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So I handed over an old linux box which has Debian Linux. I do'nt know which exact release it is. /etc/debian_version reveals testing/unstable. Based on a rough idea of when the server was put in production first, I guessed at it being an install of "Potato" release. So I updated my /etc/apt/sources.list to read

deb potato main contrib non-free

However when I do

sudo apt-get install apache2-utils

I get a package not found error. I have also tried

apt-get update

To no avail. Any ideas? I'm trying to install apache2-utils to get a hold of the 'ab' utility to test some web server stuff.

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The not so recent Debian Potato does not appear to contain Apache2 at all.

If you want to verify that it is indeed Potato you have installed, take a look inside and compare the version numbers to some of the packages you have installed locally. You can get the locally installed version of a package by running apt-cache policy packagename.

If possible you probably want to reinstall the system to run a more recent and supported version of Debian.

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Yeah I'll take a look at the package list. I even tried apt-cache search for apache, apache2 and httpd; none of them had shown up. – Archit Baweja Sep 30 '11 at 17:28

Might be a good idea just to lay down a new linux system. It would be in a more known state and you'd prevent wasting time trying to fix/patch a system in unknown state.

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True, but right now its running a legacy app written using JSP, Tomcat, Oracle, Apache that I have absolutely no documentation on. So thats why I haven't considered this option yet, till I can migrate the application. Thanks though. – Archit Baweja Sep 30 '11 at 17:31

Is there an /etc/issue file on it? Some linux distros obey that convention, which will provide you with the actual version number. From there you can make a more concrete plan of action.

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You definitively must upgrade your system. Or as others suggest reinstall. The system you probably have is over 11 years old. Debian has very long support cycles, but your system is eight years over maintenance support.

So potato never had apache2 in this ancient years. It contained only Apache in version 1.3 and it took quite a long time until version 2 was included into Debian. The first distribution containing version 2 was sarge; and even this one is six years old.

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If /etc/debian_version states unstable and the machine has been picking up updates then it will be tracking recent updates not something as old as potato. Unstable is a "continuous release" arrangement, more-or-less. Check the version numbers of some known packages, that will give you a better idea. Don't just trust one program/libraries version number though as some may have been installed "by hand" so will not be tracking the standard repositories. If the admins have not been clearing out apt's cache for space reasons that would be a good place to check - it usually live in /var/cache/apt/, so ls /var/cache/apt/archives/ -lhrt should give you a list of packages currently cached ordered by the date they were drawn down from the repository. if you don't find the cache there (rather than finding it there but empty) search the machine for .deb files - the previous server admins may have moved the cache elsewhere.

If you don find the machine is running things as old as packages found in potato then I recommend against trying to upgrade it. Backup all data and configuration and start from a new install.

If it is running unstable I would suggest a reinstall also. Unstable is surprisingly stable in my experience but breakage does sometimes happen and things can sometimes stay broken for a couple of days (in these cases workarounds are usually available in a shorter amount of time, but it is still risky) - so it is not recommended for production use.

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