debhelper-compat-upgrade-checklist(7) — Linux manual page


debhelper(7)                    Debhelper                   debhelper(7)

NAME         top

       debhelper-compat-upgrade-checklist - Upgrade checklist for
       supported debhelper compat levels

SYNOPSIS         top

       This document is an upgrade checklist of all the supported
       debhelper compat levels. It also lists all the support debhelper
       compat levels.

       Information about how to declare the compat level is in
       "COMPATIBILITY LEVELS" in debhelper(7).

       If you are upgrading from a (now) obsolete compat level, then
       please refer to debhelper-obsolete-compat(7).

DESCRIPTION         top

   Upgrade checklist for supported compatibility levels
       These are the available compatibility levels:

       v15 This compatibility level is still open for development; use
           with caution.

           Changes from v14 are:

           -       The dh_auto_install tool no longer defaults to
                   --destdir=debian/package for source packages only
                   producing a single binary.  If this behaviour is
                   wanted, the package should explicitly activate the
                   single-binary dh addon (e.g., by adding dh-sequence-
                   single-binary to Build-Depends) or pass --destdir to

                   The rationale for this change is to avoid "surprises"
                   when adding a second binary package later.
                   Previously, debhelper would silently change behaviour
                   often resulting in empty binary packages being
                   uploaded to the archive by mistake. With the new
                   behaviour, the single-binary addon will detect the
                   mismatch and warn the maintainer of what is about to

       v14 This compatibility level is still open for development; use
           with caution.

           Changes from v13 are:

           -       The cmake buildsystem now passes
                   -DCMAKE_BUILD_RPATH_USE_ORIGIN=ON to cmake(1) to
                   avoid some reproducibility issues.

           -       The tool dh_installsysusers is now included in the
                   default sequence. This helper tool will process
                   systemd sysusers files.

           -       Use of the dh_gconf command in override and hook
                   targets now causes an error.  The dh_gconf command
                   has been a no-op for years and was removed in
                   debhelper 13.4.

           -       The dh sequencer will warn if the single-binary addon
                   is implicitly activated to warn maintainers of the
                   pending compat 15 change in dh_auto_install.

                   Maintainers are urged to either explicitly activate
                   the single-binary addon to preserve the existing
                   behaviour (e.g., by adding dh-sequence-single-binary
                   to Build-Depends), or explicitly passing --destdir to
                   dh_auto_install if used and then passing --without
                   single-binary to dh (the latter to silence the

                   The rationale for this change is to avoid "surprises"
                   when adding a second binary package later.
                   Previously, debhelper would silently change behaviour
                   often resulting in empty binary packages being
                   uploaded to the archive by mistake. With the new
                   behaviour, the single-binary addon will detect the
                   mismatch and warn the maintainer of what is about to

           -       The dh_installalternatives tool will now be run after
                   dh_link rather than after dh_installinitramfs in the
                   default dh sequence.

           -       The dh_installpam tool will now install PAM
                   configuration files under /usr/lib/pam.d/package
                   instead of /etc/pam.d/package.

                   Please consider using the "rm_conffile" feature from
                   dh_installdeb(1) to ensure the proper removal of
                   previous PAM files.

           -       The meson+ninja and cmake build systems now use meson
                   install and cmake --install, respectively, instead of
                   ninja install and make install in the
                   dh_auto_install(1) call.  Any override of
                   dh_auto_install that passes extra parameters to the
                   upstream build system should be reviewed.

       v13 This is the recommended mode of operation.

           Changes from v12 are:

           -       The meson+ninja build system now uses meson test
                   instead of ninja test when running the test suite.
                   Any override of dh_auto_test that passes extra
                   parameters to upstream test runner should be reviewed
                   as meson test is not command line compatible with
                   ninja test.

           -       All debhelper like tools based on the official
                   debhelper library (including dh and the official dh_*
                   tools) no longer accepts abbreviated command
                   parameters.  At the same time, dh now optimizes out
                   calls to redundant dh_* helpers even when passed long
                   command line options.

           -       The ELF related debhelper tools (dh_dwz, dh_strip,
                   dh_makeshlibs, dh_shlibdeps) are now only run for
                   arch dependent packages by default (i.e. they are
                   excluded from *-indep targets and are passed -a by
                   default). If you need them for *-indep targets, you
                   can add an explicit Build-Depends on dh-sequence-elf-

           -       The third-party gradle build system (from gradle-
                   debian-helper package) now runs the upstream-provided
                   test suite automatically.  To suppress such behavior,
                   override dh_auto_test.

