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Debian package archive (.deb) manipulation tool

see also : dpkg


dpkg-deb [option...] command

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dpkg-deb --build helloworld/
dpkg-deb --build -z9 -Zlzma PackageArepa


dpkg-deb packs, unpacks and provides information about Debian archives.

Use dpkg to install and remove packages from your system.

You can also invoke dpkg-deb by calling dpkg with whatever options you want to pass to dpkg-deb. dpkg will spot that you wanted dpkg-deb and run it for you.



This option is used to specify the format of the output --show will produce. The format is a string that will be output for each package listed.

The string may reference any status field using the "${field-name}" form, a list of the valid fields can be easily produced using -I on the same package. A complete explanation of the formatting options (including escape sequences and field tabbing) can be found in the explanation of the --showformat option in dpkg-query(1).

The default for this field is "${Package}\t${Version}\n".


Specify which compression level to use on the compressor backend, when building a package (default is 9 for gzip and bzip2, 6 for xz and lzma). The accepted values are 0-9 with: 0 being mapped to compressor none for gzip and 0 mapped to 1 for bzip2. Before dpkg 1.16.2 level 0 was equivalent to compressor none for all compressors.


Specify which compression strategy to use on the compressor backend, when building a package (since dpkg 1.16.2). Allowed values are none (since dpkg 1.16.4) and extreme for xz.


Specify which compression type to use when building a package. Allowed values are gzip, xz, bzip2, lzma, and none (default is gzip).


Ensures that dpkg-deb builds a ’new’ format archive. This is the default.


Forces dpkg-deb to build an ’old’ format archive. This old archive format is less easily parsed by non-Debian tools and is now obsolete; its only use is when building packages to be parsed by versions of dpkg older than 0.93.76 (September 1995), which was released as i386 a.out only.


Inhibits dpkg-deb --build’s usual checks on the proposed contents of an archive. You can build any archive you want, no matter how broken, this way.

-v, --verbose

Enables verbose output. This currently only affects --extract making it behave like --vextract.

-D, --debug

Enables debugging output. This is not very interesting.


-b, --build directory [archive|directory]

Creates a debian archive from the filesystem tree stored in directory. directory must have a DEBIAN subdirectory, which contains the control information files such as the control file itself. This directory will not appear in the binary package’s filesystem archive, but instead the files in it will be put in the binary package’s control information area.

Unless you specify --nocheck, dpkg-deb will read DEBIAN/control and parse it. It will check it for syntax errors and other problems, and display the name of the binary package being built. dpkg-deb will also check the permissions of the maintainer scripts and other files found in the DEBIAN control information directory.

If no archive is specified then dpkg-deb will write the package into the file directory.deb.

If the archive to be created already exists it will be overwritten.

If the second argument is a directory then dpkg-deb will write to the file package_version_arch.deb, or package_version.deb if no Architecture field is present in the package control file. When a target directory is specified, rather than a file, the --nocheck option may not be used (since dpkg-deb needs to read and parse the package control file to determine which filename to use).

-I, --info archive [control-file-name...]

Provides information about a binary package archive.

If no control-file-names are specified then it will print a summary of the contents of the package as well as its control file.

If any control-file-names are specified then dpkg-deb will print them in the order they were specified; if any of the components weren’t present it will print an error message to stderr about each one and exit with status 2.

-W, --show archive

Provides information about a binary package archive in the format specified by the --showformat argument. The default format displays the package’s name and version on one line, separated by a tabulator.

-f, --field archive [control-field-name...]

Extracts control file information from a binary package archive.

If no control-file-fields are specified then it will print the whole control file.

If any are specified then dpkg-deb will print their contents, in the order in which they appear in the control file. If more than one control-file-field is specified then dpkg-deb will precede each with its field name (and a colon and space).

No errors are reported for fields requested but not found.

-c, --contents archive

Lists the contents of the filesystem tree archive portion of the package archive. It is currently produced in the format generated by tar’s verbose listing.

-x, --extract archive directory

Extracts the filesystem tree from a package archive into the specified directory.

Note that extracting a package to the root directory will not result in a correct installation! Use dpkg to install packages.

directory (but not its parents) will be created if necessary, and its permissions modified to match the contents of the package.

-X, --vextract archive directory

Is like --extract (-x) with --verbose (-v) which prints a listing of the files extracted as it goes.

-R, --raw-extract archive directory

Extracts the filesystem tree from a package archive into a specified directory, and the control information files into a DEBIAN subdirectory of the specified directory.

The target directory (but not its parents) will be created if necessary.

--fsys-tarfile archive

Extracts the filesystem tree data from a binary package and sends it to standard output in tar format. Together with tar(1) this can be used to extract a particular file from a package archive. The input archive will always be processed sequentially.

-e, --control archive [directory]

Extracts the control information files from a package archive into the specified directory.

If no directory is specified then a subdirectory DEBIAN in the current directory is used.

The target directory (but not its parents) will be created if necessary.

-?, --help

Show the usage message and exit.


Show the version and exit.



If set, dpkg-deb will use it as the directory in which to create temporary files and directories.


dpkg-deb -I package1.deb package2.deb does the wrong thing.

There is no authentication on .deb files; in fact, there isn’t even a straightforward checksum. (Higher level tools like APT support authenticating .deb packages retrieved from a given repository, and most packages nowadays provide an md5sum control file generated by debian/rules. Though this is not directly supported by the lower level tools.)

Do not attempt to use just dpkg-deb to install software! You must use dpkg proper to ensure that all the files are correctly placed and the package’s scripts run and its status and contents recorded.

see also

deb, deb-control, dpkg , dselect.

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