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DEBMAKE(1) Debmake Manual DEBMAKE(1)


debmake - program to make a Debian source package


debmake [-h] [-c | -k] [-n | -a package-version.orig.tar.gz | -d | -t ] [-p package] [-u version] [-r revision] [-z extension] [-b "binarypackage, ...]" [-e] [-f "firstname lastname"] [-i "buildtool" | -j] [-l license_file] [-m] [-o file] [-q] [-s] [-v] [-w "addon, ..."] [-x [01234]] [-y] [-L] [-P] [-T]


debmake helps to build a Debian package from the upstream source. Normally, this is done as follows:

•The upstream tarball is downloaded as the package-version.tar.gz file.

•It is untarred to create many files under the package-version/ directory.

•debmake is invoked in the package-version/ directory, possibly without any arguments.

•Files in the package-version/debian/ directory are manually adjusted.

dpkg-buildpackage (usually from its wrapper debuild or pdebuild) is invoked in the package-version/ directory to make Debian packages.

Make sure to protect the arguments of the -b, -f, -l, and -w options from shell interference by quoting them properly.

optional arguments:

-h, --help

show this help message and exit.

-c, --copyright

scan source for copyright+license text and exit.

-c: simple output style

-cc: normal output style (similar to the debian/copyright file)

-ccc: debug output style

-k, --kludge

compare the debian/copyright file with the source and exit.

The debian/copyright file must be organized to list the generic file patterns before the specific exceptions.

-k: basic output style

-kk: verbose output style

-n, --native

make a native Debian source package without .orig.tar.gz. This makes a “3.0 (native)” format package.

If you are thinking of packaging a Debian-specific source tree with debian/* in it into a native Debian package, please think otherwise. You can use the “debmake -d -i debuild” or “debmake -t -i debuild” commands to make a “3.0 (quilt)” format non-native Debian package. The only difference is that the debian/changelog file must use the non-native version scheme: version-revision. The non-native package is more friendly to downstream distributions.

-a package-version.tar.gz, --archive package-version.tar.gz

use the upstream source tarball directly. (-p, -u, -z: overridden)

The upstream tarball may be specified as package_version.orig.tar.gz and tar.gz. For other cases, it may be tar.bz2, or tar.xz.

If the specified upstream tarball name contains uppercase letters, the Debian package name is generated by converting them to lowercase letters.

If the specified argument is the URL (http://, https://, or ftp://) to the upstream tarball, the upstream tarball is downloaded from the URL using wget or curl.

-d, --dist

run the “make dist” command equivalents first to generate the upstream tarball and use it.

The “debmake -d” command is designed to run in the package/ directory hosting the upstream VCS with the build system supporting the “make dist” command equivalents. (automake/autoconf, Python distutils, ...)

-t, --tar

run the “tar” command to generate the upstream tarball and use it.

The “debmake -t” command is designed to run in the package/ directory hosting the upstream VCS. Unless you provide the upstream version with the -u option or with the debian/changelog file, a snapshot upstream version is generated in the 0~%y%m%d%H%M format, e.g., 0~1403012359, from the UTC date and time. The generated tarball excludes the debian/ directory found in the upstream VCS. (It also excludes typical VCS directories: .git/ .hg/ .svn/ .CVS/.)

-p package, --package package

set the Debian package name.

-u version, --upstreamversion version

set the upstream package version.

-r revision, --revision revision

set the Debian package revision.

-z extension, --targz extension

set the tarball type, extension=(tar.gz|tar.bz2|tar.xz). (alias: z, b, x)

-b "binarypackage[:type],...", --binaryspec "binarypackage[:type],..."

set the binary package specs by a comma separated list of binarypackage:type pairs, e.g., in the full form “foo:bin,foo-doc:doc,libfoo1:lib,libfoo-dev:dev” or in the short form, “-doc,libfoo1,libfoo-dev”.

Here, binarypackage is the binary package name, and the optional type is chosen from the following type values:

bin: C/C++ compiled ELF binary code package (any, foreign) (default, alias: "", i.e., null-string)

data: Data (fonts, graphics, ...) package (all, foreign) (alias: da)

dev: Library development package (any, same) (alias: de)

doc: Documentation package (all, foreign) (alias: do)

lib: Library package (any, same) (alias: l)

perl: Perl script package (all, foreign) (alias: pl)

python: Python script package (all, foreign) (alias: py)

python3: Python3 script package (all, foreign) (alias: py3)

ruby: Ruby script package (all, foreign) (alias: rb)

script: Shell script package (all, foreign) (alias: sh)

The pair values in the parentheses, such as (any, foreign), are the Architecture and Multi-Arch stanza values set in the debian/control file.

In many cases, the debmake command makes good guesses for type from binarypackage. If type is not obvious, type is set to bin. For example, libfoo sets type to lib, and font-bar sets type to data, ...

If the source tree contents do not match settings for type, the debmake command warns you.

-e, --email

set e-mail address.

The default is taken from the value of the environment variable $DEBEMAIL.

-f "firstname lastname", --fullname "firstname lastname"

set the fullname.

The default is taken from the value of the environment variable $DEBFULLNAME.

-i "buildtool", --invoke "buildtool"

invoke "buildtool" at the end of execution. buildtool may be “dpkg-buildpackage”, “debuild”, “pdebuild”, “pdebuild --pbuilder cowbuilder”, etc.

The default is not to execute any program.

Setting this option automatically sets the --local option.

-j, --judge

run dpkg-depcheck to judge build dependencies and identify file paths. Log files are in the parent directory. Log file for dpkg-depcheck.

package.install.log: Log file recording files in the debian/tmp directory.

-l "license_file,...", --license "license_file,..."

add formatted license text to the end of the debian/copyright file holding license scan results.

