I've used Debian's Raspberry Pi image builder to create arm64 image, but the problem is it's too barebones. Are there any metapackages that installs useful tools, equivalent to Ubuntu's ubuntu-minimal and ubuntu-server?

Blind search on packages.debian.org proved to be futile.

  • Why not simply duplicate most of the package list for the 2 that you reference? You can create your own deb file that has nothing but dependencies using equivs - unix.stackexchange.com/questions/318117/…
    – ivanivan
    Jun 3, 2018 at 14:12
  • apt-cache search metapackage to list available metapackages
    – michfuer
    Dec 17, 2018 at 16:44

2 Answers 2


There are quite a few meta-packages in Debian; whether or not any one of them is appropriate will depend on your exact requirements. Start by looking at the packages produced by tasksel; those are the meta-packages used by the Debian installer. Most of them are language-related, or desktop-related, but there are a few server-related packages too (task-print-server, task-ssh-server, and task-web-server). Each tasksel package corresponds to an entry in the installer, so any package set which can be installed using the installer can also be obtained by installing tasksel packages (or using tasksel itself).

The “base” Debian installation is determined by package priorities and the “essential” flag rather than a meta-package (see the definition in Debian Policy). You’ll always have all essential packages, and you should always have all packages with priority “required”. In your particular case the contents of your image will be determined by the options given to debootstrap; see its documentation for details. If you don’t specify a --variant, you’ll get a base Debian install, the same as you’d obtain from the installer if you didn’t select any additional packages.

Based on your comments, I take it what you’re really looking for is to replicate the set of packages which end up installed by default. A default installation includes more packages than the base system; it also includes what’s known as the standard package set, i.e. all packages with standard “priority”. This includes packages such as bash-completion, file, the Debian documentation, vim-tiny... There is no corresponding meta-package; to install these packages after debootstrap, install tasksel and run tasksel install standard.

  • Other than language packs, and the -server packs you mention, there's only -web-server. I just want to know what packages a regular non-GUI Debian installs, why is that so difficult?
    – Oxwivi
    Jun 4, 2018 at 18:33
  • It’s not difficult, run debootstrap with no --variant (as done in the Raspberry Pi image) and you’ll get a base Debian install. Jun 4, 2018 at 18:48
  • The reason for this question, besides minor inconveniences like bash-autocomplete, is it can't verify HTTPS certificates from wget URLs, and scripts that run on regular Debian server installation without intervention requires me to manually install dependencies that are obviously present on servers.
    – Oxwivi
    Jun 6, 2018 at 9:24
  • You asked whether there’s a “base” Debian metapackage, which is what I tried to address here. Perhaps you should ask another question describing what you’re really after; that would likely produce answers which are more immediately useful for you. Jun 6, 2018 at 9:59
  • What do you mean? Are you suggesting those packages are not part of the "base" Debian despite being installed without user intervention?
    – Oxwivi
    Jun 6, 2018 at 16:47

Debian has pretty good package list web pages at packages.debian.org, including lists of metapackages. For example, here is the metapackage list for Debian 9.

You should also check out the task metapackages, defined as sets of packages for specific server roles or GUI setups for specific languages.

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