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NAME    [Toc]    [Back]

       debhelper - the debhelper tool suite

SYNOPSIS    [Toc]    [Back]

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

DESCRIPTION    [Toc]    [Back]

       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. Debhelper commands are all named with a
       "dh_" prefix.  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 dhmake
 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 debhelper.


       Here is the complete list of available debhelper commands. See their
       man pages for additional documentation.

		  build debian packages

		  clean up package build directories

		  compress files and fix symlinks in package build directories

		  fix permissions of files in package build directories

		  generate and install control file

		  install files into package build directories

		  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 and register info files

		  install init scripts into package build directories

		  install logrotate config files

		  install man pages into package build directories

		  old-style man page installer

		  install debian menu files into package build directories

		  install mime files into package build directories

		  register modules with modutils

		  install pam support files

		  register a window manager

		  install xaw wrappers config files into package build directories

		  register X fonts

		  create symlinks in package build directories

		  list binary packages debhelper will act on

		  automatically create shlibs file

		  generate DEBIAN/md5sums file

		  move files out of debian/tmp into subpackages

		  calculates perl scripts & modules dependencies

		  calculate shared library dependancies

		  strip executables, shared libraries, and some static

		  obsolete suid registration program

		  test directory before building debian package

		  ensure that a package is built as root

		  ensure that the correct version of debhelper is installed

		  make symlinks to undocumented.7.gz man 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/package.foo (where "package"
 of course, is replaced with the package that is being acted on).

       For example, dh_installdocs uses files named debian/package.docs 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.

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

       In some rare cases, you may want to have different versions of these
       files for different architectures. If files named debian/package.foo.arch
 exist, where "arch" is the same as the output of "dpkg
       --print-architecture", 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 '*') in the files.


       The following command line options are supported by all debhelper programs.

       -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 all architecture dependent packages.

       -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 packages.

       -s, --same-arch
	   This is a smarter version of the -a flag, that is used in some rare
	   circumstances. It understands that if the control file lists
	   "Architecture: i386" for the package, the package should not be
	   acted on on other architectures. So this flag makes the command act
	   on all "Architecture: any" packages, as well as on any packages
	   that have the current architecture explicitly specified.  Contrast
	   to the -a flag, which makes the command work on all packages that
	   are not architecture independant.

       -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.

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


       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.

NOTES    [Toc]    [Back]

       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.

       See /usr/share/doc/debhelper/examples/rules.multi for an example of how
       to use this in a package that generates multiple binary packages.

       Automatic generation of debian install scripts    [Toc]    [Back]

       Some debhelper commands will automatically generate parts of debian
       install scripts. If you want these automatically generated things
       included in your debian install 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

       All scripts 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.    [Toc]    [Back]

       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    [Toc]    [Back]

       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    [Toc]    [Back]

       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 compatability
       levels was introduced. You tell debhelper which compatability level it
       should use, and it modifies its behavior in various ways.

       You tell debhelper what compatability level to use by writing a number
       to debian/compat. For example, to turn on V4 mode:

	 % echo 4 > debian/compat

       These are the available compatablity levels:

       V1  This is the original debhelper compatability 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.

       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.

       V4  This is the reccommended mode of operation. It does everything V3
	   does, plus:

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

	   -	   dh_installinit uses the new invoke-rc.d program in its generated
 maintainer scripts. (This may later be rolled back
		   into V3).

	   -	   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.

       Doc directory symlinks    [Toc]    [Back]

       Sometimes it is useful to make a package not contain a
       /usr/share/doc/package directory at all, instead placing just a dangling
 symlink in the binary package, that points to some other doc
       directory. Policy says this is ok if your package depends on the package
 whose doc directory it uses. To accomplish this, just don't tell
       debhelper to install any documentation files into the package, and use
       dh_link to set up the symlink (or do it by hand), and debhelper should
       do the right thing: notice it is a dangling symlink and not try to
       install a copyright file or changelog.

       Other notes    [Toc]    [Back]

       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/lib/menu/ before installing
       the menu files, etc.

       If you are generating a debian package that has arch-indep and archdependent
 portions, and you are using dh_movefiles to move the archindep
 files out of debian/tmp, you need to make sure that dh_movefiles
       does this even if only the arch-dependent package is being built (for
       ports to other architectures). I handle this in the example rules file
       "rules.multi" by calling dh_movefiles in the install target.

       Once your package uses debhelper to build, be sure to add debhelper to
       your Build-Depends line in debian/control.

ENVIRONMENT    [Toc]    [Back]

	   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. This is useful in some situations,
 for example, if you need to pass -p to all debhelper commands
 that will be run. If you use DH_OPTIONS, be sure to build
	   depend on "debhelper >= 1.1.17" -- older debhelpers will ignore it
	   and do things you don't want them to. One very 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

SEE ALSO    [Toc]    [Back]

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

	   Debhelper web site.

AUTHOR    [Toc]    [Back]

       Joey Hess <joeyh@debian.org>

3rd Berkeley Distribution	  2002-04-11			  DEBHELPER(1)
[ Back ]
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