           -       The dh_installman tool now aborts if it sees
                   conflicting definitions of a manpage.  This typically
                   happens if the upstream build system is installing a
                   compressed version and the package lists an
                   uncompressed version of the manpage in
                   debian/package.manpages.  Often the easiest fix is to
                   remove the manpage from debian/package.manpages
                   (assuming both versions are identical).

           -       The dh_auto_* helpers now reset the environment
                   variables HOME and common XDG_* variable.  Please see
                   description of the environment variables in
                   "ENVIRONMENT" for how this is handled.

                   This feature changed between debhelper 13 and
                   debhelper 13.2.

           -       The dh command will now error if an override or hook
                   target for an obsolete command are present in
                   debian/rules (e.g. override_dh_systemd_enable:).

           -       The dh_missing command will now default to
                   --fail-missing.  This can be reverted to a non-fatal
                   warning by explicitly passing --list-missing like it
                   was in compat 12.

                   If you do not want the warning either, please omit
                   the call to dh_missing.  If you use the dh command
                   sequencer, then you can do this by inserting an empty
                   override target in the debian/rules file of the
                   relevant package.  As an example:

                       # Disable dh_missing

           -       The dh command sequencer now runs dh_installtmpfiles
                   in the default sequence.  The dh_installtmpfiles
                   takes over handling of tmpfiles.d configuration
                   files.  Related functionality in dh_installsystemd is
                   now disabled.

                   Note that dh_installtmpfiles responds to
                   debian/package.tmpfiles where dh_installsystemd used
                   a name without the trailing "s".

           -       Many dh_* tools now support limited variable
                   expansion via the ${foo} syntax.  In many cases, this
                   can be used to reference paths that contain either
                   spaces or dpkg-architecture(1) values.  While this
                   can reduce the need for dh-exec(1) in some cases, it
                   is not a replacement dh-exec(1) in general.  If you
                   need filtering, renaming, etc., the package will
                   still need dh-exec(1).

                   Please see "Substitutions in debhelper config files"
                   for syntax and available substitution variables.  To
                   dh_* tool writers, substitution expansion occurs as a
                   part of the filearray and filedoublearray functions.

           -       The dh command sequencer will now skip all hook and
                   override targets for dh_auto_test, dh_dwz and
                   dh_strip when DEB_BUILD_OPTIONS lists the relevant
                   nocheck / nostrip options.

                   Any package relying on these targets to always be run
                   should instead move relevant logic out of those
                   targets.  E.g. non-test related packaging code from
                   override_dh_auto_test would have to be moved to
                   execute_after_dh_auto_build or

           -       The cmake buildsystem now passes
                   -DCMAKE_SKIP_INSTALL_ALL_DEPENDENCY=ON to cmake(1) to
                   speed up automatic installation process. If for some
                   reason you need previous behavior, override the flag:

                       dh_auto_configure -- -DCMAKE_SKIP_INSTALL_ALL_DEPENDENCY=OFF ...

       v12 Changes from v11 are:

           -       The dh_makeshlibs tool now generates shlibs files
                   with versioned dependency by default.  This means
                   that -VUpstream-Version (a.k.a. -V) is now the

                   If an unversioned dependency in the shlibs file is
                   wanted, this can be obtained by passing -VNone
                   instead.  However, please see dh_makeshlibs(1) for
                   the caveat of unversioned dependencies.

           -       The -s (--same-arch) option is removed.  Please use
                   -a (--arch) instead.

           -       Invoking dh_clean -k now causes an error instead of a
                   deprecation warning.

           -       The --no-restart-on-upgrade option in dh_installinit
                   has been removed.  Please use the new name

           -       There was a bug in the doit (and similar) functions
                   from Debian::Debhelper::Dh_Lib that made them spawn a
                   shell in one particular circumstance.  This bug is
                   now removed and will cause helpers that rely on the
                   bug to fail with a "command not found"-error.

           -       The --list-missing and --fail-missing in dh_install
                   has been removed.  Please use dh_missing and its
                   corresponding options, which can also see the files
                   installed by other helpers.

           -       The dh_installinit helper no longer installs
                   configuration for the upstart init system.  Instead,
                   it will abort the build if it finds an old upstart
                   configuration file.  The error is there to remind the
                   package maintainer to ensure the proper removal of
                   the conffiles shipped in previous versions of the
                   package (if any).

