Linux Distributions that Use the Debian Package Manager by Default

Linux Distributions that Use the Debian Package Manager by Default


3 min read

Linux comes in many different distributions or "distros" - each with its own sets of features, advantages, and package managers. When it comes to package managers, one of the most common is the Debian package manager (dpkg). Out of the box, Debian and Ubuntu both utilize dpkg by default to install, update, configure, and manage software packages.

An Overview of Debian and Ubuntu

Debian is one of the oldest and most influential Linux distributions still in active development today. First released in 1993, it prioritizes stability, security, and user freedom. Debian strictly adheres to the Linux Filesystem Hierarchy Standard (FHS) and only distributes entirely free and open-source software.

Ubuntu sprang forth as a Debian-derived distro in 2004, focusing more on usability and frequent release cycles rather than only stability like its parent OS. Canonical Ltd. and the Ubuntu community develop Ubuntu cooperatively. It dominates the Linux desktop and cloud computing markets.

Both Debian and Ubuntu:

  • Are open-source operating systems built on top of the Linux kernel

  • Adhere to Linux Standards like FHS to maintain compatibility

  • Utilize the dpkg package manager and APT framework by default

  • Have access to the comprehensive Debian software repositories

  • Are highly customizable and extensible systems

In short - Debian prides itself on being the universal base distro while Ubuntu aims to bring Linux to human beings. But their shared roots are undeniable.

Debian Package Manager - dpkg

The dpkg package manager provides the baseline functionality for installing, removing, and managing deb packages in Debian-based distros. But by itself, it lacks some convenient features for accessing, upgrading, and configuring software sources easily.

That is why most Debian distributions utilize it in combination with:

  • APT - the Advanced Package Tool Framework

  • APT frontends - higher level package managers like apt-get and apt

APT handles tasks like:

  • Retrieving packages from remote repositories

  • Resolving software dependencies

  • Downloading and authenticating packages

  • Seamlessly using dpkg in the background

This gives users an easy way to install and update packages without worrying about dependencies or sources. The apt package manager serves as the high-level frontend most Ubuntu users are familiar with today.

So in summary - Debian and Ubuntu both use dpkg combined with APT, making software management easy and versatile. The Debian repositories contain over 60,000 packages of free and open-source software with validated origins - perfect for securely customizing your Linux installation to your needs.

Trying APT and dpkg on Debian or Ubuntu

If you're new to Linux, firing up a Debian or Ubuntu live environment is a great way to test drive dpkg and APT functionality. Follow these steps to attempt installing or removing a test package from the command line:

  1. Download an ISO image of Debian or Ubuntu and create bootable installation media with Rufus

  2. Boot your computer from the installation media to launch the "Try Debian/Ubuntu" live session

  3. Open the terminal emulator and run apt update to refresh your package source index

  4. Install a test package like nginx with apt install nginx

  5. Verify successful installation with dpkg -l nginx

  6. Optionally remove the test package with apt remove nginx

This will let you interact with dpkg and APT hands-on without making permanent changes to your system right away. Feel free to repeat the process of installing and removing other software packages from the vast Debian repositories.


Debian and Ubuntu offer new and experienced Linux users alike a robust way to manage free software. Their use of the dpkg package manager combined with the APT framework gives the power of extreme customization. Follow the same reliable package management practices utilized by sysadmins across countless servers and desktops. Take Debian or Ubuntu for a test drive today!