deb-control(5) Debian deb-control(5)
deb-control - Debian packages' master control file format
Each Debian package contains the master `control' file, which contains a number of fields,
or comments when the line starts with '#'. Each field begins with a tag, such as Package
or Version (case insensitive), followed by a colon, and the body of the field. Fields are
delimited only by field tags. In other words, field text may be multiple lines in length,
but the installation tools will generally join lines when processing the body of the field
(except in the case of the Description field, see below).
Package: <package name>
The value of this field determines the package name, and is used to generate file
names by most installation tools.
Version: <version string>
Typically, this is the original package's version number in whatever form the pro-
gram's author uses. It may also include a Debian revision number (for non-native
packages). The exact format and sorting algorithm are described in deb-version(5).
Maintainer: <fullname email>
Should be in the format `Joe Bloggs <firstname.lastname@example.org>', and is typically the person
who created the package, as opposed to the author of the software that was pack-
Description: <short description>
The format for the package description is a short brief summary on the first line
(after the "Description" field). The following lines should be used as a longer,
more detailed description. Each line of the long description must be preceded by a
space, and blank lines in the long description must contain a single '.' following
the preceding space.
This is a general field that gives the package a category based on the software
that it installs. Some common sections are `utils', `net', `mail', `text', `x11'
Sets the importance of this package in relation to the system as a whole. Common
priorities are `required', `standard', `optional', `extra' etc.
In Debian, the Section and Priority fields have a defined set of accepted values based on
the Policy Manual. A list of these values can be obtained from the latest version of the
This field is usually only needed when the answer is `yes'. It denotes a package
that is required for proper operation of the system. Dpkg or any other installation
tool will not allow an Essential package to be removed (at least not without using
one of the force options).
The architecture specifies which type of hardware this package was compiled for.
Common architectures are `i386', `m68k', `sparc', `alpha', `powerpc' etc. Note that
the all option is meant for packages that are architecture independent. Some exam-
ples of this are shell and Perl scripts, and documentation.
The name of the distribution this package is originating from.
The url of the bug tracking system for this package. The current used format is
<bts_type>://<bts_address>, like debbugs://bugs.debian.org.
The upstream project home page URL.
Tag: <tag list>
List of tags describing the qualities of the package. The description and list of
supported tags can be found in the debtags package.
This field is used to indicate how this package should behave on a multi-arch
installations. The value `same' means that the package is co-installable with
itself, but it must not be used to satisfy the dependency of any package of a dif-
ferent architecture from itself. The value `foreign' means that the package is not
co-installable with itself, but should be allowed to satisfy the dependency of a
package of a different arch from itself. The value `allowed` allows reverse-depen-
dencies to indicate in their Depends field that they need a package from a foreign
architecture, but has no effect otherwise. This field should not be present in
packages with the Architecture: all field.
Source: <source name>
The name of the source package that this binary package came from, if different
than the name of the package itself.
These fields are used by the debian-installer and are usually not needed. See
/usr/share/doc/debian-installer/devel/modules.txt from the debian-installer package
for more details about them.
Depends: <package list>
List of packages that are required for this package to provide a non-trivial amount
of functionality. The package maintenance software will not allow a package to be
installed if the packages listed in its Depends field aren't installed (at least
not without using the force options). In an installation, the postinst scripts of
packages listed in Depends: fields are run before those of the packages which
depend on them. On the opposite, in a removal, the prerm script of a package is run
before those of the packages listed in its Depends: field.
Pre-Depends: <package list>
List of packages that must be installed and configured before this one can be
installed. This is usually used in the case where this package requires another
package for running its preinst script.
Recommends: <package list>
Lists packages that would be found together with this one in all but unusual
installations. The package maintenance software will warn the user if they install
a package without those listed in its Recommends field.
Suggests: <package list>
Lists packages that are related to this one and can perhaps enhance its usefulness,
but without which installing this package is perfectly reasonable.
The syntax of Depends, Pre-Depends, Recommends and Suggests fields is a list of groups of
alternative packages. Each group is a list of packages separated by vertical bar (or
`pipe') symbols, `|'. The groups are separated by commas. Commas are to be read as `AND',
and pipes as `OR', with pipes binding more tightly. Each package name is optionally fol-
lowed by a version number specification in parentheses.
A version number may start with a `>>', in which case any later version will match, and
may specify or omit the Debian packaging revision (separated by a hyphen). Accepted ver-
sion relationships are ">>" for greater than, "<<" for less than, ">=" for greater than or
equal to, "<=" for less than or equal to, and "=" for equal to.
Breaks: <package list>
Lists packages that this one breaks, for example by exposing bugs when the named
packages rely on this one. The package maintenance software will not allow broken
packages to be configured; generally the resolution is to upgrade the packages
named in a Breaks field.
Conflicts: <package list>
Lists packages that conflict with this one, for example by containing files with
the same names. The package maintenance software will not allow conflicting pack-
ages to be installed at the same time. Two conflicting packages should each include
a Conflicts line mentioning the other.
Replaces: <package list>
List of packages files from which this one replaces. This is used for allowing this
package to overwrite the files of another package and is usually used with the Con-
flicts field to force removal of the other package, if this one also has the same
files as the conflicted package.
Provides: <package list>
This is a list of virtual packages that this one provides. Usually this is used in
the case of several packages all providing the same service. For example, sendmail
and exim can serve as a mail server, so they provide a common package (`mail-trans-
port-agent') on which other packages can depend. This will allow sendmail or exim
to serve as a valid option to satisfy the dependency. This prevents the packages
that depend on a mail server from having to know the package names for all of them,
and using `|' to separate the list.
The syntax of Breaks, Conflicts, Replaces and Provides is a list of package names, sepa-
rated by commas (and optional whitespace). In the Breaks and Conflicts fields, the comma
should be read as `OR'. An optional version can also be given with the same syntax as
above for the Breaks, Conflicts and Replaces fields.
Built-Using: <package list>
This field lists extra source packages that were used during the build of this
binary package. This is an indication to the archive maintenance software that
these extra source packages must be kept whilst this binary package is maintained.
This field must be a list of source package names with strict (=) version relation-
ships. Note that the archive maintenance software is likely to refuse to accept an
upload which declares a Built-Using relationship which cannot be satisfied within
Maintainer: Wichert Akkerman <email@example.com>
Pre-Depends: libc6 (>= 2.0.105)
Description: GNU grep, egrep and fgrep.
The GNU family of grep utilities may be the "fastest grep in the west".
GNU grep is based on a fast lazy-state deterministic matcher (about
twice as fast as stock Unix egrep) hybridized with a Boyer-Moore-Gosper
search for a fixed string that eliminates impossible text from being
considered by the full regexp matcher without necessarily having to
look at every character. The result is typically many times faster
than Unix grep or egrep. (Regular expressions containing backreferencing
will run more slowly, however).
deb(5), deb-version(5), debtags(1), dpkg(1), dpkg-deb(1).
Debian Project 2010-07-29 deb-control(5)