           -       The dh_installdeb tool will do basic validation of
                   some dpkg-maintscript-helper(1) commands and will
                   error out if the commands appear to be invalid.

           -       The dh_missing tool will now default to

           -       The dh_makeshlibs tool will now only pass libraries
                   to dpkg-gensymbols(1) if the ELF binary has a SONAME
                   (containing ".so").

           -       The dh_compress tool no longer compresses examples
                   (i.e. anything installed in

           -       The standard sequence in dh now includes dh_dwz and
                   dh_installinitramfs by default.  This makes the dwz
                   and installinitramfs sequences obsolete and they will
                   now fail with an error.  If you want to skip these
                   commands, then please insert an empty override target
                   for them in debian/rules (e.g. override_dh_dwz:)

           -       The build systems meson and autoconf no longer
                   explicitly set the --libexecdir variable and thus
                   relies on the build system default - which should be
                   /usr/libexec (per FHS 3.0, adopted in Debian Policy

                   If a particular upstream package does not use the
                   correct default, the parameter can often be passed
                   manually via dh_auto_configure(1).  E.g.  via the
                   following example:

                           dh_auto_configure -- --libexecdir=/usr/libexec

                   Note the -- before the --libexecdir parameter.

           -       Retroactively removed in debhelper/13.5:

                   The dh_installdeb tool would no longer installs the
                   maintainer provided conffiles file as it was deemed
                   unnecessary.  However, the remove-on-upgrade from
                   dpkg/1.20 made the file relevant again and
                   dh_installdeb now installs it again in compat levels

           -       The dh_installsystemd tool no longer relies on
                   dh_installinit for handling systemd services that
                   have a sysvinit alternative.  Both tools must now be
                   used in such a case to ensure the service is properly
                   started under both sysvinit and systemd.

                   If you have an override for dh_installinit (e.g. to
                   call it with --no-start) then you will probably need
                   one for dh_installsystemd as well now.

                   This change makes dh_installinit inject a
                   misc:Pre-Depends for init-system-helpers (>= 1.54~).
                   Please ensure that the package lists
                   ${misc:Pre-Depends} in its Pre-Depends field before
                   upgrading to compat 12.

           -       The third-party dh_golang tool (from dh-golang
                   package) now defaults on honoring DH_GOLANG_EXCLUDES
                   variable for source installation in -dev packages and
                   not only during the building process. Please set
                   DH_GOLANG_EXCLUDES_ALL to false to revert to the
                   previous behaviour. See
                   Debian::Debhelper::Buildsystem::golang(3pm) for
                   details and examples.

           -       dh_installsystemduser is now included in the dh
                   standard sequence by default.

           -       The python-distutils buildsystem is now removed.
                   Please use the third-party build system pybuild

       v11 This mode is discouraged.

           The compat 11 is discouraged for new packages as it suffers
           from feature interaction between dh_installinit and
           dh_installsystemd causing services to not run correctly in
           some cases.  Please consider using compatibility mode 10 or
           12 instead.  More details about the issue are available in
           Debian#887904 and

           Changes from v10 are:

           -       dh_installinit no longer installs service or tmpfile
                   files, nor generates maintainer scripts for those
                   files.  Please use the new dh_installsystemd helper.

           -       The dh_systemd_enable and dh_systemd_start helpers
                   have been replaced by the new dh_installsystemd
                   helper.  For the same reason, the systemd sequence
                   for dh has also been removed.  If you need to disable
                   the dh_installsystemd helper tool, please use an
                   empty override target.

                   Please note that the dh_installsystemd tool has a
                   slightly different behaviour in some cases (e.g. when
                   using the --name parameter).

           -       dh_installdirs no longer creates debian/package
                   directories unless explicitly requested (or it has to
                   create a subdirectory in it).

                   The vast majority of all packages will be unaffected
                   by this change.

           -       The makefile buildsystem now passes INSTALL="install
                   --strip-program=true" to make(1).  Derivative
                   buildsystems (e.g. configure or cmake) are unaffected
                   by this change.

           -       The autoconf buildsystem now passes
                   --runstatedir=/run to ./configure.

           -       The cmake buildsystem now passes
                   -DCMAKE_INSTALL_RUNSTATEDIR=/run to cmake(1).

           -       dh_installman will now prefer detecting the language
                   from the path name rather than the extension.

