alien - Convert or install an alien binary package
alien [--to-deb] [--to-rpm] [--to-tgz] [--to-slp] [options] file [...]
is a program that converts between Red Hat rpm, Debian deb,
Stampede slp, Slackware tgz, and Solaris pkg file formats. If you want to use
a package from another linux distribution than the one you have installed on
your system, you can use alien
to convert it to your preferred package
format and install it. It also supports LSB packages.
should not be used to replace important system packages, like init,
libc, or other things that are essential for the functioning of your system.
Many of these packages are set up differently by the different distributions,
and packages from the different distributions cannot be used interchangeably.
In general, if you can't remove a package without breaking your system, don't
try to replace it with an alien version.
PACKAGE FORMAT NOTES¶
- For converting to and from rpm format the Red Hat Package Manager must be
- Unlike the other package formats, alien can handle the
depenendencies of lsb packages if the destination package format supports
dependencies. Note that this means that the package generated from a lsb
package will depend on a package named "lsb" -- your
distribution should provide a package by that name, if it is lsb
compliant. The scripts in the lsb package will be converted by default as
To generate lsb packages, the Red Hat Package Manager must be installed, and
alien will use by preference a program named lsb-rpm, if it exists.
No guarantees are made that the generated lsb packages will be fully LSB
compliant, and it's rather unlikely they will unless you build them in the
Note that unlike other package formats, converting an LSB package to another
format will not cause its minor version number to be changed.
- For converting to (but not from) deb format, the gcc, make, debhelper,
dpkg-dev, and dpkg packages must be installed.
- Note that when converting from the tgz format, alien will simply
generate an output package that has the same files in it as are in the tgz
file. This only works well if the tgz file has precompiled binaries in it
in a standard linux directory tree. Do NOT run alien on tar files
with source code in them, unless you want this source code to be installed
in your root directory when you install the package!
When using alien to convert a tgz package, all files in /etc in are
assumed to be configuration files.
- To manipulate packages in the Solaris pkg format (which is really the SV
datastream package format), you will need the Solaris pkginfo and pkgtrans
will convert all the files you pass into it into all the output
types you specify. If no output type is specified, it defaults to converting
to deb format.
- file [...]
- The list of package files to convert.
- -d, --to-deb
- Make debian packages. This is the default.
- -r, --to-rpm
- Make rpm packages.
- -t, --to-tgz
- Make tgz packages.
- Make slp packages.
- -p, --to-pkg
- Make Solaris pkg packages.
- -i, --install
- Automatically install each generated package, and remove the package file
after it has been installed.
- -g, --generate
- Generate a temporary directory suitable for building a package from, but
do not actually create the package. This is useful if you want to move
files around in the package before building it. The package can be built
from this temporary directory by running "debian/rules binary",
if you were creating a Debian package, or by running "rpmbuild -bb
<packagename>.spec" if you were creating a Red Hat
- -s, --single
- Like -g, but do not generate the packagename.orig directory. This
is only useful when you are very low on disk space and are generating a
- -c, --scripts
- Try to convert the scripts that are meant to be run when the package is
installed and removed. Use this with caution, because these scripts might
be designed to work on a system unlike your own, and could cause problems.
It is recommended that you examine the scripts by hand and check to see
what they do before using this option.
This is enabled by default when converting from lsb packages.
- Specify the patch to be used instead of automatically looking the patch up
in /var/lib/alien. This has no effect unless a debian package is
- Be less strict about which patch file is used, perhaps attempting to use a
patch file for an older version of the package. This is not guaranteed to
always work; older patches may not necessarily work with newer
- Do not use any patch files.
- Specifiy a description for the package. This only has an effect when
converting from the tgz package format, which lacks descriptions.
- Specifiy a version for the package. This only has an effect when
converting from the tgz package format, which may lack version
Note that without an argument, this displays the version of alien
- -T, --test
- Test the generated packages. Currently this is only supported for debian
packages, which, if lintian is installed, will be tested with lintian and
lintian's output displayed.
- -k, --keep-version
- By default, alien adds one to the minor version number of each
package it converts. If this option is given, alien will not do
- Instead of incrementing the version number of the converted package by 1,
increment it by the given number.
- Sanitize all file owners and permissions when building a deb. This may be
useful if the original package is a mess. On the other hand, it may break
some things to mess with their permissions and owners to the degree this
does, so it defaults to off. This can only be used when converting to
- Force the architecture of the generated package to the given string.
- -v, --verbose
- Be verbose: Display each command alien runs in the process of
converting a package.
- Be verbose as with --verbose, but also display the output of each command
run. Some commands may generate a lot of output.
- -h, --help
- Display a short usage summary.
- -V, --version
- Display the version of alien.
Here are some examples of the use of alien
- alien --to-deb package.rpm
- Convert the package.rpm into a package.deb
- alien --to-rpm package.deb
- Convert the package.deb into a package.rpm
- alien -i package.rpm
- Convert the package.rpm into a package.deb (converting to a .deb package
is default, so you need not specify --to-deb), and install the generated
- alien --to-deb --to-rpm --to-tgz --to-slp foo.deb bar.rpm baz.tgz
- Creates 9 new packages. When it is done, foo bar and baz are available in
all 4 package formats.
recognizes the following environment variables:
- Options to pass to rpm when it is building a package.
- Options to pass to rpm when it is installing a package.
- If set, alien assumes this is your email address. Email addresses
are included in generated debian packages.
was written by Christoph Lameter,
deb to rpm conversion code was taken from the martian program by Randolph Chung,
The Solaris pkg code was written by Mark A. Hershberger
alien has been extensively rewritten (3 times) and is now maintained by Joey
alien may be copied and modified under the terms of the GNU General Public