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       debhelper - the debhelper tool suite


       dh_* [-v] [-a] [-i] [-s] [--no-act] [-ppackage] [-Npackage] [-Ptmpdir]


       Debhelper is used to help you build a debian package. The philosophy
       behind debhelper is to provide a collection of small, simple, and
       easily understood tools that are used in debian/rules to automate
       various common aspects of building a package. This means less work for
       you, the packager.  It also, to some degree means that these tools can
       be changed if debian policy changes, and packages that use them will
       require only a rebuild to comply with the new policy.

       A typical debian/rules file that uses debhelper will call several
       debhelper commands in sequence, or use dh(1) to automate this process.
       Examples of rules files that use debhelper are in

       To create a new debian package using debhelper, you can just copy one
       of the sample rules files and edit it by hand. Or you can try the dh-
       make package, which contains a dh_make command that partially automates
       the process. For a more gentle introduction, the maint-guide debian
       package contains a tutorial about making your first package using


       Here is the list of debhelper commands you can use. See their man pages
       for additional documentation.

           reload AppArmor profile and create local include

           automatically builds a package

           automatically cleans up after a build

           automatically configure a package prior to building

           automatically runs make install or similar

           automatically runs a package's test suites

           install bug reporting customization files into package build

           build debian binary packages

           clean up package build directories

           compress files and fix symlinks in package build directories

           fix permissions of files in package build directories

           install GConf defaults files and register schemas

           generate and install control file

           Update Freedesktop icon caches

           install files into package build directories

           install and register SGML Catalogs

           install changelogs into package build directories

           install cron scripts into etc/cron.*

           install files into the DEBIAN directory

           install files used by debconf in package build directories

           create subdirectories in package build directories

           install documentation into package build directories

           register an emacs add on package

           install example files into package build directories

           install if-up and if-down hooks

           install info files

           install upstart jobs or init scripts into package build directories

           install logcheck rulefiles into etc/logcheck/

           install logrotate config files

           install man pages into package build directories

           install debian menu files into package build directories

           install mime files into package build directories

           register modules with modutils

           install pam support files

           install ppp ip-up and ip-down files

           install udev rules files

           register a window manager

           register X fonts

           create symlinks in package build directories

           install lintian override files into package build directories

           list binary packages debhelper will act on

           automatically create shlibs file and call dpkg-gensymbols

           generate DEBIAN/md5sums file

           move files out of debian/tmp into subpackages

           calculates perl dependencies and cleans up after MakeMaker

           perform cleanups in preparation for building a binary package

           calculate shared library dependencies

           strip executables, shared libraries, and some static libraries

           test directory before building debian package

           ensure that a package is built as root

           migrate usr/local directories to maintainer scripts

   Deprecated Commands
       A few debhelper commands are deprecated and should not be used.

           deprecated no-op

           old-style man page installer (deprecated)

           calculates python dependencies and adds postinst and prerm python
           scripts (deprecated)

           deprecated no-op

           suid registration program (deprecated)

           undocumented.7 symlink program (deprecated no-op)

   Other Commands
       If a program's name starts with "dh_", and the program is not on the
       above lists, then it is not part of the debhelper package, but it
       should still work like the other programs described on this page.


       Many debhelper commands make use of files in debian/ to control what
       they do. Besides the common debian/changelog and debian/control, which
       are in all packages, not just those using debhelper, some additional
       files can be used to configure the behavior of specific debhelper
       commands. These files are typically named debian/ (where
       "package" of course, is replaced with the package that is being acted

       For example, dh_installdocs uses files named debian/ to
       list the documentation files it will install. See the man pages of
       individual commands for details about the names and formats of the
       files they use.  Generally, these files will list files to act on, one
       file per line. Some programs in debhelper use pairs of files and
       destinations or slightly more complicated formats.

       Note that if a package is the first (or only) binary package listed in
       debian/control, debhelper will use debian/foo if no debian/
       file can be found.

       In some rare cases, you may want to have different versions of these
       files for different architectures or OSes. If files named
       debian/ or debian/ exist, where "ARCH"
       and "OS" are the same as the output of  "dpkg-architecture
       -qDEB_HOST_ARCH" / "dpkg-architecture -qDEB_HOST_ARCH_OS", then they
       will be used in preference to other, more general files.

