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Package format

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Package format is a type of archive containing computer programs and additional metadata needed by package managers;[1] an instance of this type of archive is called a package. While the archive file format itself may be unchanged, package formats carry additional metadata, such as a manifest file or certain directory layouts. Packages may contain either source code or executable files.

Packages may be converted from one type to another with software such as Alien.

Software supply chain and security[edit]

Packages are an important component in managing the security and integrity of the software supply chain. Packages containing executables and configuration can be digitally signed to establish the integrity of running software and protect against tampering.[2]

Package formats that support code signing include .deb (Debian), .msi (Microsoft Windows), .apk (Android) and .ipa (IOS, IPadOS).

Common formats[edit]

Specialized formats[edit]

Format Consumed by
AAB Android
APK (Alpine) Alpine Linux[3]
APK (Android) Android
AppImage Linux distribution-agnostic
APPX and APPXBundle Windows 8 and later, Windows Phone[4]
Bottle Homebrew
Deb Debian and its derivatives, such as Raspberry Pi OS, Kali Linux, Ubuntu, and Linux Mint[5]
ebuild Gentoo Linux[6]
eopkg Solus[7]
.ipa IOS, IPadOS
Nixpkg Nix, NixOS, Home Manager
Portage Gentoo Linux, ChromeOS[8]
Ports (BSD) pkgsrc, FreeBSD, OpenBSD[9]
Flatpak Linux distribution-agnostic
.app, .hap HarmonyOS, OpenHarmony, Oniro OS and Linux based Unity Operating System
PISI Pardus
PKG macOS, iOS, PlayStation 3, Solaris, SunOS, UNIX System V, Symbian, BeOS, Apple Newton
.pkg.tar.zst Arch Linux
PUP and PET Puppy Linux (PUP format is deprecated since version 3.0)
RPM Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora, derivatives such as CentOS,[10] and SUSE Linux Enterprise, openSUSE
Snap Linux distribution-agnostic, mainly developed for Ubuntu
Windows Installer package / MSI Windows Installer on Microsoft Windows

Generic formats[edit]

Arch Linux's Pacman[11] and Slackware[12] use 'tar' archives with generic naming but specific internal structures.


  1. ^ Justin Angelo Cappos, Stork: Secure Package Management for VM Environments[permanent dead link], ProQuest, 2008, p. 128;
  2. ^ Cooper, David; Feldman, Larry; Witte, Gregory (May 23, 2018). "Protecting Software Integrity Through Code Signing". National Institute of Standards and Technology. ITL Bulletin.
  3. ^ "Alpine package format - Alpine Linux". wiki.alpinelinux.org. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  4. ^ "App packaging". Retrieved September 29, 2014.
  5. ^ "InstallingSoftware - Community Ubuntu Documentation". Help.ubuntu.com. Retrieved April 24, 2013.
  6. ^ "ebuild". Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  7. ^ "Basics to Package Management". Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  8. ^ "Using Portage to Manage Packages in Gentoo". linode.com.
  9. ^ "Ports - Working with Ports". OpenBSD.org.
  10. ^ "rpm - Trac". Retrieved September 29, 2014.
  11. ^ "makepkg.conf(5) Manual Page".
  12. ^ "The Slackware Linux Project: Configuration Help". Retrieved September 29, 2014.