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Debian GNU/Linux Reference Guide
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2.3.4 Upgrading a running system

The kernel (filesystem) in Debian systems supports replacing files even while they're being used. When packages are upgraded any services provided by those packages are restarted if they are configured to run in the current runlevel. The Debian system does not require use of the single-user mode to upgrade a running system.

Debian GNU/Linux Reference Guide
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