       In many cases, these config files are used to specify various types of
       files. Documentation or example files to install, files to move, and so
       on.  When appropriate, in cases like these, you can use standard shell
       wildcard characters ('?' and '*' and '[..]' character classes) in the

       You can also put comments in these files; lines beginning with "#" are


       The following command line options are supported by all debhelper

       -v, --verbose
           Verbose mode: show all commands that modify the package build

           Do not really do anything. If used with -v, the result is that the
           command will output what it would have done.

       -a, --arch
           Act on architecture dependent packages that should be built for the
           build architecture.

       -i, --indep
           Act on all architecture independent packages.

       -ppackage, --package=package
           Act on the package named "package". This option may be specified
           multiple times to make debhelper operate on a given set of

       -s, --same-arch
           This used to be a smarter version of the -a flag, but the -a flag
           is now equally smart.

       -Npackage, --no-package=package
           Do not act on the specified package even if an -a, -i, or -p option
           lists the package as one that should be acted on.

           Do not act on the packages which have already been acted on by this
           debhelper command earlier (i.e. if the command is present in the
           package debhelper log).  For example, if you need to call the
           command with special options only for a couple of binary packages,
           pass this option to the last call of the command to process the
           rest of packages with default settings.

           Ignore the specified file. This can be used if debian/ contains a
           debhelper config file that a debhelper command should not act on.
           Note that debian/compat, debian/control, and debian/changelog can't
           be ignored, but then, there should never be a reason to ignore
           those files.

           For example, if upstream ships a debian/init that you don't want
           dh_installinit to install, use --ignore=debian/init

       -Ptmpdir, --tmpdir=tmpdir
           Use "tmpdir" for package build directory. The default is

           This little-used option changes the package which debhelper
           considers the "main package", that is, the first one listed in
           debian/control, and the one for which debian/foo files can be used
           instead of the usual debian/ files.

           This is used by dh(1) when passing user-specified options to all
           the commands it runs. If the command supports the specified option
           or option bundle, it will take effect. If the command does not
           support the option (or any part of an option bundle), it will be


       The following command line options are supported by some debhelper
       programs.  See the man page of each program for a complete explanation
       of what each option does.

       -n  Do not modify postinst/postrm/etc scripts.

       -Xitem, --exclude=item
           Exclude an item from processing. This option may be used multiple
           times, to exclude more than one thing.

       -A, --all
           Makes files or other items that are specified on the command line
           take effect in ALL packages acted on, not just the first.


       The following command line options are supported by all of the
       dh_auto_* debhelper programs. These programs support a variety of build
       systems, and normally heuristically determine which to use, and how to
       use them.  You can use these command line options to override the
       default behavior.

       -Sbuildsystem, --buildsystem=buildsystem
           Force use of the specified buildsystem, instead of trying to auto-
           select one which might be applicable for the package.

       -Ddirectory, --sourcedirectory=directory
           Assume that the original package source tree is at the specified
           directory rather than the top level directory of the Debian source
           package tree.

       -B[directory], --builddirectory=[directory]
           Enable out of source building and use the specified directory as
           the build directory. If directory parameter is omitted, a default
           build directory will chosen.

           If this option is not specified, building will be done in source by
           default unless the build system requires or prefers out of source
           tree building.  In such a case, the default build directory will be
           used even if --builddirectory is not specified.

           If the build system prefers out of source tree building but still
           allows in source building, the latter can be re-enabled by passing
           a build directory path that is the same as the source directory

           Enable parallel builds if underlying build system supports them.
           The number of parallel jobs is controlled by the DEB_BUILD_OPTIONS
           environment variable ("Debian Policy, section 4.9.1") at build
           time. It might also be subject to a build system specific limit.

           If this option is not specified, debhelper currently defaults to
           not allowing parallel package builds.

           This option implies --parallel and allows further limiting the
           number of jobs that can be used in a parallel build. If the package
           build is known to only work with certain levels of concurrency, you
           can set this to the maximum level that is known to work, or that
           you wish to support.

       --list, -l
           List all build systems supported by debhelper on this system. The
           list includes both default and third party build systems (marked as
           such). Also shows which build system would be automatically
           selected, or which one is manually specified with the --buildsystem


   Multiple binary package support
       If your source package generates more than one binary package,
       debhelper programs will default to acting on all binary packages when
       run. If your source package happens to generate one architecture
       dependent package, and another architecture independent package, this
       is not the correct behavior, because you need to generate the
       architecture dependent packages in the binary-arch debian/rules target,
       and the architecture independent packages in the binary-indep
       debian/rules target.

       To facilitate this, as well as give you more control over which
       packages are acted on by debhelper programs, all debhelper programs
       accept the -a, -i, -p, and -s parameters. These parameters are
       cumulative.  If none are given, debhelper programs default to acting on
       all packages listed in the control file.

