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(TIP) Trust but Verify: Researching Apps & Tools *before* Installing to ease the move to Linux
by @News, march 14, 2019, 12:09am utc

Here are several steps that admins can take before agreeing to install user-requested applications. A good goal would be to have the users do these things before coming to you...

$ apt-cache search thetoolname will give you a list of related tools, that can be checked for the best fit.

$ apt-cache show thetoolname will give you a blurb about what this particular tool/app is for.

Check the application on Debian's popcon ("popularity contest") to compare how many reported installations there are of the requested tool.

or to directly search for your tool.

For example, for htop (which is a nice, clean-looking, command-line process viewer) popcon yields:


... along with the corresponding maintainer's page:

When installing -- always check over the dependencies. See if they would bring in something you may not want.

$ sudo apt-get install redshift Reading package lists... Done Building dependency tree Reading state information... Done The following additional packages will be installed: geoclue-2.0 The following NEW packages will be installed: geoclue-2.0 redshift 0 upgraded, 2 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded. Need to get 168 kB of archives. After this operation, 801 kB of additional disk space will be used. Do you want to continue? [Y/n]

debsums is another tool for verification of installed package files against MD5 checksums

$ debsums -l *or* --list-missing # list packages which don't have an md5sums file. (It should really come back with nothing.)

$ debsums -c

All of this helps to give you a feel of the general acceptance of the tool in question.

One additional place to ask questions about packages is on the #debian user's email list.

Subscribe by sending an email to:
with a subject of:
Subject: subscribe

You can find past mailing list threads here:

And other #debian mailing lists here:

tags: All users, Tips
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