writing technical manuals which describe the operation and use of programs. The Debian project is making every effort to provide all users with good documentation in an easily accessible form. This page contains a collection of links, leading to installation guides, HOWTOs, FAQs, release notes, our Wiki, and more.
If you are new to Debian we recommend you start with the following two guides:
Do have these at hand when you make your first Debian installation, it will probably answer many questions and help you work with your new Debian system.
Later, you might want to go through these documents:
- Debian Reference: a terse user guide, focussing on shell commands
- Release Notes: usually published with Debian updates, aiming at users upgrading the distribution
- Debian Wiki: official Debian wiki and a good source of information for newcomers
Most of the documentation included in Debian was written for GNU/Linux in general, but there is also some documentation written specifically for Debian. Basically, the documents are sorted into these categories:
- Manuals: Those guides resemble books, because they comprehensively describe major topics. A lot of manuals listed below are available both online and in Debian packages. In fact, most of the manuals on the website are extracted from their respective Debian packages. Choose a manual below for its package name and/or links to the online versions.
- HOWTOs: Like the name indicates, the HOWTO documents describe how to do a particular thing, i.e. they offer detailed and practical advice about the way to do something.
- FAQs: We have compiled several documents answering frequently asked questions. Debian-related questions are answered in the Debian FAQ. Additionally, there is a separate FAQ about Debian CD/DVD images, answering all sorts of questions about installation media.
- Other (shorter) Documents: Please also check the list of shorter instructions.
Many of the manuals listed here are available both online and in Debian packages; in fact, most of the manuals on the website are extracted from their respective Debian packages. Choose a manual below for its package name and/or links to the online versions.
Manuals specific to Debian
The following documents include quicker, shorter instructions:
- Traditionally, all Unix programs are documented with manpages, reference manuals made available through the man command. They usually aren't meant for beginners, but document all features and functions of a command. The complete repository of all manpages available in Debian is online: https://manpages.debian.org/
- info files
- Many GNU software is documented through info files instead of manpages. These files include detailed information of the program itself, options and example usage. Info pages are available through the info command.
- README files
- README files are simple text files describing a single item, usually a package. You can find a lot of these files in the /usr/share/doc/ subdirectories on your Debian system. In addition to the README file, some of those directories include configuration examples. Please note that larger programs' documentation is typically provided in a separate package (same name as the original package, but ending in -doc).
- Debian GNU/Linux Reference Card
- Reference cards are very short summaries of a certain (sub)system and usually list the most common commands on a single piece of paper. The Debian GNU/Linux Reference Card provides a list of the most important commands of a Debian system. At least basic knowledge of files, directories, and the command line is required. Novice users might want to read the Debian Reference first.