deb-control(5) — Linux manual page


deb-control(5)                   dpkg suite                   deb-control(5)

NAME         top

       deb-control - Debian binary packages' master control file format

SYNOPSIS         top


DESCRIPTION         top

       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

FIELDS         top

       Package: package-name (required)
              The value of this field determines the package name, and is
              used to generate file names by most installation tools.

       Package-Type: deb|udeb|type
              This field defines the type of the package.  udeb is for size-
              constrained packages used by the debian installer.  deb is the
              default value, it is assumed if the field is absent.  More
              types might be added in the future.

       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(7).

       Maintainer: fullname-email (recommended)
              Should be in the format “Joe Bloggs <>”, 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.

       Section: section
              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.

       Priority: priority
              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.

       Installed-Size: size
              The approximate total size of the package's installed files,
              in KiB units.

       Essential: yes|no
              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).

       Build-Essential: yes|no
              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.

       Origin: name
              The name of the distribution this package is originating from.

       Bugs: url
              The url of the bug tracking system for this package. The
              current used format is bts-type://bts-address, like

       Homepage: url
              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.

       Multi-Arch: no|same|foreign|allowed
              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: value
       Kernel-Version: value
       Installer-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.

       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 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.

       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 packages 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 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

       Enhances: package-list
              This is a list of packages that this one enhances.  It is
              similar to Suggests but in the opposite direction.

       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-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).

       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 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.

       Built-For-Profiles: profile-list (obsolete)
              This field used to specify a whitespace separated list of
              build profiles that this binary packages was built with (since
              dpkg 1.17.2 until 1.18.18).  The information previously found
              in this field can now be found in the .buildinfo file, which
              supersedes it.

       Auto-Built-Package: reason-list
              This field specifies a whitespace separated list of reasons
              why this package was auto-generated.  Binary packages marked
              with this field will not appear in the debian/control master
              source control file.  The only currently used reason is

       Build-Ids: elf-build-id-list
              This field specifies a whitespace separated list of ELF build-
              ids. These are unique identifiers for semantically identical
              ELF objects, for each of these within the package.  The format
              or the way to compute each build-id is not defined by design.

EXAMPLE         top

       Package: grep
       Essential: yes
       Priority: required
       Section: base
       Maintainer: Wichert Akkerman <>
       Architecture: sparc
       Version: 2.4-1
       Pre-Depends: libc6 (>= 2.0.105)
       Provides: rgrep
       Conflicts: rgrep
       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).

BUGS         top

       The Build-Ids field uses a rather generic name out of its original
       context within an ELF object, which serves a very specific purpose
       and executable format.

SEE ALSO         top

       deb-src-control(5), deb(5), deb-version(7), debtags(1), dpkg(1),

COLOPHON         top

       This page is part of the dpkg (Debian Package Manager) project.
       Information about the project can be found at 
       ⟨⟩.  If you have a bug report for
       this manual page, see
       ⟨⟩.  This page
       was obtained from the project's upstream Git repository
       ⟨⟩ on 2020-11-01.  (At
       that time, the date of the most recent commit that was found in the
       repository was 2020-07-08.)  If you discover 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 im‐
       provements to the information in this COLOPHON (which is not part of
       the original manual page), send a mail to

1.19.6-2-g6e42d5                 2019-03-25                   deb-control(5)

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