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.
https://qa.debian.org/popcon.php?package=thetoolname 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.
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 email@example.com
You can find past mailing list threads here:
And other #debian mailing lists here: