Packages (Buster)

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This document covers package management itself, in addition to documenting some smaller packages that I use.


I tend to use aptitude rather than apt-get, personally, and I always turn off 'auto-resolve dependencies' and 'install recommended packages automatically'.

  • apt-get install aptitude aptitude-doc-en apt-transport-https lsb-release ca-certificates curl

Your mileage may vary, but I try to know something about every component going into my system.

  • /etc/apt/sources.list
deb buster main
deb-src buster main
deb buster/updates main
deb-src buster/updates main
deb buster-updates main
deb-src buster-updates main
deb buster-backports main
deb-src buster-backports main

If running PHP, you may want to go for the package maintainer's repo. Run:

curl -sSL -o /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/php.gpg
sh -c 'echo "deb $(lsb_release -sc) main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/php.list'

Generally a good idea to try to find your closest mirror. Sometimes your host even provides a mirror - will certainly make them happier if you use it.

To save time, I automatically run apt-get update hourly, through cron:

  • /etc/cron.hourly/apt-get-update
# Much simpler than the cron-apt package.
/usr/bin/apt-get update
/usr/bin/apt-get -dy upgrade


chmod 0750 /etc/cron.hourly/apt-get-update

This automatically checks for updates, and downloads them, but it does not apply them.

Package Additions

  • conntrack sysstat iotop lm-sensors sash libpam-tmpdir zip unzip libdigest-whirlpool-perl acct nmap cgdb sudo
    • You may want to devote some time to what acct and sysstat can do for you.
  • Development: apt-get install fakeroot debhelper build-essential

Package Removal

Debian has some defaults that you probably do not need on a server:

  • Careful purge: task-ssh-server (be sure not to lose your actual ssh server).
  • Basic Purge: task-english console-setup-linux isc-dhcp-client isc-dhcp-common laptop-detect libx11-data libxau6 libxdmcp6 portmap tasksel xauth xkb-data
  • The culturally insensitive may also purge: console-setup console-terminus kbd keyboard-configuration
    • /etc/console-setup may need to get removed manually


Significantly more lightweight than ntp, easier to configure and one less server to run. If you have a number of machines at a site, you may want to run one server and have the others pull off of it. Beyond this, though,

You will need to create the config:

  • /etc/ntpsec/ntp.conf
# /etc/ntpsec/ntp.conf, configuration for ntpd; see ntp.conf(5) for help
driftfile /var/lib/ntpsec/ntp.drift
leapfile /usr/share/zoneinfo/leap-seconds.list
# You must create /var/log/ntpsec (owned by ntpsec:ntpsec) to enable logging.
#statsdir /var/log/ntpsec/
#statistics loopstats peerstats clockstats
#filegen loopstats file loopstats type day enable
#filegen peerstats file peerstats type day enable
#filegen clockstats file clockstats type day enable
# Comment this out if you have a refclock and want it to be able to discipline
# the clock by itself (e.g. if the system is not connected to the network).
tos minclock 4 minsane 3
# Specify one or more NTP servers.
# maps to about 1000 low-stratum NTP servers.  Your server will
# pick a different set every time it starts up.  Please consider joining the
# pool: <>
# I switched to Google's servers, as ntpdate tends to pick one and fails hard if there's an issue rather than trying a different server.
server iburst
server iburst
server iburst
server iburst
#pool iburst
#pool iburst
#pool iburst
#pool iburst
# Note that Google implements leap smearing. Don't combine leap-smearing and non-leap-smearing servers.
# Access control configuration; see /usr/share/doc/ntpsec-doc/html/accopt.html
# for details.
# Note that "restrict" applies to both servers and clients, so a configuration
# that might be intended to block requests from certain clients could also end
# up blocking replies from your own upstream servers.
# By default, exchange time with everybody, but don't allow configuration.
restrict default kod nomodify nopeer noquery limited
# Local users may interrogate the ntp server more closely.
restrict ::1
  • /etc/cron.hourly/ntpdate
#ntpdate autorun
# -4 forces ipv4, -6 forces ipv6. 
if [ -f /usr/sbin/ntpdate-debian ]; then
   /usr/sbin/ntpdate-debian -4B >/dev/null
  • Run:
chmod 0750 /etc/cron.hourly/ntpdate

Random silly packages

  • fortunes (and friends), cowsay, filters
    • Is good to greet visitors with a talking cow. Reminds you how seriously you should take your job.
  • bsdgames, nethack-console, slashem
    • One of these decades I will get around to ascending...