   Automatic generation of debian install scripts
       Some debhelper commands will automatically generate parts of debian
       maintainer scripts. If you want these automatically generated things
       included in your existing debian maintainer scripts, then you need to
       add "#DEBHELPER#" to your scripts, in the place the code should be
       added.  "#DEBHELPER#" will be replaced by any auto-generated code when
       you run dh_installdeb.

       If a script does not exist at all and debhelper needs to add something
       to it, then debhelper will create the complete script.

       All debhelper commands that automatically generate code in this way let
       it be disabled by the -n parameter (see above).

       Note that the inserted code will be shell code, so you cannot directly
       use it in a perl script. If you would like to embed it into a perl
       script, here is one way to do that (note that I made sure that $1, $2,
       etc are set with the set command):

         my $temp="set -e\nset -- @ARGV\n" . << 'EOF';
         system ($temp) / 256 == 0
               or die "Problem with debhelper scripts: $!";

   Automatic generation of miscellaneous dependencies.
       Some debhelper commands may make the generated package need to depend
       on some other packages. For example, if you use dh_installdebconf(1),
       your package will generally need to depend on debconf. Or if you use
       dh_installxfonts(1), your package will generally need to depend on a
       particular version of xutils. Keeping track of these miscellaneous
       dependencies can be annoying since they are dependant on how debhelper
       does things, so debhelper offers a way to automate it.

       All commands of this type, besides documenting what dependencies may be
       needed on their man pages, will automatically generate a substvar
       called ${misc:Depends}. If you put that token into your debian/control
       file, it will be expanded to the dependencies debhelper figures you

       This is entirely independent of the standard ${shlibs:Depends}
       generated by dh_makeshlibs(1), and the ${perl:Depends} generated by
       dh_perl(1).  You can choose not to use any of these, if debhelper's
       guesses don't match reality.

   Package build directories
       By default, all debhelper programs assume that the temporary directory
       used for assembling the tree of files in a package is debian/<package>.

       Sometimes, you might want to use some other temporary directory. This
       is supported by the -P flag. For example, "dh_installdocs
       -Pdebian/tmp", will use debian/tmp as the temporary directory. Note
       that if you use -P, the debhelper programs can only be acting on a
       single package at a time. So if you have a package that builds many
       binary packages, you will need to also use the -p flag to specify which
       binary package the debhelper program will act on.

   Debhelper compatibility levels
       From time to time, major non-backwards-compatible changes need to be
       made to debhelper, to keep it clean and well-designed as needs change
       and its author gains more experience. To prevent such major changes
       from breaking existing packages, the concept of debhelper compatibility
       levels was introduced. You tell debhelper which compatibility level it
       should use, and it modifies its behavior in various ways.

       Tell debhelper what compatibility level to use by writing a number to
       debian/compat. For example, to turn on v8 mode:

         % echo 8 > debian/compat

       Unless otherwise indicated, all debhelper documentation assumes that
       you are using the most recent compatibility level, and in most cases
       does not indicate if the behavior is different in an earlier
       compatibility level, so if you are not using the most recent
       compatibility level, you're advised to read below for notes about what
       is different in earlier compatibility levels.

       These are the available compatibility levels:

       v1  This is the original debhelper compatibility level, and so it is
           the default one. In this mode, debhelper will use debian/tmp as the
           package tree directory for the first binary package listed in the
           control file, while using debian/<package> for all other packages
           listed in the control file.

           This mode is deprecated.

       v2  In this mode, debhelper will consistently use debian/<package> as
           the package tree directory for every package that is built.

           This mode is deprecated.

       v3  This mode works like v2, with the following additions:

           -       Debhelper config files support globbing via * and ?, when
                   appropriate. To turn this off and use those characters raw,
                   just prefix with a backslash.

           -       dh_makeshlibs makes the postinst and postrm scripts call

           -       Every file in etc/ is automatically flagged as a conffile
                   by dh_installdeb.

           This mode is deprecated.

       v4  Changes from v3 are:

           -       dh_makeshlibs -V will not include the debian part of the
                   version number in the generated dependency line in the
                   shlibs file.

           -       You are encouraged to put the new ${misc:Depends} into
                   debian/control to supplement the ${shlibs:Depends} field.

           -       dh_fixperms will make all files in bin/ directories and in
                   etc/init.d executable.

           -       dh_link will correct existing links to conform with policy.

