Basic Linux Admin Tasks (Debian/Ubuntu)

How do I...

Become root?

Best way is to log in as yourself and type "sudo -s". (Or "sudo tcsh" or some other shell of your choice.) It'll ask for a password, use your regular login password. If that still doesn't work, contact your supervisor or group's CSCF Research Point of Contact.

See if a package is installed?

Try: dpkg -l "*PKGNAME*" (that's a lower case L option, not the digit One)

Install a piece of software?

Best way is to become root, then run apt-get update to update the list of possible packages. After, you can search for Debian package names with apt-cache search foo. Once you have a package name, try apt-get install packagename.

Install a package from source, the Debian/Ubuntu way?

Sometimes, you want to hand-compile a package yourself instead of using the existing .deb package. apt-get can help. As root, run apt-get build-dep [packagename]

You will receive all of the dependencies with their source code. You may then download the source from your preferred location and customize it. An example:

# apt-get build-dep f-spot
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree... Done
The following packages will be REMOVED:
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  build-essential cdbs cli-common dpatch g++ g++-4.0 libbonobo2-dev
  libbonoboui2-dev libexif-dev libgconf2-dev libgnome-keyring-dev
  libgnome2-dev libgnomecanvas2-dev libgnomeui-dev libgnomevfs2-dev
  libgphoto2-2-dev libidl-dev libmono-dev liborbit2-dev libsqlite0-dev
  libstdc++6-4.0-dev mono-mcs mono-utils
0 upgraded, 23 newly installed, 1 to remove and 98 not upgraded.
Need to get 10.5MB of archives.

To use the standard debian/ubuntu source for this package:

# cd /usr/src
# wget [package source url]        # or:
# apt-get source [package-name]    # ...and follow the normal source building process

Update my install?

Try apt-get update followed by apt-get upgrade to upgrade currently installed packages.

If you want to get all of the recommended packages for a complete distribution upgrade, do apt-get dist-upgrade or apt-get -f dist-upgrade to fix any dependency problems.

Find out what package "owns" a file?

Do dpkg -S /path/to/file.

Use a CD for Package updating?

  • you need a debian packages CD
  • as root:
    apt-cdrom add
    apt-get update
    apt-get [upgrade|install|dist-upgrade]

What should my =/etc/apt/sources.list file look like?

If your question isn't answered here, try DebianHowTo or HowToQuestions.

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Topic revision: r6 - 2010-03-26 - TrevorGrove
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