           -       dh_auto_install will now only create the destination
                   directory it needs.  Previously, it would create the
                   package build directory for all packages.  This will
                   not affect packages that only build with debhelper
                   commands, but it may expose bugs in commands not
                   included in debhelper.

           -       The helpers dh_installdocs, dh_installexamples,
                   dh_installinfo, and dh_installman now error out if
                   their config has a pattern that does not match
                   anything or reference a path that does not exist.

                   Known exceptions include building with the nodoc
                   profile, where the above tools will silently permit
                   failed matches where the patterns are used to specify

           -       The helpers dh_installdocs, dh_installexamples,
                   dh_installinfo, and dh_installman now accept the
                   parameter --sourcedir with same meaning as
                   dh_install. Furthermore, they now also fall back to
                   debian/tmp like dh_install.

                   Migration note: A bug in debhelper 11 up to 11.1.5
                   made dh_installinfo incorrectly ignore --sourcedir.

           -       The perl-makemaker and perl-build build systems no
                   longer pass -I. to perl.  Packages that still need
                   this behaviour can emulate it by using the PERL5LIB
                   environment variable.  E.g. by adding export
                   PERL5LIB=. in their debian/rules file (or similar).

           -       The PERL_USE_UNSAFE_INC environment variable is no
                   longer set by dh or any of the dh_auto_* tools.  It
                   was added as a temporary work around to avoid a lot
                   of packages failing to build at the same time.

                   Note this item will eventually become obsolete as
                   upstream intends to drop support for the
                   PERL_USE_UNSAFE_INC environment variable.  When perl
                   drops support for it, then this variable will be
                   removed retroactively from existing compat levels as

           -       The dh_makeshlibs helper will now exit with an error
                   if objdump returns a non-zero exit from analysing a
                   given file.

           -       The dh_installdocs and dh_installexamples tools may
                   now install most of the documentation in a different
                   path to comply with the recommendation from Debian
                   policy §12.3 (since version 3.9.7).

                   Note that if a given source package only contains a
                   single binary package in debian/control or none of
                   the packages are -doc packages, then this change is
                   not relevant for that source package and you can skip
                   to the next change.

                   By default, these tools will now attempt to determine
                   a "main package for the documentation" (called a doc-
                   main-package from here on) for every -doc package.
                   If they find such a doc-main-package, they will now
                   install the documentation into the path
                   /usr/share/doc/doc-main-package in the given doc
                   package.  I.e. the path can change but the
                   documentation is still shipped in the -doc package.

                   The --doc-main-package option can be used when the
                   auto-detection is insufficient or to reset the path
                   to its previous value if there is a reason to diverge
                   from Debian policy recommendation.

                   Some documentation will not be affected by this
                   change.  These exceptions include the copyright file,
                   changelog files, README.Debian, etc.  These files
                   will still be installed in the path

           -       The dh_strip and dh_shlibdeps tools no longer uses
                   filename patterns to determine which files to
                   process.  Instead, they open the file and look for an
                   ELF header to determine if a given file is an shared
                   object or an ELF executable.

                   This change may cause the tools to process more files
                   than previously.

       v10 Changes from v9 are:

           -       dh_installinit will no longer installs a file named
                   debian/package as an init script.

           -       dh_installdocs will error out if it detects links
                   created with --link-doc between packages of
                   architecture "all" and non-"all" as it breaks

           -       dh_installdeb no longer installs a maintainer-
                   provided debian/package.shlibs file.  This is now
                   done by dh_makeshlibs instead.

           -       dh_installwm refuses to create a broken package if no
                   man page can be found (required to register for the
                   x-window-manager alternative).

           -       Debhelper will default to --parallel for all
                   buildsystems that support parallel building.  This
                   can be disabled by using either --no-parallel or
                   passing --max-parallel with a value of 1.

           -       The dh command will not accept any of the deprecated
                   "manual sequence control" parameters (--before,
                   --after, etc.).  Please use override targets instead.

                   Retroactively applied to earlier compat levels: dh no
                   longer accepts any of these since debhelper/12.4.

           -       The dh command will no longer use log files to track
                   which commands have been run.  The dh command still
                   keeps track of whether it already ran the "build"
                   sequence and skip it if it did.

                   The main effects of this are:

                   -   With this, it is now easier to debug the install
                       or/and binary sequences because they can now
                       trivially be re-run (without having to do a full
                       "clean and rebuild" cycle)

                   -   The main caveat is that dh_* now only keeps track
                       of what happened in a single override target.
                       When all the calls to a given dh_cmd command
                       happens in the same override target everything
                       will work as before.

