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Things to do after installing Debian 8 “jessie”

Keep Calm and Install Debian Jessie


In this guide, we are going to see the list of top/important things to do after installing Debian Jessie.

One of the first things to do is to update the sources and then grant sudo access to the default user so that we don’t need to switch user as root to perform operations that require root access. Granting sudo access to users on Home PC’s is ok but granting sudo access to users in an office environment is not recommended.


Update The Source List

Note: I would like to let you know that in this guide, we are going to install software from the “contrib” and “non-free” repositories too.

Also we are going to add “contrib” & “non-freerepositories that are not 100% FOSS as per the Debian Free Software Guidelines.

  • contrib” – repositories include packages which do comply with the DFSG, but may fail other requirements. For instance, they may depend on packages which are in non-free or requires such for building them.
  • non-free” – repositories include packages which do not comply with the DFSG

If you want to use a installation that is 100% FOSS as per the Debian Free Software Guidelines then just don’t add “contrib” & “non-free” to the source list.


Note: security updates for contrib & nonfree repos are “not” handled by the Debian Security Team.

Q: How is security handled for contrib and non-free?

A: The short answer is: it’s not. Contrib and non-free aren’t official parts of the Debian Distribution and are not released, and thus not supported by the security team. Some non-free packages are distributed without source or without a license allowing the distribution of modified versions. In those cases no security fixes can be made at all. If it is possible to fix the problem, and the package maintainer or someone else provides correct updated packages, then the security team will generally process them and release an advisory.


Now lets begin. Open terminal & run the following commands,
Enter the root password


Now open the sources.list file by running the following command
nano /etc/apt/sources.list

You’ll find something like

deb jessie main
deb-src jessie main

deb jessie/updates main
deb-src jessie/updates main

Before editing the file, you should choose a mirror that is closest to you for the fastest downloads. Check the list of mirrors in this link,


Now we have to add “contrib non-free” after main.

Also I’m disabling the source packages by commenting the source package repo. If you want to install the source packages also, then remove the # in front of the source repo.


Example of a jessie repo

deb jessie main contrib non-free
#deb-src jessie main contrib non-free

deb jessie/updates main contrib non-free
#deb-src jessie/updates main contrib non-free


For pure testing repo, just replace “jessie” with “testing” and add “contrib non-free” after main.

Example of a pure testing repo

deb testing main contrib non-free
#deb-src testing main contrib non-free

deb testing/updates main contrib non-free
#deb-src testing/updates main contrib non-free

Now save & close the file.


Note: Security updates for “testing” repository are “not” handled by the Debian Security Team.

Q: How is security handled for testing?

A: Security for testing benefits from the security efforts of the entire project for unstable. However, there is a minimum two-day migration delay, and sometimes security fixes can be held up by transitions. The Security Team helps to move along those transitions holding back important security uploads, but this is not always possible and delays may occur. Especially in the months after a new stable release, when many new versions are uploaded to unstable, security fixes for testing may lag behind. If you want to have a secure (and stable) server you are strongly encouraged to stay with stable.


In addition to that, if you want to use “testing” repo., then please check the best practises for testing users listed in the Debian Wiki.


Now lets update to fetch the list of packages from the newly added contrib & non-free repositories.
apt-get update


Grant Sudo Access (Optional)

If you don’t want to give sudo access to the users then you should skip these steps.
apt-get install sudo
usermod -a -G sudo <username>

Replace <username> with your username to which you want to grant sudo access.

Now logout & login to get sudo access to those users.



Package Manager

Now we are going to install the following packages,

  • synaptic package manager – graphical package management tool which enables you to install, upgrade and remove software packages in a user friendly way.
  • apt-xapian-index – maintenance and search tools for a Xapian index of Debian packages
  • gdebi – simple tool to install deb packages
  • gksu – graphical frontend for su

sudo apt-get install synaptic apt-xapian-index gdebi gksu



Firmware Package

sudo apt-get install firmware-linux



CPU Firmware

sudo apt-get install amd64-microcode

Intel CPU
sudo apt-get install intel-microcode



Display Drivers

First lets make sure that we install the proper display drivers. There is no one step solution for this, so you have to check the following links and install the appropriate drivers.

After installing the display drivers, make sure to reboot the system and check that the display driver is working properly before proceeding to the next step.



Extra Fonts

sudo apt-get install ttf-freefont ttf-mscorefonts-installer ttf-bitstream-vera ttf-dejavu ttf-liberation



Flash Plugin

Enable flash support for Iceweasel.
sudo apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree



Pepperflash Plugin

Enable flash support for Chromium browser. Skip this step if you plan on installing Google Chrome.
sudo apt-get install pepperflashplugin-nonfree



Icedtea Plugin

IcedTeaPlugin is a web browser plugin to execute Java applets.
sudo apt-get install icedtea-plugin




This is what I use on my system. You might want to change these as per your preference.

