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DEBSIGN(1) General Commands Manual DEBSIGN(1)


debsign - sign a Debian .changes and .dsc file pair using GPG


debsign [options] [changes-file|dsc-file|commands-file ...]


debsign mimics the signing aspects (and bugs) of dpkg-buildpackage(1). It takes a .dsc, .buildinfo, or .changes file and signs it, and any child .dsc, .buildinfo, or .changes files directly or indirectly referenced by it, using the GNU Privacy Guard. It is careful to calculate the size and checksums of any newly signed child files and replace the original values in the parent file.

If no file is specified, debian/changelog is parsed to determine the name of the .changes file to look for in the parent directory.

If a .commands file is specified it is first validated (see the details at, and the name specified in the Uploader field is used for signing.

This utility is useful if a developer must build a package on one machine where it is unsafe to sign it; they need then only transfer the small .dsc, .buildinfo and .changes files to a safe machine and then use the debsign program to sign them before transferring them back. This process can be automated in two ways. If the files to be signed live on the remote machine, the -r option may be used to copy them to the local machine and back again after signing. If the files live on the local machine, then they may be transferred to the remote machine for signing using debrsign(1). However note that it is probably safer to have your trusted signing machine use debsign to connect to the untrusted non-signing machine, rather than using debrsign to make the connection in the reverse direction.

This program can take default settings from the devscripts configuration files, as described below.


The files to be signed live on the specified remote host. In this case, a .dsc, .buildinfo or .changes file must be explicitly named, with an absolute directory or one relative to the remote home directory. scp will be used for the copying. The [username@]remotehost:filename syntax is permitted as an alternative. Wildcards (* etc.) are allowed.
When debsign needs to execute GPG to sign it will run progname (searching the PATH if necessary), instead of gpg.
Specify the maintainer name to be used for signing. (See dpkg-buildpackage(1) for more information about the differences between -m, -e and -k when building packages; debsign makes no use of these distinctions except with respect to the precedence of the various options. These multiple options are provided so that the program will behave as expected when called by debuild(1).)
Same as -m but takes precedence over it.
Specify the key ID to be used for signing; overrides any -m and -e options.
Look for a source-only .changes file instead of a binary-build .changes file.
See dpkg-architecture(1) for a description of these options. They affect the search for the .changes file. They are provided to mimic the behaviour of dpkg-buildpackage when determining the name of the .changes file.
Multiarch .changes mode: This signifies that debsign should use the most recent file with the name pattern package_version_*+*.changes as the .changes file, allowing for the .changes files produced by dpkg-cross.
Recreate signature, respectively use the existing signature, if the file has been signed already. If neither option is given and an already signed file is found the user is asked if he or she likes to use the current signature.
Look for the files to be signed in directory DIR instead of the parent of the source directory. This should either be an absolute path or relative to the top of the source directory.
Do not read any configuration files. This can only be used as the first option given on the command-line.
Display a help message and exit successfully.
Display version and copyright information and exit successfully.


The two configuration files /etc/devscripts.conf and ~/.devscripts are sourced in that order to set configuration variables. Command line options can be used to override configuration file settings. Environment variable settings are ignored for this purpose. The currently recognised variables are:

Setting this is equivalent to giving a -p option.
This is the -m option.
And this is the -k option.
Always re-sign files even if they are already signed, without prompting.
This specifies the directory in which to look for the files to be signed, and is either an absolute path or relative to the top of the source tree. This corresponds to the --debs-dir command line option. This directive could be used, for example, if you always use pbuilder or svn-buildpackage to build your packages. Note that it also affects debrelease(1) in the same way, hence the strange name of the option.


debrsign(1), debuild(1), dpkg-architecture(1), dpkg-buildpackage(1), gpg(1), gpg2(1), md5sum(1), sha1sum(1), sha256sum(1), scp(1), devscripts.conf(5)


This program was written by Julian Gilbey <> and is copyright under the GPL, version 2 or later.

Debian Utilities DEBIAN