Chapter 3. Tool Setups

Table of Contents

3.1. Email address
3.2. mc
3.3. git
3.4. quilt
3.5. devscripts
3.6. pbuilder
3.7. git-buildpackage
3.8. HTTP proxy
3.9. Private Debian repository

The build-essential package must be installed in the build environment.

The devscripts package should be installed in the maintainer environment.

Although this is not necessarily an absolute requirement, it is a good idea to install and set up all of the popular set of packages mentioned in this chapter in the maintainer environment. This enables us to share the common baseline working environment.

Please install the tools mentioned in the Overview of Debian Maintainer Tools in the “Debian Developer’s Reference”, as needed, too.

[Caution] Caution

Tool setups presented here are only meant as an example and may not be up-to-date with the latest packages on the system. Debian development is a moving target. Please make sure to read the pertinent documentation and update the configuration as needed.

Various Debian maintenance tools recognize your email address and name to use by the shell environment variables $DEBEMAIL and $DEBFULLNAME.

Let’s setup these packages by adding the following lines to ~/.bashrc [6].

Add to the ~/.bashrc file. 

DEBFULLNAME="Firstname Lastname"

The mc command offers very easy ways to manage files. It can open the binary deb file to check its content by pressing the Enter key over the binary deb file. It uses the dpkg-deb command as its back-end. Let’s set it up to support easy chdir as follows.

Add to the ~/.bashrc file. 

# mc related
export HISTCONTROL=ignoreboth
. /usr/lib/mc/

Nowadays, the git command is the essential tool to manage the source tree with history.

The global user configuration for the git command such as your name and email address can be set in ~/.gitconfig as follows.

$ git config --global "Name Surname"
$ git config --global

If you are too accustomed to the CVS or Subversion commands, you may wish to set several command aliases as follows.

$ git config --global "commit -a"
$ git config --global checkout

You can check your global configuration as follows.

$ git config --global --list
[Tip] Tip

It is essential to use some GUI git tools like gitk or gitg to work effectively with the history of the git repository.

The quilt command offers a basic method for recording modifications. For the Debian packaging, it should be customized to record modifications in the debian/patches/ directory instead of its default patches/ directory.

In order to avoid changing the behavior of the quilt command itself, let’s create an alias dquilt for the Debian packaging by adding the following lines to the ~/.bashrc file. The second line provides the same shell completion feature of the quilt command to the dquilt command.

Add to the ~/.bashrc file. 

alias dquilt="quilt --quiltrc=${HOME}/.quiltrc-dpkg"
complete -F _quilt_completion $_quilt_complete_opt dquilt

Then let’s create ~/.quiltrc-dpkg as follows.

while [ ! -d $d/debian -a `readlink -e $d` != / ];
    do d=$d/..; done
if [ -d $d/debian ] && [ -z $QUILT_PATCHES ]; then
    # if in Debian packaging tree with unset $QUILT_PATCHES
    QUILT_DIFF_ARGS="-p ab --no-timestamps --no-index --color=auto"
    QUILT_REFRESH_ARGS="-p ab --no-timestamps --no-index"
    QUILT_COLORS="diff_hdr=1;32:diff_add=1;34:" + \
    if ! [ -d $d/debian/patches ]; then mkdir $d/debian/patches; fi

See quilt(1) and How To Survive With Many Patches or Introduction to Quilt on how to use the quilt command.

See Section 4.8, “Step 3 (alternative): Modification to the upstream source” for example usages.

The debsign command, included in the devscripts package, is used to sign the Debian package with your private GPG key.

The debuild command, included in the devscripts package, builds the binary package and checks it with the lintian command. It is useful to have verbose outputs from the lintian command.

You can set these up in ~/.devscripts as follows.

DEBUILD_LINTIAN_OPTS="-i -I --show-overrides"

The -i and -I options in DEBUILD_DPKG_BUILDPACKAGE_OPTS for the dpkg-source command help rebuilding of Debian packages without extraneous contents (see Section 5.15, “Building package without extraneous contents”).

Currently, an RSA key with 4096 bits is a good idea. See Creating a new GPG key.

The pbuilder package provides a clean room (chroot) build environment. [7]

Let’s customize it with several helper packages.

  • The cowbuilder package to boost the chroot creation speed.
  • The lintian package to find bugs in the package.
  • The bash, mc, and vim packages in case build fails.
  • The ccache package to boost the gcc speed. (optional)
  • The libeatmydata1 package to boost the dpkg speed. (optional)
  • The parallel make to boost the build speed. (optional)
[Warning] Warning

The optional customization may cause negative effects. In case of doubts, disable them.

Let’s create ~/.pbuilderrc as follows (all optional features are disabled).

#EXTRAPACKAGES="ccache lintian libeatmydata1"

# enable to use libeatmydata1 for pbuilder

# enable ccache for pbuilder
#export PATH="/usr/lib/ccache${PATH+:$PATH}"
#export CCACHE_DIR="/var/cache/pbuilder/ccache"

# parallel make
[Note] Note

A symlink from /root/.pbuilderrc to /home/<user>/.pbuilderrc may help for the consistent experience.

[Note] Note

Due to Bug #606542, you may need to manually install packages listed in EXTRAPACKAGES into the chroot. See Section 7.10, “chroot”.

[Note] Note

Install libeatmydata1 (>=82-2) both inside and outside of the chroot or disable to use libeatmydata1. This may cause a race condition with some build systems.

[Note] Note

The parallel make may fail for some existing packages and may make the build log difficult to read.

Let’s create a hook scripts as follows.


set -e
# increase the ccache caching size
ccache -M 4G
# output the current statistics
ccache -s


set -e
apt-get -y --allow-downgrades install lintian
echo "+++ lintian output +++"
su -c "lintian -i -I --show-overrides /tmp/buildd/*.changes; :" -l pbuilder
echo "+++ end of lintian output +++"


set -e
apt-get -y --allow-downgrades install vim bash mc
# invoke shell if build fails
cd /tmp/buildd/*/debian/..
/bin/bash < /dev/tty > /dev/tty 2> /dev/tty
[Note] Note

All these scripts need to be set world executable: “-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root”.

[Note] Note

The ccache cache directory /var/cache/pbuilder/ccache needs to be set world writable: “-rwxrwxrwx 1 root root” for the pbuilder command. You should be aware of associated security concerns.

You may wish to set several global configurations in ~/.gbp.conf

# Configuration file for "gbp <command>"

# the default build command:
builder = git-pbuilder -i -I -us -uc
# use pristine-tar:
pristine-tar = True
# Use color when on a terminal, alternatives: on/true, off/false or auto
color = auto
[Tip] Tip

The gbp command is the alias of the git-buildpackage command.

You should set up a local HTTP caching proxy to save the bandwidth for the Debian package repository access. There are several choices:

  • Simple HTTP caching proxy using the squid package.
  • Specialized HTTP caching proxy using the apt-cacher-ng package.

You can set up a private Debian package repository with the reprepro package.

[6] This assumes you are using Bash as your login shell. If you use some other login shell such as Z shell, use their corresponding configuration files instead of ~/.bashrc.

[7] The sbuild package provides an alternative chroot platform.