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dh_python2 - calculates Python dependencies, adds maintainer scripts to byte compile files, etc.


dh_python2 -p PACKAGE [-V [X.Y][-][A.B]] DIR_OR_FILE [-X REGEXPR]



  • if necessary, describe supported Python versions via X-Python-Version field in debian/control,
  • build depend on dh-python
  • build-depend on python or python-all or python-all-dev (>= 2.6.6-3~),
  • build module/application using its standard build system, remember to build extensions for all supported Python versions (loop over pyversions -vr),
  • install files to the standard locations, add --install-layout=deb to's install command if your package is using distutils,
  • add python2 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_python2 in the binary-* target,
  • add ${python:Depends} to Depends


In order to support more than one Python version in the same binary package, dh_python2 (unlike dh_pycentral and dh_pysupport) creates symlinks to all supported Python versions at build time. It means binNMU (or sourceful upload in case of architecture independent packages) is required once a list of supported Python version is changed. It's faster and more robust than its competitors, though.


dh_python2 tries to translate Python dependencies from the requires.txt file to Debian dependencies. In many cases, this works without any additional configuration because dh_python2 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_python2 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_python2 with additional rules for the translation of Python module to Debian package dependencies.

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

If the python-foo source package ships with a debian/pydist-overrides file, this file is used by dh_python during the build of python-foo.
If the python-bar source package ships with a debian/python-bar.pydist file (and uses dh_python), this file will be included in the binary package as /usr/share/dh-python/dist/cpython2/python-bar. During the build of python-foo, dh_python 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 python-bar package provides the pybar Python module), in most cases it will be sufficient to put the line pybar python-bar; PEP386 into either of the above files.

namespace feature

dh_python2 parses Egg's namespace_packages.txt files (in addition to --namespace command line argument(s)) and drops empty files from binary package. pycompile will regenerate them at install time and pyclean will remove them at uninstall time (if they're no longer used in installed packages). It's still a good idea to provide file in one of binary packages (even if all other packages use this feature).

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_python2 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 versions) for a private directory that is checked by default, invoke dh_python2 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/python2.X/{site,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 (dh_install doesn't know about python's site- vs. dist-packages issue).

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/ 2.6- installs .../dist-packages/foo/ for versions >= 2.6
  • foo/ spam installs .../dist-packages/spam/
  • debian/*.py spam.egg 2.5 installs .../python2.5/site-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/ 2.5 removes .../python2.5/site-packages/bar/

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 DEBPYTHON_SUPPORTED and/or DEBPYTHON_DEFAULT env. variables.

Example: 2.5,2.7 limits the list of supported Python versions to Python 2.5 and Python 2.7.


show program's version number and exit
show help message and exit
disable guessing other supported Python versions
disable guessing dependencies
do not remove any files from debug packages

--no-ext-rename 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
specify list of supported Python versions. See pycompile(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.
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 pycompile/pyclean)
accept upstream versions while translating Python dependencies into Debian ones
translate given requirements into Debian dependencies and add them to ${python:Depends}. Use it for missing items in requires.txt
translate requirements from given sections of requres.txt file into Debian dependencies and add them to ${python:Depends}.
translate given requirements into Debian dependencies and add them to ${python:Recommends}
translate requirements from given sections of requres.txt file into Debian dependencies and add them to ${python:Recommends}.
translate given requirements into Debian dependencies and add them to ${python:Suggests}
translate requirements from given sections of requres.txt file into Debian dependencies and add them to ${python:Suggests}.
translate requirements from given file(s) into Debian dependencies and add them to ${python:Depends}
use this option (multiple time if necessary) if namespace_packages.txt is not complete
ignore Egg's namespace declaration and --namespace option. This option will disable removing (and recreating at install time) empty files. Removing namespace_packages.txt from egg-info directory has the same effect.
generate maintainer script that will remove byte code generated by python-central helper
use given command as shebang in scripts
do not translate shebangs into Debian dependencies



Piotr Ożarowski, 2012-2013