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DH_PYTHON3(1) General Commands Manual DH_PYTHON3(1)


dh_python3 - calculates Python dependencies, adds maintainer scripts to byte compile files, etc.


dh_python3 -p PACKAGE [-V [X.Y][-][A.B]] DIR [-X REGEXPR]



  • build depend on dh-python
  • build-depend on python3 (Python application) or python3-all (Python module) or python3-all-dev (Python extension),
  • if necessary, describe supported Python 3 versions via X-Python3-Version field in debian/control,
  • build module/application using its standard build system (pybuild wrapper recommended, see pybuild.1 for more details), remember to build extensions for all supported Python 3 versions (loop over py3versions -vr),
  • install files to the standard locations, add --install-layout=deb to's install command if your package is using distutils,
  • add python3 to dh's --with option, or:
  • include /usr/share/cdbs/1/class/ in debian/rules and depend on cdbs (>= 0.4.90), or:
  • call dh_python3 in the binary-* target,
  • add ${python3:Depends} to Depends



dh_python3 tries to translate Python dependencies from Requires-Dist entries in dist-info or requires.txt contents in egg-info to Debian dependencies. In many cases, this works without any additional configuration because dh_python3 comes with a build-in mapping of Python module names to Debian packages that is periodically regenerated from the Debian archive. By default, the version information in the Python dependencies is discarded. If you want dh_python3 to generate more strict dependencies (e.g. to avoid ABI problems), or if the automatic mapping does not work correctly for your package, you have to provide dh_python3 with additional rules for the translation of Python module to Debian package dependencies.

For a package python3-foo that depends on a package python3-bar, there are two files that may provide such rules:

If the python3-foo source package ships with a debian/py3dist-overrides file, this file is used by dh_python3 during the build of python3-foo.
If the python3-bar source package ships with a debian/python3-bar.pydist file (and uses dh_python3), this file will be included in the binary package as /usr/share/dh-python/dist/cpython3/python3-bar. During the build of python3-foo, dh_python3 will then find and use the file.

Both files have the same format described in /usr/share/doc/dh-python/README.PyDist. If all you want is to generate versioned dependencies (and assuming that the python3-bar package provides the pybar Python module), in most cases it will be sufficient to put the line pybar python3-bar; PEP386 into either of the above files.

private dirs

/usr/share/foo, /usr/share/games/foo, /usr/lib/foo and /usr/lib/games/foo private directories are scanned for Python files by default (where foo is binary package name). If your package ships Python files in some other directory, add another dh_python3 call in debian/rules with directory name as an argument - you can use different set of options in this call. If you need to change options (f.e. a list of supported Python 3 versions) for a private directory that is checked by default, invoke dh_python3 with --skip-private option and add another call with a path to this directory and new options.

debug packages

In binary packages which name ends with -dbg, all files in /usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/ directory that have extensions different than so or h are removed by default. Use --no-dbg-cleaning option to disable this feature.

pyinstall files

Files listed in debian/pkg.pyinstall file will be installed as public modules (i.e. into .../dist-packages/ directory) for all requested Python versions.

Syntax: path/to/file [NAMESPACE] [VERSION_RANGE]

debian directory is automatically removed from the path, so you can place your files in debian/ directory and install them from this location (if you want to install them in "debian" namespace, set NAMESPACE to debian). If NAMESPACE is set, all listed files will be installed in .../dist-packages/NAMESPACE/ directory.

  • installs .../dist-packages/ for all supported Python versions
  • foo/ 3.3- installs .../dist-packages/foo/ for versions >= 3.3
  • foo/ spam installs .../dist-packages/spam/
  • debian/*.py spam.egg 3.2 installs .../python3.2/dist-packages/spam/egg/*.py files

pyremove files

If you want to remove some public modules (i.e. files in .../dist-packages/ directory) installed by build system (from all supported Python versions or only from a subset of these versions), add them to debian/pkg.pyremove file.

  • *.pth removes .pth files from .../dist-packages/
  • bar/ 3.2 removes .../python3.2/dist-packages/bar/

bcep files

Byte-compilation exception patterns can be described in these files. Use it if you want py3compile to skip specific files. This is the only way to skip .py files in …/dist-packages/ directory (as --exclude passed to py3compile in postinst is not used in rtupdate scripts and thus this option cannot be used for non-private modules).

re|-3.6|/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/jinja2|.*/async(foo|bar).py will skip byte-compilation of and in /usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/jinja2/ directory for each interpreter that doesn't support async keyword (introduced in Python 3.6).

If you want to skip byte-compilation in a subdirectory for all interpreters, use: dir|-4.0|/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/foo/tests/. VERSION_RANGE (-4.0 in the example) is described in README.PyDist file.

debian/python3-foo.bcep file from source package will be included in the binary package as /usr/share/python3/bcep/python3-foo.bcep

overriding supported / default Python versions

If you want to override system's list of supported Python versions or the default one (f.e. to build a package that includes symlinks for older version of Python or compile .py files only for given interpreter version), you can do that via DEBPYTHON3_SUPPORTED and/or DEBPYTHON3_DEFAULT env. variables.

Example: 3.2,3.3 limits the list of supported Python versions to Python 3.2 and Python 3.3.


show program's version number and exit
show help message and exit
disable guessing dependencies
do not remove any files from debug packages
do not add magic tags nor multiarch tuples to extension file names
do not rewrite shebangs
don't check private directories
turn verbose mode on
act on architecture independent packages
act on architecture dependent packages
be quiet
act on the package named PACKAGE
do not act on the specified package
Do not act on the packages which have already been acted on by this command earlier in the same override.
specify list of supported Python 3 versions. See py3compile(1) for examples
exclude items that match given REGEXPR. You may use this option multiple times to build up a list of things to exclude from byte-compilation in private dirs. See also bcep files.
compile all files from given private directory in postinst/rtupdate not just the ones provided by the package (i.e. do not pass the --package parameter to py3compile/py3clean)
accept upstream versions while translating Python dependencies into Debian ones
translate given requirements into Debian dependencies and add them to ${python3:Depends}. Use it for missing items in requires.txt / Requires-Dist.
translate requirements from given extra sections of requres.txt / Requires-Dist into Debian dependencies and add them to ${python3:Depends}. May be repeated for multiple sections.
translate given requirements into Debian dependencies and add them to ${python3:Recommends}
translate requirements from given extra sections of requires.txt / Requires-Dist into Debian dependencies and add them to ${python3:Recommends}. May be repeated for multiple sections.
translate given requirements into Debian dependencies and add them to ${python3:Suggests}
translate requirements from given extra sections of requires.txt / Requires-Dist into Debian dependencies and add them to ${python3:Suggests}. May be repeated for multiple sections.
translate requirements from given file(s) into Debian dependencies and add them to ${python3:Depends}
use given command as shebang in scripts
do not translate shebangs into Debian dependencies



Piotr Ożarowski, 2012-2013