Skip to content.
The Debian System -- Concepts and Techniques The Debian System -- Concepts and Techniques
Martin F. Krafft Open Source Press / No Starch Press ISBN 3-937514-07-4 / 1-593270-69-0
Personal tools

About the book

Document Actions
Author Martin F. Krafft Martin F. Krafft
Publisher Open Source Press
No Starch Press
Availability Central Europe Rest of the globe
ISBN 3-937514-07-4 1-593270-69-0
Publication date 22 June 2005 15 September 2005
Language English English
Format Hardcover Softcover (RepKover™)
Pages 608 608
Addon official Debian 3.1r0a "sarge" DVD
(first binary DVD for i386)
official Debian 3.1r0a "sarge" DVD
(first binary DVD for i386)
Price 44,90 EUR [D] / Sfr. 74,90 $44.95 (US)
  Author and publisher together
donate 1 EUR of each sold copy
to the Debian project.
Author and publisher together
donate $1 (USD) of each sold
copy to the Debian project

For information about why there are two different versions and what the differences are, please consult the list of frequently asked questions.

Mailing list

Please subscribe to the announcements mailing list to receive the occasional announcement related to this book. Alternatively, an RSS feed of announcements, changes, and errata is available. Another RSS feed delivers only the announcements.


Debian GNU/Linux does not try to be easy to install, but rather focuses on straightforward administration with robust, flexible, and proven tools. The Debian system is an operating system designed to follow your agenda, rather than expecting you to keep up with it. The solid, straightforward, and reliable base system causes more and more people to trade currency for stability and maturity by choosing Debian GNU/Linux.

This book introduces the concepts and techniques you will need to know to successfully administer the Debian system. In addition to examples and common pitfalls, it explains just why the Debian developers chose certain approaches over others. As you learn about the motivations behind the Debian solutions, you get an idea of the level of experience and sophistication that has flowed into the various system components, and you learn to embrace their elegance. This book aims to be the resource on Debian GNU/Linux, as well as an enticing companion on your path towards advanced Debian administration.

While targeted at the well-versed Unix or Linux administrator as well as current users of Debian GNU/Linux, this book makes an excellent resource alongside a standard Linux reference to bootstrap your Linux experience in Debian's bottom-up philosophy.

Downloadable content

If you are having problems downloading these files and your browser/viewer complains that the file does not start with "%PDF-", then you have hit a bug in Firefox and/or Mozilla. One workaround is to right-click on the above links and save the PDF file to your hard disk, then use your PDF viewer to open it outside of your browser instance.

I apologise for the inconvenience but cannot seem to track down the problem. If you have any insights to offer, please send them my way!

About the author

Document Actions

Martin F. Krafft (or "madduck", as he's commonly known) is a dedicated Debian developer and computer science enthusiast, currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Limerick, Ireland. As a freelance consultant and trainer, he teaches network security and privacy protection to a professional audience. Martin also assists small to medium-sized companies through the process of calling for, assessing, and supervising tenders, specifically related to security and network infrastructure, but also databases and application servers.

Look anywhere around Martin and all you'll see is Linux; Debian, to be more precise: his 23 servers spread all over the globe, the machines of his colleagues and friends, his leisure reading, the stuff in his flat, and his wardrobe. When he jumped on the bandwaggon in 1995, Unix felt like the long-awaited rain after the drought. As Windows Betatester and NetWare junkie, he had tried hard to help improve the Redmond operating system, but NT 3.51 left a lot of desires unsatisfied. NT 4.0 was so frustrating that upon its release, Martin waved goodbye to double-clicks, eyecandy, and blu screens, and entered the Linux world.

After Slackware, RedHat and SuSE, he finally found Debian in 1997. He has been a faithful supporter of Debian, concentrating on security aspects, quality assurance and usability, public representation, and, as of late, workflow issues. Martin became a Debian developer in 2002 after several years of involvement with the project on fairs and the mailing lists. He also maintains somewhere around 30 packages, but most of them are now in the capable hands of new developers, whom he taught and sponsored.

Right after receiving his Honors Bachelor degree in Computer Science, Psychology, and Cognitive Science at Swarthmore College, Martin returned to Munich, his hometown. As freelance consultant and partner of Munich's AERAsec GmbH, he began to train professional administrators in the fields of network security, privacy protection, and Linux. Together with Heinlein Linux Akademie, Martin offers courses about Debian and other open source topics.

To fill the 24 hours of his days efficiently, Martin is working on his Ph.D. thesis with Prof. Brian Fitzgerald at the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems of the University of Limerick, Ireland. The topic is on method diffusion in large, globally-spaced volunteer projects (such as Debian), and more details are available in the proposal, which was accepted in October 2005. He was previously a Ph.D. student in robotics and artificial intelligence at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, but gave in to the overpowering urge to spend more time on Debian and workflow issues.

