2. Binary packages (from old Packaging Manual)¶
See deb(5) and Package control information files.
2.1. Creating package files -
All manipulation of binary package files is done by
the only program that has knowledge of the format. (
dpkg-deb may be
invoked by calling
dpkg will spot that the options
requested are appropriate to
dpkg-deb and invoke that instead with
the same arguments.)
In order to create a binary package, you must make a directory tree
which contains all the files and directories you want to have in the
file system data part of the package. In Debian-format source packages,
this directory is usually either
relative to the top of the package’s source tree.
They should have the locations (relative to the root of the directory tree you’re constructing) ownerships and permissions which you want them to have on the system when they are installed.
With current versions of
dpkg the uid/username and gid/groupname
mappings for the users and groups being used should be the same on the
system where the package is built and the one where it is installed.
You need to add one special directory to the root of the miniature file
system tree you’re creating:
DEBIAN. It should contain the control
information files, notably the binary package control file (see
The main control information file: control).
DEBIAN directory will not appear in the file system archive of
the package, and so won’t be installed by
dpkg when the package is
When you’ve prepared the package, you should invoke:
dpkg --build directory
This will build the package in
dpkg knows that
--build is a
dpkg-deb option, so it invokes
the same arguments to build the package.)
See the dpkg-deb(8) man page for details of how to examine the contents of this newly-created file. You may find the output of following commands enlightening:
dpkg-deb --info filename.deb dpkg-deb --contents filename.deb dpkg --contents filename.deb
To view the copyright file for a package you could use this command:
dpkg --fsys-tarfile filename.deb | tar xOf - --wildcards \*/copyright | pager
2.2. Package control information files¶
The control information portion of a binary package is a collection of
files with names known to
dpkg. It will treat the contents of these
files specially - some of them contain information used by
installing or removing the package; others are scripts which the package
dpkg to run.
It is possible to put other files in the package control information file area, but this is not generally a good idea (though they will largely be ignored).
Here is a brief list of the control information files supported by
dpkg and a summary of what they’re used for.
This is the key description file used by
dpkg. It specifies the package’s name and version, gives its description for the user, states its relationships with other packages, and so forth. See Source package control files – debian/control and Binary package control files – DEBIAN/control.
It is usually generated automatically from information in the source package by the
dpkg-gencontrolprogram, and with assistance from
dpkg-shlibdeps. See Source packages (from old Packaging Manual).
These are executable files (usually scripts) which
dpkgruns during installation, upgrade and removal of packages. They allow the package to deal with matters which are particular to that package or require more complicated processing than that provided by
dpkg. Details of when and how they are called are in Package maintainer scripts and installation procedure.
It is very important to make these scripts idempotent. See Maintainer scripts idempotency.
The maintainer scripts are not guaranteed to run with a controlling terminal and may not be able to interact with the user. See Controlling terminal for maintainer scripts.
conffilesThis file contains a list of configuration files which
are to be handled automatically by
dpkg(see Configuration file handling (from old Packaging Manual)). Note that not necessarily every configuration file should be listed here.
This file contains a list of the shared libraries supplied by the package, with dependency details for each. This is used by
dpkg-shlibdepswhen it determines what dependencies are required in a package control file. The
shlibsfile format is described on The shlibs File Format.
2.3. The main control information file:
The most important control information file used by
dpkg when it
installs a package is
control. It contains all the package’s “vital
The binary package control files of packages built from Debian sources
are made by a special tool,
dpkg-gencontrol, which reads
debian/changelog to find the information it
needs. See Source packages (from old Packaging Manual) for more details.
The fields in binary package control files are listed in Binary package control files – DEBIAN/control.
A description of the syntax of control files and the purpose of the fields is available in Control files and their fields.