Each Debian binary package contains the master control file, which
contains a number of fields. 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
Package: package-name (required)
The value of this field determines the package name, and is
used to generate file names by most installation tools.
Version: version-string (required)
Typically, this is the original package's version number in
whatever form the program'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 (recommended)
Should be in the format “Joe Bloggs <email@example.com>”, and is
typically the person who created the package, as opposed to
the author of the software that was packaged.
Description: short-description (recommended)
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, etc.
Sets the importance of this package in relation to the system
as a whole. Common priorities are required, standard,
optional, extra, etc.
The Section and Priority fields usually have a defined set of
accepted values based on the specific distribution policy.
The approximate total size of the package's installed files,
in KiB units.
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).
This field is usually only needed when the answer is yes, and
is commonly injected by the archive software. It denotes a
package that is required when building other packages.
Architecture: arch|all (recommended)
The architecture specifies which type of hardware this package
was compiled for. Common architectures are amd64, armel,
i386, powerpc, etc. Note that the all value is meant for
packages that are architecture independent. Some examples 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
The upstream project home page url.
List of tags describing the qualities of the package. The
description and list of supported tags can be found in the
This field is used to indicate how this package should behave
on a multi-arch installations.
no This value is the default when the field is omitted, in
which case adding the field with an explicit no value
is generally not needed.
same This package is co-installable with itself, but it must
not be used to satisfy the dependency of any package of
a different architecture from itself.
This package is not co-installable with itself, but
should be allowed to satisfy a non-arch-qualified
dependency of a package of a different arch from itself
(if a dependency has an explicit arch-qualifier then
the value foreign is ignored).
This allows reverse-dependencies to indicate in their
Depends field that they accept this package from a
foreign architecture by qualifying the package name
with :any, but has no effect otherwise.
Source: source-name [(source-version)]
The name of the source package that this binary package came
from, if it is different than the name of the package itself.
If the source version differs from the binary version, then
the source-name will be followed by a source-version in
parenthesis. This can happen for example on a binary-only
non-maintainer upload, or when setting a different binary
version via «dpkg-gencontrol -v».
Subarchitecture: valueKernel-Version: valueInstaller-Menu-Item: value
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.
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.
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
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.
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 followed by an architecture qualifier appended after a
colon ‘:’, optionally followed by a version number specification in
An architecture qualifier name can be a real Debian architecture name
(since dpkg 1.16.5) or any (since dpkg 1.16.2). If omitted, the
default is the current binary package architecture. A real Debian
architecture name will match exactly that architecture for that
package name, any will match any architecture for that package name
if the package has been marked as Multi-Arch: allowed.
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 version relationships are
‘>>’ for greater than, ‘<<’ for less than, ‘>=’ for greater than or
equal to, ‘<=’ for less than or equal to, and ‘=’ for equal to.
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.
Lists packages that conflict with this one, for example by
containing files with the same names. The package maintenance
software will not allow conflicting packages to be installed
at the same time. Two conflicting packages should each include
a Conflicts line mentioning the other.
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 Conflicts field
to force removal of the other package, if this one also has
the same files as the conflicted package.
The syntax of Breaks, Conflicts and Replaces is a list of package
names, separated by commas (and optional whitespace). In the Breaks
and Conflicts fields, the comma should be read as “OR”. An optional
architecture qualifier can also be appended to the package name with
the same syntax as above, but the default is any instead of the
binary package architecture. An optional version can also be given
with the same syntax as above for the Breaks, Conflicts and Replaces
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-transport-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 Provides is a list of package names, separated by
commas (and optional whitespace). An optional architecture qualifier
can also be appended to the package name with the same syntax as
above. If omitted, the default is the current binary package
architecture. An optional exact (equal to) version can also be given
with the same syntax as above (honored since dpkg 1.17.11).
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 relationships. 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 the archive.
This field specifies a whitespace separated list of build
profiles that this binary packages was built with.
Maintainer: Wichert Akkerman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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).
This page is part of the dpkg (Debian Package Manager) project.
Information about the project can be found at
⟨https://wiki.debian.org/Teams/Dpkg/⟩. If you have a bug report for
this manual page, see
⟨http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/pkgreport.cgi?src=dpkg⟩. This page
was obtained from the project's upstream Git repository
⟨git://git.debian.org/git/dpkg/dpkg.git⟩ on 2017-03-13. If you dis‐
cover any rendering problems in this HTML version of the page, or you
believe there is a better or more up-to-date source for the page, or
you have corrections or improvements to the information in this
COLOPHON (which is not part of the original manual page), send a mail
1.18.15-3-ga2ef 1970-01-01 deb-control(5)