  • file-roller : Archive manager
  • evince : PDF reader
  • parcellite : Clipboard manager
  • qalculate : Calculator
  • clementie : Audio player
  • vlc : Video player
  • bleachbit : System cleaner
  • gimp : Image editor
  • shotwell : To import pictures from digital camera
  • gparted : Partition Manager
  • gnome-disk-utility : Disk Utility
  • libreoffice-writer : Document editor
  • libreoffice-calc : Spreadsheet editor
  • libreoffice-impress : Presentation editor
  • chromium : Open source web browser

sudo apt-get install file-roller evince parcellite qalculate clementine vlc bleachbit gimp shotwell gparted gnome-disk-utility libreoffice-writer libreoffice-calc libreoffice-impress chromium




sudo apt-get install ufw


Add the default deny rule and we are good to go with a basic firewall.
sudo ufw default deny


The following single command is enough to enable the firewall and add it to startup.
sudo ufw enable


You can check the status by running the following commands
sudo ufw status
sudo ufw status verbose


If you want a gui to manage it then you may install gufw.
sudo apt-get install gufw




Volume Control: (Optional, Only for Xfce users)

You may skip this step if you want to stick with the the default Xfce mixer.
sudo apt-get install pavucontrol


Go to “applications -> settings -> settings editor“, select “xfce4-panel” on the left hand side list and then scroll & search for “xfce4-mixer”. Edit it and replace “xfce4-mixer” with “pavucontrol” (refer screenshots).

Xfce4 Settings Editor


Xfce4 Settings Editor


Xfce4 Pavucontrol


Now right click on the audio icon in the panel, select “Run Audio Mixer” and then choose the pulse audio settings that you want to use (refer screenshot).



GUI to manage network connections

(Optional / Only for Netinstall)

network-manager-gnome – This network manager supports VPN and mobile broadband in addition to wired & wireless wifi network connections.

sudo apt-get install network-manager-gnome


You can refer the Debian wiki,, for information on setting up wifi.


Now we have to remove the list of network references in the network interfaces file. But we are going to disable it by commenting the lines rather than removing it. To do that, open the interfaces file and comment Comment every line except the 2 lines listed after the line that says “# The loopback network interface”.
sudo nano /etc/network/interfaces


This is how my /etc/network/interfaces file look like after commenting the primary network interface (to disable it) except the loopback interface.

# This file describes the network interfaces available on your system
# and how to activate them. For more information, see interfaces(5).

# The loopback network interface
auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

# The primary network interface
# allow-hotplug eth0
# iface eth0 inet dhcp


Now reboot the system.



Multimedia codecs

At this point of time, Debian is using the “libav-tools” package instead of ffmpeg in Jessie/Testing so we are going to stick with the default packages and install only some extra packages.
sudo apt-get install libavcodec-extra
sudo apt-get install gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad gstreamer0.10-fluendo-mp3 gstreamer0.10-pulseaudio
sudo apt-get install libgstreamer-perl libgstreamer-interfaces-perl



Extra screensavers (Optional)

If you are a fan of the matrix screensaver like me, then you might want to install it.
sudo apt-get install xscreensaver-gl



Multimedia codecs (Optional using repo)

If you want to install w32codecs and libdvdcss2 (required for the decryption of CSS protected-DVD), then you need to add 3rd party repository to do that. It involves apt pinning using preferences file and you can find it in this article, Apt Pinning Debian Multimedia Using Preferences.


20 responses to “Things to do after installing Debian 8 “jessie”

  1. Chris March 11, 2014 at 07:52

    Actually mencoder isn’t available in jessie.

  2. syzygy March 28, 2014 at 23:19

    Does “sudo apt-get install xscreensaver-gl” not work with xfce? The default screensaver gui says the new screensavers are not installed…

  3. Dick April 17, 2014 at 06:29

    Thanks very much for these practical, detailed guides.

    I notice you say in the “About” section of your blog that, “I’m still using Xubuntu and I don’t think ill be switching to any other desktop environment or distro anytime soon.”

    Is this still the case? The reason I ask is that it’s obvious from these tutorials that you’ve put a lot of thought into what a custom-made Debian distribution with Xfce DE should be. Given that you have made that effort, are there still advantages to using Xubuntu over your custom Debian build?

    I thought it was interesting that Jesse Smith, who writes a weekly review in DistroWatch (and therefore has a lot of experience with different distros) said in a recent column (see “Best of the Breed,” DistroWatch Weekly, 20 January 2014) that he also likes Ubuntu-related distros, Mint and Kubuntu, for his personal use,

    “I use a different Linux distribution on one of my home machines every week. Most of them march into my life and back out again without a lot of complaints or fanfare. That being said, there are a few which have, of late, performed very well for me. Linux Mint has consistently worked beautifully for me and I highly recommend it to most people. The Kubuntu distribution has been, perhaps, my personal favourite for the past two years.”

