About this manual
This manual describes the policy requirements for the Debian GNU/Linux distribution. This
includes the structure and contents of the Debian archive and several design issues of the op
erating system, as well as technical requirements that each package must satisfy to be included
in the distribution.
This manual also describes Debian policy as it relates to creating Debian packages. It is not
a tutorial on how to build packages, nor is it exhaustive where it comes to describing the
behavior of the packaging system. Instead, this manual attempts to define the interface to the
package management system that the developers have to be conversant with.
The footnotes present in this manual are merely informative, and are not part of Debian policy
The appendices to this manual are not necessarily normative, either. Please see `Introduction
and scope of these appendices' on page
for more information.
In the normative part of this manual, the words must, should and may, and the adjectives re
quired, recommended and optional, are used to distinguish the significance of the various guide
lines in this policy document. Packages that do not conform to the guidelines denoted by
must (or required) will generally not be considered acceptable for the Debian distribution. Non
conformance with guidelines denoted by should (or recommended) will generally be considered a
bug, but will not necessarily render a package unsuitable for distribution. Guidelines denoted
by may (or optional) are truly optional and adherence is left to the maintainer's discretion.
Informally, the criteria used for inclusion is that the material meet one of the following requirements:
Standard interfaces The material presented represents an interface to the packaging system that is mandated for
use, and is used by, a significant number of packages, and therefore should not be changed without peer
review. Package maintainers can then rely on this interfaces not changing, and the package management
software authors need to ensure compatibility with these interface definitions. (Control file and changelog
file formats are examples.)
Chosen Convention If there are a number of technically viable choices that can be made, but one needs to select
one of these options for inter operability. The version number format is one example.
Please note that these are not mutually exclusive; selected conventions often become parts of standard interfaces.