During the installation, there is a choice to let you choose which desktop and whether or not install the standard system utilities. See here for the screen shot and the packages included.

enter image description here Personally I don't like to install many packages I don't need, so I ask here what is the consequences of not installing these utilities. Please in plain language what functionality I will lose or inconvenience I will get.


4 Answers 4


I often install servers without "Standard system utilities" and then only install what I need later. It works just fine (even with them deselected in tasksel, Debian will still install required packages like dpkg, apt-get etc.) and thus result in fully functional system.

(Note: I primarily install it that way as I don't want nfs-common and its depended rpcbind daemon, nor python required by reportbug script and stuff like that)

You can alway run tasksel again later and add those if you want. (and compare dpkg -l ouputs before and after to see what exactly are you missing)

  • Do you usually remove a lot of package after the installation? For example, libreoffice, evienceg,and games etc.. Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 14:03
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    @buzhidao For servers (and desktops, but I don't run usual desktop environments anyway), I absolutely never install them at all in the first place (ie. I deselect everything intasksel, and put --no-install-recommends as default) and then build up from there. And after upgrades, I do go again and uninstall newly installed junk I don't want. It actually also saves time in the long run, as less packages installed means less things to break on next upgrade and require manual intervention, and not just less security issues (primary concern) Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 14:21
  • But what exactly is it? Stuff like LibreOffice and Rhytmbox (like Ubuntu), or some more basic stuff like a text editor?
    – codepleb
    Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 18:24
  • Definitely more basic stuff like syslog, wget, nfs-common, rpcbind etc. For obtaining complete list see wiki.debian.org/tasksel#A.22standard.22_task . Note that you obviously won't get LibreOffice nor other GUI stuff including X server unless you install task with some desktop enviroment / window manager. Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 20:31

What's the consequences that I don't install the standard system utilities of debian?


Without installing the standard system utilities , you will get a working operating system but you will need most of the utilities later.

I have tested debian in a Virtualbox offline install without a GUI and without standard system utilities. The output of apt list --installed > installed.txt is here.

From the installed OS i have configured apt because it is not fully working only the security update is enabled:

deb http://security.debian.org/ jessie/updates main
deb-src http://security.debian.org/ jessie/updates main

then i have installed a GUI , here are the two steps that I execute:

1) To configure my sources.list i have comment out the following lines:

deb http://ftp.fr.debian.org/debian/ jessie/updates main
deb http://ftp.fr.debian.org/debian/ jessie/updates main

Then adding:

deb http://ftp.fr.debian.org/debian/ jessie main
deb-src http://ftp.fr.debian.org/debian/ jessie main

2) Runing tasksel to install the Gui: i mounted the debian.iso to save the bandwidth , connecting to the internet then installing my desktop .

Updating the package and everything work fine.

NB the standard system utilities isn't available" after runing tasksel on the installed system.

What does the "standard system" task include?

This task is available only during the installation, it contains the following packages:

# tasksel --task-packages standard

It corresponds to the following command:

aptitude search ~pstandard ~prequired ~pimportant -F%p

The following priority levels are recognized by the Debian package management tools.


Packages which are necessary for the proper functioning of the system (usually, this means that dpkg functionality depends on these packages). Removing a required package may cause your system to become totally broken and you may not even be able to use dpkg to put things back, so only do so if you know what you are doing. Systems with only the required packages are probably unusable, but they do have enough functionality to allow the sysadmin to boot and install more software.


Important programs, including those which one would expect to find on any Unix-like system. If the expectation is that an experienced Unix person who found it missing would say "What on earth is going on, where is foo?", it must be an important package.[6] Other packages without which the system will not run well or be usable must also have priority important. This does not include Emacs, the X Window System, TeX or any other large applications. The important packages are just a bare minimum of commonly-expected and necessary tools.


These packages provide a reasonably small but not too limited character-mode system. This is what will be installed by default if the user doesn't select anything else. It doesn't include many large applications.

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    FWIW, if you take a copy of tasksel (eg put it in /tmp) and modify one line (line 244 on Jessie) reading !package_installed($package)) { and make it read something like !package_installed("foooooooo$package")) { then you can do /tmp/tasksel --task-packages standard to get a complete list of packages. Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 10:39
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    Why Debian not let user to choose whether to install games or evince or libreoffice, these program is less important than standard utilities? Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 10:51
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    @GAD3R No, you won't get a broken system. I do it all the time, and nothing breaks. You might miss some functionality by default (like mounting remote NFS filesystems) if you don't install wanted packages later, but that is the point, right? Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 15:04
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    Hi @GAD3R. Ok, but the answer is somewhat longer than necessary, and a bit confusing. For example, what is the relevance of "From the installed OS i have configured apt because it is not fully working then i have installed a GUI"? Also what is (1) and (2) for? Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 0:40
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    Note that you can still access that option post-install by using the tasksel --new-install.
    – jlh
    Commented Dec 24, 2018 at 20:14

According to csmojo article standard system utilities consists of following packages on Debian 8 (jessie):

apt-listchanges, lsof, mlocate, w3m, at, libswitch-perl, xz-utils, telnet, dc, bsd-mailx, file, exim4-config, m4, bc, dnsutils, exim4, python2.7, openssh-client, aptitude, bash-completion, python, host, install-info, bzip2, reportbug, krb5-locales, bind9-host, time, info, liblockfile-bin, whois, aptitude-common, patch, ncurses-term, mutt, mime-support, exim4-daemon-light, ftp, nfs-common, python-reportbug, rpcbind, texinfo, python-minimal, procmail, libclass-isa-perl, python-apt, python-support, exim4-base, debian-faq, doc-debian

  • This is the list from the article that OP linked to, yes. But what's the answer to the question?
    – Jeff Schaller
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 14:58
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    Note that at, bc, file, m4, patch and time are mandatory POSIX utilities (I see pax, another mandatory POSIX utility is not listed). Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 15:24
  • @JeffSchaller oic, I have missed the link in the original post. Functionality lost is exactly functionality provided by listed packages. For inconvenience caused – well, the shell experience will be close to one provided by cmd.exe.
    – Mr. Tao
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 17:57
  • Probably the only one I'd use directly is ssh. I'm going to skip this then disable optional and required packages and install on demand. Thanks!
    – Rolf
    Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 18:34

The best answer is in a comment by jlh which mentions you can always add it later:

Note that you can still access that option post-install by using the tasksel --new-install.

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