deb (file format)
The GNOME icon for deb files
|Internet media type||
|Type of format||Package management system|
|Container for||Software package|
|Extended from||ar archive, tarball|
Debian packages are standard Unix ar archives that include two tar archives optionally compressed with gzip (zlib), Bzip2, lzma, or xz (lzma2): one archive holds the control information and another contains the installable data.
dpkg provides the basic functionality for installing and manipulating Debian packages. Generally end users don't manage packages directly with dpkg but instead use the APT package management software or other APT front-ends such as synaptic or KPackage.
Some core Debian packages are available as udebs ("micro debs"), and are typically used only for bootstrapping a Debian installation. Although these files use the udeb filename extension, they adhere to the same structure specification as ordinary deb files. However, unlike their deb counterparts, udeb packages contain only essential functional files. In particular, documentation files are normally omitted. udeb packages are not installable on a standard Debian system, but are used in Debian-Installer.
- Package Section: This contains the first file header (which includes the
debian-binarypackage identifier) and the deb package format version number. This is
2.0for current versions of Debian.
- Control Section: This contains a control archive (Usually named
control.tar.xz). This archive includes all package meta-information. It tells dpkg what to configure when the package is being installed.
- Data Section: This contains a data archive (Usually named
data.tar.xz). This archive includes the actual installable files.
Each file stored in an ar archive includes a file header to store information about the file. The common format is as follows. Numeric values are encoded in ASCII and all values right-padded with ASCII spaces (0x20).
|16||12||File modification timestamp||Decimal|
|48||10||File size in bytes||Decimal|
|58||2||Ending characters||0x60 0x0A|
Directly following a file header is the file data for the file described in the header. .deb files use three file headers, the first is used to identify the ar archive as a Debian package. This is done in the first file header by setting the file identifier to
debian-binary, then using the file data section to define the package version number. The other two file headers are to define the control and data sections.
The control archive contents can include the following files:
- control contains a brief description of the package as well as other information such as its dependencies.
- md5sums contains MD5 checksums of all files in the package in order to detect corrupt or incomplete files.
- conffiles lists the files of the package that should be treated as configuration files. Configuration files are not overwritten during an update unless specified.
- preinst, postinst, prerm and postrm are optional scripts that are executed before or after installing, updating or removing the package.
- config is an optional script that supports the debconf configuration mechanism.
- shlibs list of shared library dependencies.
Debian-based distributions support GPG signature verification of signed Debian packages, but most (if not all) have this feature disabled by default. Instead packages are verified by signing the repository metadata (i.e. Release files). The metadata files in turn include checksums for the repository files as a means to verify authenticity of the files. Currently there are two different implementations for signing individual packages. The first is done via the debsigs / debsig-verify toolset, which is supported by dpkg. The second is done through the dpkg-sig program which is not supported by dpkg, so the packages have to be manually checked with the dpkg-sig program. Both formats add new section(s) to the ar archive to store the signature information, but the formats are not compatible with one another. Neither of the modifications to the package format are listed in the official Debian handbook or man page about the binary package format.
- Debian packages are used in distributions based on Debian, such as Ubuntu and many others.
- Fink a port of dpkg and APT to Mac OS X use deb packages.
- Nexenta OS a discontinued OS based on OpenSolaris. The operating system included Debian package management software and the use of deb packages.
- Debian GNU/kFreeBSD a OS that uses a GNU based userland and the FreeBSD kernel.
- Debian GNU/Hurd
- Cydia package manager used on jailbroken iOS devices (iPhones, iPads and iPods).
- Debian FAQ: Basics of the Debian package management system
- Debreate - Debian Package Creator GUI
- .deb feature support
- Manipulating debs directly with standard utilities
- Anatomy of a Debian package video
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