Debian template(s)

If you would like to use Debian Linux distribution in your qubes, you can install one of the available Debian templates.

Updates for these templates are provided by ITL and are signed by this key:

pub   4096R/47FD92FA 2014-07-27
      Key fingerprint = 2D43 E932 54EE EA7C B31B  6A77 5E58 18AB 47FD 92FA
uid                  Qubes OS Debian Packages Signing Key

The key is already installed when you install (signed) template package. You can also obtain the key from git repository, which is also integrity-protected using signed git tags.


Templates can be installed with the following command:

Debian 7 (wheezy) - obsolete/archive:

[user@dom0 ~]$ sudo qubes-dom0-update qubes-template-debian-7

Debian 8 (jessie) - oldstable:

[user@dom0 ~]$ sudo qubes-dom0-update qubes-template-debian-8

Debian 9 (stretch) - stable:

In Qubes 4.0 -

[user@dom0 ~]$ sudo qubes-dom0-update qubes-template-debian-9

A prebuilt template is not available in Qubes 3.2, but there are two options for achieving a stretch template:

  1. Build an experimental stretch template from source.

  2. Clone a debian-8 template and then modify in the cloned template /etc/apt/sources.list and /etc/apt/sources.list.d/qubes-r3.list to pull from stretch repos rather than jessie repos. Simply replace all instances of “jessie” with “stretch”.

    After that, an apt-get dist-upgrade followed by a reboot should “just work”. Unused packages will have to be removed or else it will conflict with the upgrade.

    Full instructions are on this page


To upgrade your Debian TemplateVM, please consult the guide that corresponds to your situation:

Known issues

Starting services

The Debian way (generally) is to start daemons if they are installed. This means that if you install (say) ssh-server in a template, all the qubes that use that template will run a ssh server when they start. (They will, naturally, all have the same server key.) This may not be what you want.

So be very careful when installing software in Templates - if the daemon spawns outbound connections then there is a serious security risk.

In general, a reasonable approach would be, (using ssh as example):

  • Install the ssh service.
  • systemctl stop ssh
  • systemctl disable ssh
  • systemctl mask ssh
  • Close down template

Now the ssh service will NOT start in qubes based on this template.

Where you DO want the service to run, put this in /rw/config/rc.local:

systemctl unmask ssh
systemctl start ssh

Don’t forget to make the file executable.

Unattended Upgrades

Some users have noticed that on upgrading to Stretch, the unattended-upgrade package is installed.

This package is pulled in as part of a Recommend chain, and can be purged.

The lesson is that you should carefully look at what is being installed to your system, particularly if you run dist-upgrade.


If you want to help in improving the template, feel free to contribute.

More information