           This mode is deprecated.

       v5  Changes from v4 are:

           -       Comments are ignored in debhelper config files.

           -       dh_strip --dbg-package now specifies the name of a package
                   to put debugging symbols in, not the packages to take the
                   symbols from.

           -       dh_installdocs skips installing empty files.

           -       dh_install errors out if wildcards expand to nothing.

       v6  Changes from v5 are:

           -       Commands that generate maintainer script fragments will
                   order the fragments in reverse order for the prerm and
                   postrm scripts.

           -       dh_installwm will install a slave manpage link for
                   x-window-manager.1.gz, if it sees the man page in
                   usr/share/man/man1 in the package build directory.

           -       dh_builddeb did not previously delete everything matching
                   DH_ALWAYS_EXCLUDE, if it was set to a list of things to
                   exclude, such as "CVS:.svn:.git". Now it does.

           -       dh_installman allows overwriting existing man pages in the
                   package build directory. In previous compatibility levels
                   it silently refuses to do this.

       v7  Changes from v6 are:

           -       dh_install, will fall back to looking for files in
                   debian/tmp if it doesn't find them in the current directory
                   (or wherever you tell it look using --sourcedir). This
                   allows dh_install to interoperate with dh_auto_install,
                   which installs to debian/tmp, without needing any special

           -       dh_clean will read debian/clean and delete files listed

           -       dh_clean will delete toplevel *-stamp files.

           -       dh_installchangelogs will guess at what file is the
                   upstream changelog if none is specified.

       v8  This is the recommended mode of operation.

           Changes from v7 are:

           -       Commands will fail rather than warning when they are passed
                   unknown options.

           -       dh_makeshlibs will run dpkg-gensymbols on all shared
                   libraries that it generates shlibs files for. So -X can be
                   used to exclude libraries.  Also, libraries in unusual
                   locations that dpkg-gensymbols would not have processed
                   before will be passed to it, a behavior change that can
                   cause some packages to fail to build.

           -       dh requires the sequence to run be specified as the first
                   parameter, and any switches come after it. Ie, use "dh $@
                   --foo", not "dh --foo $@"

                   dh_auto_* prefer to use perl's Module::Build in preference
                   to Makefile.PL.

       Debhelper includes support for udebs. To create a udeb with debhelper,
       add "Package-Type: udeb" to the package's stanza in debian/control, and
       build-depend on debhelper (>= 4.2). Debhelper will try to create udebs
       that comply with debian-installer policy, by making the generated
       package files end in ".udeb", not installing any documentation into a
       udeb, skipping over preinst, postrm, prerm, and config scripts, etc.

   Other notes
       In general, if any debhelper program needs a directory to exist under
       debian/, it will create it. I haven't bothered to document this in all
       the man pages, but for example, dh_installdeb knows to make
       debian/<package>/DEBIAN/ before trying to put files there,
       dh_installmenu knows you need a debian/<package>/usr/share/menu/ before
       installing the menu files, etc.

       Once your package uses debhelper to build, be sure to add debhelper to
       your Build-Depends line in debian/control. You should build-depend on a
       version of debhelper equal to (or greater than) the debhelper
       compatibility level your package uses. So if your package used
       compatibility level 7:

         Build-Depends: debhelper (>= 7)


           Set to 1 to enable verbose mode. Debhelper will output every
           command it runs that modifies files on the build system.

           Temporarily specifies what compatibility level debhelper should run
           at, overriding any value in debian/compat.

           Set to 1 to enable no-act mode.

           Anything in this variable will be prepended to the command line
           arguments of all debhelper commands. Command-specific options will
           be ignored by commands that do not support them.

           This is useful in some situations, for example, if you need to pass
           -p to all debhelper commands that will be run. One good way to set
           DH_OPTIONS is by using "Target-specific Variable Values" in your
           debian/rules file. See the make documentation for details on doing

           If set, this adds the value the variable is set to to the -X
           options of all commands that support the -X option. Moreover,
           dh_builddeb will rm -rf anything that matches the value in your
           package build tree.

           This can be useful if you are doing a build from a CVS source tree,
           in which case setting DH_ALWAYS_EXCLUDE=CVS will prevent any CVS
           directories from sneaking into the package you build. Or, if a
           package has a source tarball that (unwisely) includes CVS
           directories, you might want to export DH_ALWAYS_EXCLUDE=CVS in
           debian/rules, to make it take effect wherever your package is

           Multiple things to exclude can be separated with colons, as in


           A set of example debian/rules files that use debhelper.

           Debhelper web site.


       Joey Hess <>