    What kind of ‘secret sauce’ does Ubuntu add that makes it and its relatives so attractive to those who have a broad exposure to other distros?

    • LinuxPanda April 18, 2014 at 02:50

      Hey, first of all, thank you very much for the big comment. 🙂

      I wrote this guide (and the other Debian net install & font rendering guide) because when I searched the internet for the same, there were no proper guides for any of those. So I took some time, did some research and wrote those guides.

      The one major thing that made me hang on with the *buntu wagon is the font rendering. But with infinality fonts, I’m able to get the same (or even better) font rendering with any distro, be it a Debian/Arch/Fedora based.

      Debian is rock solid and its the distro that I like the most but some software/packages take too long for them to be accepted even into testing repositories. Debian is the best for users who prefer stability over other things. Xubuntu is still a rock solid distro that just works and yes I like Linux Mint too but Debian is comparatively stable & fast, especially when you make a customized build using net install.

      Actually I forgot to update that “My Linux Story” page in the “About” section. I’m currently using using “Debian unstable” as the main OS (and I have updated the “My Linux Story” page, thanks to you).

      • Dick April 18, 2014 at 11:01

        Thanks for that update.

        I understand how fonts or a distro’s attachment to Linux would make a difference. And certainly neither Debian testing nor Xubuntu are bleeding edge distros. But setting those issues aside, how would you evaluate Xubuntu versus your custom Debian build using Xfce?

        You used Debian testing, which as I understand it is what Ubuntu/Xubuntu is based off of. So would a Debian build based off your guide be more stable than Xubuntu?

        In other words, the Ubuntu/Xubuntu processing adds considerable user-friendliness and integration of the core packages to the Debian testing base. {In the process, it would also add bloat which may slow the system down.) But does that processing/integration also add stability?

        For example, if you take the 14.04 version of Xubuntu, which should be out shortly, and add and delete packages and do some configuring to tailor the setup in the way you have done with your Debian guides, how different would the result be from your Debian customization? Would it just be a matter of some cosmetic features and using the Ubuntu repositories (with maybe a bit of a hit to performance)? Or is there a more substantial difference that is the result of all the work that the Ubuntu and Xubuntu developers do?

      • LinuxPanda April 24, 2014 at 08:06

        Sorry for the delayed reply.

        From my experience, Debian & distros that are directly based on Debian are more stable than Ubuntu & its variants.

        If you take any OS and delete packages (which might delete packages that other packages depened upon) then you may break the installation. In my personal experience, trimming down a distro does not work the way as it should.

        So intead of trimming down an OS, you should use build something from scratch using a minimal ISO and customize it the way you want.

        If you are more concerned about stability and don’t want to build from scratch, then you may try

        • Crunchbang Linux – Based on Debian testing & Openbox
        • SolydXK – Based on debian testing & KDE/Xfce

        As per this article,, there is no much difference in performance between Ubuntu 14.04 & Debian Jessie but in my personal experience I find Debian to be more responsive & faster than Ubuntu.

        Also Ubuntu is based on Debian unstable (Yes, unstable repo) and not Debian testing as most people say so.

        And in my previous reply, I’ve mentioned that I’m using Manjaro Linux but actually “I was testing Manjaro Linux” (and I’ve updated my previous comment). I’m actually using “Debian unstable” as the main OS.

  4. Rob M June 15, 2014 at 08:39

    Best article I’ve ever seen for this, extremely helpful 🙂

  5. Eric Palmer (@E_L_P) June 17, 2014 at 10:23

    This is very good. I have also found from time to time that one must usermod lp, lpadmin (username) so the user can perform proper printer management (just depends sometimes)

  6. Jiříslav August 20, 2014 at 16:47

    Multimedia codecs are now available with apt-get install libavcodec-extra-55 instead of apt-get install libavcodec-extra-54 ..

  7. djk August 27, 2014 at 18:10

    When you add user to sudo – usermod -a -G sudo – you then reboot the entire system. Shouldn’t logging off, back on be enough to make you active in the group?

    If your only use for gnome-disk-utility is formating pen drives… why not use gparted, since you install if for other practical reasons already.

    Thanks for all the work and info!

    • LinuxPanda August 29, 2014 at 23:34

      Thanks for the info. I have updated the article.

      And gnome disks because it has some more features like S.M.A.R.T self test, benchmark etc. 🙂

  8. Alok October 22, 2014 at 22:42

    really very good article. i wanted to use debian for a long time but the look was always dissatisfy me. but after ur article i started liking debian unstable.

  9. Piers November 25, 2015 at 23:15


    The link is not loading any more. I’ve been trying for some time to retrieve this webpage.

    Is there any chance you could republish this page?

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