                       Example of where it can go wrong:

                           dh_foo -pmy-pkg

                           dh_foo --remaining

                       In this case, the call to dh_foo --remaining will
                       also include my-pkg, since dh_foo -pmy-pkg was
                       run in a separate override target.  This issue is
                       not limited to --remaining, but also includes -a,
                       -i, etc.

           -       The dh_installdeb command now shell-escapes the lines
                   in the maintscript config file.  This was the
                   original intent but it did not work properly and
                   packages have begun to rely on the incomplete shell
                   escaping (e.g. quoting file names).

           -       The dh_installinit command now defaults to
                   --restart-after-upgrade.  For packages needing the
                   previous behaviour, please use

           -       The autoreconf sequence is now enabled by default.
                   Please pass --without autoreconf to dh if this is not
                   desirable for a given package

           -       The systemd sequence is now enabled by default.
                   Please pass --without systemd to dh if this is not
                   desirable for a given package.

           -       Retroactively removed: dh no longer creates the
                   package build directory when skipping running
                   debhelper commands. This will not affect packages
                   that only build with debhelper commands, but it may
                   expose bugs in commands not included in debhelper.

                   This compatibility feature had a bug since its
                   inception in debhelper/9.20130516 that made it fail
                   to apply in compat 9 and earlier.  As there has been
                   no reports of issues caused by this bug in those ~5
                   years, this item have been removed rather than fixed.

       v9  Changes from v8 are:

           -       Multiarch support. In particular, dh_auto_configure
                   passes multiarch directories to autoconf in --libdir
                   and --libexecdir.

           -       dh is aware of the usual dependencies between targets
                   in debian/rules.  So, "dh binary" will run any build,
                   build-arch, build-indep, install, etc targets that
                   exist in the rules file. There's no need to define an
                   explicit binary target with explicit dependencies on
                   the other targets.

           -       dh_strip compresses debugging symbol files to reduce
                   the installed size of -dbg packages.

           -       dh_auto_configure does not include the source package
                   name in --libexecdir when using autoconf.

           -       dh does not default to enabling --with=python-support

                   (Obsolete: As the dh_pysupport tool was removed from
                   Debian stretch.  Since debhelper/10.3, dh no longer
                   enables this sequence add-on regardless of compat

           -       All of the dh_auto_* debhelper programs and dh set
                   environment variables listed by dpkg-buildflags,
                   unless they are already set.

           -       dh_auto_configure passes dpkg-buildflags CFLAGS,
                   CPPFLAGS, and LDFLAGS to perl Makefile.PL and

           -       dh_strip puts separated debug symbols in a location
                   based on their build-id.

           -       Executable debhelper config files are run and their
                   output used as the configuration.

           This mode is deprecated.

       v8  Changes from v7 are:

           -       Commands will fail rather than warning when they are
                   passed unknown options.

           -       dh_makeshlibs will run dpkg-gensymbols on all shared
                   libraries that it generates shlibs files for. So -X
                   can be used to exclude libraries.  Also, libraries in
                   unusual locations that dpkg-gensymbols would not have
                   processed before will be passed to it, a behavior
                   change that can cause some packages to fail to build.

           -       dh requires the sequence to run be specified as the
                   first parameter, and any switches come after it. Ie,
                   use "dh $@ --foo", not "dh --foo $@".

           -       dh_auto_* prefer to use Perl's Module::Build in
                   preference to Makefile.PL.

           This mode is deprecated.

       v7  This mode is deprecated.

           This is the lowest supported compatibility level.

           If you are upgrading from an earlier compatibility level,
           please review debhelper-obsolete-compat(7).

SEE ALSO         top

           Upgrading from a (now) obsolete compatibility level? This
           document covers the upgrade checklist up to the earliest
           supported level.

           General information about the debhelper framework. This
           document also covers how to declare your chosen debhelper
           compat level.

AUTHORS         top

       Niels Thykier <>

       Joey Hess

COLOPHON         top

       This page is part of the debhelper (helper programs for
       debian/rules) project.  Information about the project can be
       found at [unknown -- if you know, please contact man-] If you have a bug report for this manual page,
       send it to  This page was obtained from
       the project's upstream Git repository
       ⟨⟩ on 2023-06-23.
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13.11.5~2.gbp4a55fa            2023-06-22                   debhelper(7)

Pages that refer to this page: debhelper(7)