The Debian TemplateVM

The Debian TemplateVM is an officially supported TemplateVM in Qubes OS. This page is about the standard (or “full”) Debian TemplateVM. For the minimal version, please see the Minimal TemplateVMs page. There is also a Qubes page on the Debian Wiki.


To install a specific Debian TemplateVM that is not currently installed in your system, use the following command in dom0:

$ sudo qubes-dom0-update qubes-template-debian-XX

(Replace XX with the Debian version number of the template you wish to install.)

To reinstall a Debian TemplateVM that is already installed in your system, see How to Reinstall a TemplateVM.

After Installing

After installing a fresh Debian TemplateVM, we recommend performing the following steps:

  1. Update the TemplateVM.

  2. Switch any TemplateBasedVMs that are based on the old TemplateVM to the new one.

  3. If desired, uninstall the old TemplateVM.


Please see Updating software in TemplateVMs.


Please see Upgrading Debian TemplateVMs.

Release-specific notes

This section contains notes about specific Debian releases.

Debian 10

Debian 10 (buster) - minimal:

[user@dom0 ~]$ sudo qubes-dom0-update --enablerepo=qubes-templates-itl qubes-template-debian-10-minimal

Debian 10 (buster) - stable:

[user@dom0 ~]$ sudo qubes-dom0-update --enablerepo=qubes-templates-itl qubes-template-debian-10

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.

Package installation errors in Qubes 4.0

By default, templates in 4.0 only have a loopback interface.

Some packages will throw an error on installation in this situation. For example, Samba expects to be configured using a network interface post installation.

One solution is to add a dummy interface to allow the package to install correctly:

ip link add d0 type dummy
ip addr add dev d0
ip link set d0 up