The default is to add COPYING and LICENSE, and license_file needs to list only the additional file names all separated by “,”.

-m, --monoarch

force packages to be non-multiarch.

-o file, --option file

read optional parameters from file. (This is not for everyday use.)

The content of file is sourced as the Python3 code at the end of For example, the package description can be specified by the following file.

para['desc'] = 'program short description'
para['desc_long'] = '''\

program long description which you wish to include.
Empty line is space + .
You keep going on ... '''

-q, --quitearly

quit early before creating files in the debian/ directory.

-s, --spec

use upstream spec ( for Python, etc.) for the package description.

-v, --version

show version information.

-w "addon,...", --with "addon,..."

add extra arguments to the --with option of the dh(1) command as addon in debian/rules.

The addon values are listed all separated by “,”, e.g., “-w "python2,autoreconf"”.

For Autotools based packages, setting autoreconf as addon forces running “autoreconf -i -v -f” for every package building. Otherwise, autotools-dev as addon is used as the default.

For Autotools based packages, if they install Python programs, python2 as addon is needed for packages with “compat < 9” since this is non-obvious. But for based packages, python2 as addon is not needed since this is obvious and it is automatically set for the dh(1) command by the debmake command when it is required.

-x n, --extra n

generate configuration files as templates. (Please note debian/changelog, debian/control, debian/copyright, and debian/rules are bare minimum configuration files to build a Debian binary package.)

The number n determines which configuration templates are generated.

-x0: bare minimum configuration files. (default option if any of bare minimum configuration files already exist)

-x1: all -x0 files + desirable configuration files for the single binary package. (default option for the single binary package if none of bare minimum configuration files exist)

-x2: all -x1 files + desirable configuration files for the multi binary package. (default option for the multi binary package if none of bare minimum configuration files exist)

-x3: all -x2 files + unusual configuration template files. Unusual configuration template files are generated with the extra .ex suffix to ease their removal. To use these as configuration files, rename their file names to ones without the .ex suffix.

-x4: all -x3 files + copyright file examples.

-y, --yes

“force yes” for all prompts. (without option: “ask [Y/n]”; doubled option: “force no”)

-L, --local

generate configuration files for the local package to fool lintian(1) checks.

-P, --pedantic

pedantically check auto-generated files.

-T, --tutorial

output tutorial comment lines in template files.


For a well behaving source, you can build a good-for-local-use installable single Debian binary package easily with one command. Test install of such a package generated in this way offers a good alternative to the traditional “make install” command installing into the /usr/local directory since the Debian package can be removed cleanly by the “dpkg -P ...” command. Here are some examples of how to build such test packages. (These should work in most cases. If the -d option does not work, try the -t option instead.)

For a typical C program source tree packaged with autoconf/automake:

debmake -d -i debuild

For a typical Python module source tree:

debmake -s -d -b":python" -i debuild

For a typical Python module in the package-version.tar.gz archive:

debmake -s -a package-version.tar.gz -b":python" -i debuild

For a typical Perl module in the Package-version.tar.gz archive:

debmake -a Package-version.tar.gz -b":perl" -i debuild


Packaging may require installation of some additional specialty helper packages.

•Python3 programs may require the dh-python package.

•The Autotools (Autoconf + Automake) build system may require autotools-dev or dh-autoreconf package.

•Ruby programs may require the gem2deb package.

•Java programs may require the javahelper package.

•Gnome programs may require the gobject-introspection package.



debmake is meant to provide template files for the package maintainer to work on. Comment lines started by # contain the tutorial text. You must remove or edit such comment lines before uploading to the Debian archive.

The license extraction and assignment process involves a lot of heuristics; it may fail in some cases. It is highly recommended to use other tools such as licensecheck from the devscripts package in conjunction with debmake.

There are some limitations for what characters may be used as a part of the Debian package. The most notable limitation is the prohibition of uppercase letters in the package name. Here is a summary as a set of regular expressions:

•Upstream package name (-p): [-+.a-z0-9]{2,}

•Binary package name (-b): [-+.a-z0-9]{2,}

•Upstream version (-u): [0-9][-+.:~a-z0-9A-Z]*

•Debian revision (-r): [0-9][+.~a-z0-9A-Z]*

See the exact definition in Chapter 5 - Control files and their fields in the “Debian Policy Manual”.

debmake assumes relatively simple packaging cases. So all programs related to the interpreter are assumed to be "Architecture: all". This is not always true.


Please report bugs to the debmake package using the reportbug command.

The character set in the environment variable $DEBUG determines the logging output level.

i: print information

p: list all global parameters

d: list parsed parameters for all binary packages

f: input filename for the copyright scan

y: year/name split of copyright line

s: line scanner for format_state

b: content_state scan loop: begin-loop

m: content_state scan loop: after regex match

e: content_state scan loop: end-loop

c: print copyright section text

l: print license section text

a: print author/translator section text

k: sort key for debian/copyright stanza

n: scan result of debian/copyright (“debmake -k”)

Use this as:

$ DEBUG=pdfbmeclak debmake ...

See README.developer in the source for more.


Copyright © 2014-2017 Osamu Aoki <>


Expat License


The debmake-doc package provides the “Guide for Debian Maintainers” in plain text, HTML and PDF formats under the /usr/share/doc/debmake-doc/ directory.

See also dpkg-source(1), deb-control(5), debhelper(7), dh(1), dpkg-buildpackage(1), debuild(1), quilt(1), dpkg-depcheck(1), pdebuild(1), pbuilder(8), cowbuilder(8), gbp-buildpackage(1), gbp-pq(1), and git-pbuilder(1) manpages.

08/08/2018 DEBMAKE