Apart from his not-for-profit server infrastructure (spanning 23 machines on four continents), Martin has gathered experience in the administration of middle-sized networks and user support. As administrative assistant, he helped keep the network at his school running, and later administered the terminal cluster at the computer lab of his university. During an internship, he automated the migration of 1,600 workstations to Windows NT 4.0 and helped the users find their way after the update. Today, Martin is responsible for a number of servers as well a 40 node (FAI) cluster of Debian machines at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich.

Martin is also a developer of the Zope, Plone, and Ubuntu projects. He lives in Munich, Germany.

About the contributors

Document Actions

The following is a list of people who have helped make this book possible. Much of my gratitude goes to every single one of them. If you feel like you should be on this list as well, please forgive me for forgetting you and drop me a line.

Main proof-readers

  • Hanspeter Kunz
  • Davor Ocelic
  • Ian Travis
  • Franz Mayer

Secondary proof-readers

  • Gerfried Fuchs
  • Don Armstrong
  • Lorrin Nelson
  • Martin Michlmayr
  • Sean Finney
  • Stephan Beal

Content advisors

  • Goswin von Brederlow
  • Jeroen van Wolffelaar
  • Thomas Hood
  • Marco d'Itri
  • Joey Hess
  • Roland Mas
  • Frans Pop
  • Christian Perrier
  • Andres Salomon
  • Martin Michlmayr
  • Joshua M. Kwan
  • Colin Watson
  • Adeodato Simo
  • Manoj Srivastava
  • Branden Robinson
  • Steve Langasek
  • Andreas Barth
  • Peter Palfrader
  • Jaldhar Harshad Vyas
  • Wouter Verhelst
  • Javier Candeira
  • Thiemo Seufert
  • Matt Taggart
  • Junichi Uekawa
  • Thomas Lange
  • Peter Grandi
  • Matthias Klose
  • Norbert Tretkowski
  • Piotr Roszatycki
  • Gerfried Fuchs
  • Karsten M. Self
  • Lars Wirzenius
  • Helen Faulkner
  • Benjamin Mako Hill
  • Klaus Knopper
  • Pierre Morel
  • Warren Woodford
  • David Kammerer
  • Dirk Eddenbuettel
  • Many other regulars of the #debian-devel/ IRC channel
  • The NetBSD team
  • The Gentoo developers
  • Raphaël Hertzog
  • Roland Mas
  • Kenshi Muto
  • Junichi Uekawa


  • Ute Hertzog (German)
  • Raphaël Hertzog and Roland Mas (French)
  • Kenshi Muto and Junichi Uekawa (Japanese)


Moral (and other) support

About the publisher

Document Actions

Open Source Press specialises in high-quality reference books on concepts, products, and techniques from the domain of open-source software and related projects. The publisher is based in Munich, Germany.

More information about Open Source Press is available from their official (German) website: If German isn't among your fluent languages, simply fill out the contact form in English!

About the site

Document Actions

This site has been developed with Plone 2.0.5 and Zope 2.7.5. The Apache2 webserver sits between the 'Net and the Zope server, and all three run on a Debian sarge system. Site credits are on a separate page.

Do come back in a while when I have had a chance to provide more details about the making of this site. In a nutshell: as a moderately experienced Plone programmer, it took me a good two days to get this site to where it is now. My main principles have been:

  • 100% standards compliance.
  • minimal changes to the Plone defaults.
  • Do everything (almost) in a product, not through the web.
  • targeted for easy migration to Plone 2.1 and Zope 2.8.
  • logical and usable navigation and structure.

If you have any suggestions, comments, or questions, I would be glad to answer them.


In addition to the folks behind the software this site and web server uses (please refer to the site credits for more information), I have many people to thank for helping me with this web site:

Web page support

  • The entire Plone team and faithful followers, in particular:
    • Alexander Limi
    • Helge Tesdal
    • Christian Heimes
    • Leonard Norrgard
    • Geir Bækholt
  • Some of the visitors of the #plone/ IRC channel, in particular:
    • Rocky Burt
    • Kurt Bendl
    • Matt Lee
    • Floyd M. May
  • Some of the visitors of the #css/ IRC channel, in particular:
    • Roman Rudenko
  • The readers of the mailing list, in particular:
    • Ingo Chao
    • Gunlaug Sørtun
    • Philippe Wittenbergh
  • The folks behind the software this site and web server uses. Please refer to the site credits for more information.

Web page advisors

  • Hanspeter Kunz
  • Adrian von Bidder
  • Nathan Labhart
  • David Andel
  • Stephan Beal
  • Andreas John



Andreas John (CTO, net-lab GmbH): I'm gobsmacked. The whole Debian System in one definitive guide. I recommend it warmly to all experienced administrators.


Powered by Plone

This site conforms to the following standards: