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Here's where we'll document the installation of miscellaneous small software packages.

Note that some of these packages may get installed during the installation of the OS, depending on the revision and the options selected. Packages that we've seen get installed include mailx, lsof, less, w3m, telnet, bc, file, nano, and at.


The chkconfig command is used to set up the soft links in /etc/rc*.d directories, based on special comments in the startup scripts. The Debian update-rc.d command does the same thing as chkconfig, but chkconfig is more standard across various distributions.

sudo apt-get install chkconfig

We prefer to use the service command, which provides a simple way to stop and start services. It's the same as running the startup scripts in /etc/init.d manually, but with a nicer interface (and better command-line completion). Using service is now the preferred way to start and stop services in most Linux distros, including RHEL. Debian Squeeze (6.0) includes the service command in the sysvinit-utils package. In previous versions, the service command was in the insserv package.

sudo apt-get install sysvinit-utils

The lsb-release package (including the lsb_release command) lets scripts determine which version of which distro they're running on.

sudo apt-get install lsb-release

The locate program is great for finding files on the system, without find having to search through a bunch of directories. Debian 5.0 and newer prefers use of the mlocate variant.

sudo apt-get install mlocate
sudo /etc/cron.daily/mlocate &

This resolves some issues with Perl complaining about LC_ALL/LANG/LANGUAGE when using en_US.UTF-8 encoding.

sudo apt-get install locales locales-all

This program provides a TUI-based utility to configure init files for various runlevels.

sudo apt-get install sysv-rc-conf

This package is used by several web and email packages (Apache and PINE).

sudo apt-get install mime-support

We'll need OpenSSL and certificate management packages for web and email later (Apache and Postfix).

sudo apt-get install openssl ssl-cert ca-certificates

The psmisc package includes some useful tools, including pstree, killall, and fuser.

sudo apt-get install psmisc

The lsof program list files (and sockets) that are open, and which processes are using them.

sudo apt-get install lsof

The htop program is an enhanced version of top.

sudo apt-get install htop

The strace program allows you to trace all the system calls that a program calls. The ltrace program is similar, but traces library calls.

sudo apt-get install strace ltrace

The iotop program allows you to monitor I/O with an interface similar to top.

sudo apt-get install iotop

The sysstat package includes sar, iostat, and mpstat, programs used to more closely monitor system performance. Note that I've not yet enabled sa1 to run from cron; I'll need to edit /etc/default/sysstat to enable that.

sudo apt-get install sysstat

The checkinstall command lets you easily install packages from sources, and keeps the installation info in the packaging system, so that it can be easily uninstalled. To use it, you generally just build the software then run sudo checkinstall make install.

#sudo apt-get install checkinstall # Not installed in Squeeze, due to too many dependencies.

mail command line utility

The mail command line utility is not installed by default, causing several scripts that rely on it to fail. Previously, we used the mailx variant, which is in the bsd-mailx package in Debian Squeeze (6.0). For Debian Squeeze, we chose to go with the GNU mailutils package instead. It works with a wider range of mail sources, including Maildir folders, and even IMAP. The package also includes the movemail command and a sieve client for configuring mail filters over the SIEVE protocol.

NOTE: Wait until after installing Postfix to install this; otherwise, it will force exim4 to be installed.

sudo apt-get install mailutils

Text Editors and Readers

Everyone has their preferred text editor. For servers, we ensure that nano and vim are available.

sudo apt-get install nano
sudo apt-get install vim vim-doc
sudo apt-get install less
sudo apt-get install pinfo

Console Tools

Midnight Commander is a TUI-based file manager. It comes in handy on occasion.

sudo apt-get install mc

Packaging and Compression

sudo apt-get install bzip2
sudo apt-get install unzip zip
sudo apt-get install curl
sudo apt-get install links
sudo apt-get install lynx-cur  # Newer release of lynx
sudo apt-get install ncftp
sudo apt-get install lftp
sudo apt-get install rsync
sudo apt-get install tidy tidy-doc
sudo apt-get install elinks elinks-doc
sudo apt-get install w3m

Network Tools

Tcpdump is a good tool for monitoring packets going across the wire. It's helpful when troubleshooting network protocol issues.

sudo apt-get install tcpdump

Telnet is no longer good for connecting to remote systems to get shell access. (Always use SSH for remote shell access.) However, it's good for connecting to other ports to test network connectivity. (For example, it's the easiest way to test low-level SMTP functionality.)

sudo apt-get install telnet

The mtr program is an enhanced version of traceroute, with some additional features. We want the "tiny" variant, which does not require X11.

sudo apt-get install mtr-tiny

ZModem isn't used much any more, but it can be used to send files across an existing SSH (or any other pty) connection. The lrzsz package supports ZModem – use the rz command to receive a file. KDE's Konsole provides good ZModem upload support.

sudo apt-get install lrzsz

Development Tools

NOTE: There are a ton of -dev packages that we could install. Unless we find a development "super-package", we'll have to install them as-needed.

sudo apt-get install build-essential
sudo apt-get install make autoconf automake autoconf-doc libtool libtool-doc # NOTE: make-doc was suggested by make, but does not exist.
sudo apt-get install flex bison m4 # NOTE: bison-doc was suggested by bison, but does not exist.
sudo apt-get install diff diff-doc patch
sudo apt-get install gnu-standards
sudo apt-get install manpages-dev
sudo apt-get install linux-kernel-headers
sudo apt-get install binutils-doc glibc-doc # NOTE: gcc-doc and cpp-doc were suggested by build-essential, but do not exist.
sudo apt-get install libc6-dev
sudo apt-get install gdb # NOTE: gdb-doc was suggested by gdb, but does not exist.

Revision Control

These are various source code management (SCM) packages.

sudo apt-get install cvs
sudo apt-get install subversion subversion-tools
sudo sed -e 's/^# global-ignores.*$/global-ignores = *.o *.lo *.la #*# .*.rej *.rej .*~ *~ .#* .DS_Store/' \
    -i /etc/subversion/config
sudo apt-get install git-core git-doc git-svn


sudo apt-get install perl perl-modules perl-doc


We want to install "headless" JRE, so that we don't need X11 libraries. It'd be nice to have Java 7 in addition to Java 6, but Debian 6 does not have Java 7 packages available. We'd like to install the JDK, but it requires X11 for some reason, so we'll do all our development and compiling on our desktops.

sudo apt-get install openjdk-6-jre-headless openjdk-6-doc
sudo sh -c 'cat > /etc/profile.d/' <<EOF
export JAVA_HOME


Install nearly every shell known to UNIX-kind.

sudo apt-get install ksh
sudo apt-get install tcsh
sudo apt-get install csh
sudo apt-get install zsh zsh-doc


We're going to install a couple email clients, for those who like to read email via a TUI.

sudo apt-get install mutt
sudo apt-get install nmh

Auto-Logout on Idle Timeout

The following is used to force automatic logouts for shells that are not within an X session, for security purposes. This can also be done from the SSH daemon.

sudo sh -c 'cat > /etc/profile.d/' << EOF
# Automatically logout after 30 minutes idle at command prompt (unless in X).
if [ -z "$DISPLAY" ]; then
  readonly TMOUT
  export TMOUT
sudo sh -c 'cat > /etc/profile.d/autologout.csh' << EOF
# Automatically logout after 30 minutes idle at command prompt (unless in X).
if ( ! $?DISPLAY ) then
  set -r autologout=30


sudo apt-get install python


GNU Privacy Guard is a clone of PGP. The command-line utility is called gpg and the package is called gnupg.

sudo apt-get install gnupg


sudo apt-get install doc-base


sudo apt-get install tree

The bc calculator is for doing simple math. (It's recommended to always start it with the -l option.)

sudo apt-get install bc

Deferred execution scheduler to supplement cron.

NOTE: Wait until after installing Postfix to install this; otherwise, it will require exim4 to be installed.

sudo apt-get install at

The ack command is a nice replacement for grep. It does the "right thing" in many ways better than grep – ignores non-text files, backup files, SVN/GIT repositories, etc. For Debian 5.0+ systems, we can simply install the package, but we make a link to make it available as ack.

sudo apt-get install ack-grep
sudo ln -s /usr/bin/ack-grep /usr/local/bin/ack
sudo mkdir -p /usr/local/share/man/man1
sudo ln -s /usr/share/man/man1/ack-grep.1p.gz /usr/local/share/man/man1/ack.1p.gz

Custom Scripts

We've created some custom system administration scripts to make things easier for ourselves. We keep them on GitHub, but we'll download them as a ZIP file for simplicity's sake.

wget -O
sudo install -m 755 sysadmin-master/sbin/* /usr/local/sbin/


  • Enabled sa1 to run from cron; edit /etc/default/sysstat to enable that.
build/misc.txt · Last modified: 2014/09/03 12:05 by Admin