deb(5) Debian deb(5)
deb - Debian binary package format
The .deb format is the Debian binary package file format. It is understood by dpkg 0.93.76
and later, and is generated by default by all versions of dpkg since 1.2.0 and all
i386/ELF versions since 1.1.1elf.
The format described here is used since Debian 0.93; details of the old format are
described in deb-old(5).
The file is an ar archive with a magic value of !<arch>. The file names might contain a
The tar archives currently allowed are, the old-style (v7) format, the pre-POSIX ustar
format, a subset of the GNU format (only the new style long pathnames and long linknames,
supported since dpkg 126.96.36.199), and the POSIX ustar format (long names supported since
dpkg 1.15.0). Unrecognized tar typeflags are considered an error.
The first member is named debian-binary and contains a series of lines, separated by new-
lines. Currently only one line is present, the format version number, 2.0 at the time this
manual page was written. Programs which read new-format archives should be prepared for
the minor number to be increased and new lines to be present, and should ignore these if
this is the case.
If the major number has changed, an incompatible change has been made and the program
should stop. If it has not, then the program should be able to safely continue, unless it
encounters an unexpected member in the archive (except at the end), as described below.
The second required member is named control.tar.gz. It is a gzipped tar archive contain-
ing the package control information, as a series of plain files, of which the file control
is mandatory and contains the core control information. The control tarball may optionally
contain an entry for `.', the current directory.
The third, last required member is named data.tar. It contains the filesystem as a tar
archive, either not compressed (supported since dpkg 1.10.24), or compressed with gzip
(with .gz extension), xz (with .xz extension, supported since dpkg 1.15.6), bzip2 (with
.bz2 extension, supported since dpkg 1.10.24) or lzma (with .lzma extension, supported
since dpkg 1.13.25).
These members must occur in this exact order. Current implementations should ignore any
additional members after data.tar. Further members may be defined in the future, and (if
possible) will be placed after these three. Any additional members that may need to be
inserted before data.tar and which should be safely ignored by older programs, will have
names starting with an underscore, `_'.
Those new members which won't be able to be safely ignored will be inserted before
data.tar with names starting with something other than underscores, or will (more likely)
cause the major version number to be increased.
deb-old(5), dpkg-deb(1), deb-control(5).
Debian Project 2009-02-27 deb(5)