dpkg-deb - Debian package archive (.deb) manipulation tool


dpkg-deb -b|--build directory [archive|directory]
dpkg-deb -I
|--info archive [control-file-name ..]
dpkg-deb -f
|--field archive [control-field-name ...]
dpkg-deb -c
|--contents archive
dpkg-deb -x
|--extract|-X|--vextract archive directory
dpkg-deb --fsys-tarfile
dpkg-deb --control
archive directory


dpkg-deb packs, unpacks and provides information about Debian archives.

Use dpkg to install and remove packages from your system.

You can also invoke dpkg-deb by calling dpkg with whatever options you want to pass to dpkg-deb. dpkg will spot that you wanted dpkg-deb and run it for you.


--build, -b

Creates a debian archive from the filesystem tree stored in directory. directory must have a DEBIAN subdirectory, which contains the control information files such as the control file itself. This directory will not appear in the binary package’s filesystem archive, but instead the files in it will be put in the binary package’s control information area.

You can specify the compressionlevel used by adding a -z# option. dpkg-deb will pass that option on to gzip.

Unless you specify --nocheck, dpkg-deb will read DEBIAN/control and parse it. It will check it for syntax errors and other problems, and display the name of the binary package being built. dpkg-deb will also check the permissions of the maintainer scripts and other files found in the DEBIAN control information directory.

If no archive is specified then dpkg-deb will write the package into the file directory.deb.

If the archive to be created already exists it will be overwritten.

If the second argument is a directory then dpkg-deb will write to the file package_version_arch.deb, or package_version.deb if no Architecture field is present in the package control file. When a target directory is specified, rather than a file, the --nocheck option may not be used (since dpkg-deb needs to read and parse the package control file to determine which filename to use).

--info, -I

Provides information about a binary package archive.

If no control-file-names are specified then it will print a summary of the contents of the package as well as its control file.

If any control-file-names are specified then dpkg-deb will print them in the order they were specified; if any of the components weren’t present it will print an error message to stderr about each one and exit with status 2.

--field, -f

Extracts control file information from a binary package archive.

If no control-file-fields are specified then it will print the whole control file.

If any are specified then dpkg-deb will print their contents, in the order in which they appear in the control file. If more than one control-file-field is specified then dpkg-deb will precede each with its field name (and a colon and space).

No errors are reported for fields requested but not found.

--contents, -c

Lists the contents of the filesystem tree archive portion of the package archive. It is currently produced in the format generated by tar’s verbose listing.

--extract, -x, --vextract, -X

Extracts the filesystem tree from a package archive into the specified directory.

--vextract (-X) prints a listing of the files extracted as it goes, while --extract (-x) is silent unless an error occurs.

Note that extracting a package to the root directory will not result in a correct installation ! Use dpkg to install packages.

directory (but not its parents) will be created if necessary.


Extracts the filesystem tree data from a binary package and sends it to standard output in tar format. Together with tar(1) this can be used to extract a particular file from a package archive.

--control, -e

Extracts the control information files from a package archive into the specified directory.

If no directory is specified then a subdirectory DEBIAN in the current directory is used.

The target directory (but not its parents) will be created if necessary.

--help, -h

Prints dpkg-deb’s usage message, giving a summary of its options and their uses.


Prints dpkg-deb’s version number.


Prints information about dpkg-deb’s copyright licensing and lack of warranty. (The American spelling --license is also supported.)



Ensures that dpkg-deb builds a ‘new’ format archive. This is the default.


Forces dpkg-deb to build an ‘old’ format archive. This old archive format is less easily parsed by non-Debian tools and is now obsolete; its only use is when building packages to be parsed by versions of dpkg older than 0.93.76 (September 1995), which was released as i386 a.out only.


Inhibits dpkg-deb --build’s usual checks on the proposed contents of an archive. You can build any archive you want, no matter how broken, this way.

--debug, -D

Enables debugging output. This is not very interesting.


dpkg-deb -I package1.deb package2.deb does the wrong thing.

There is no authentication on .deb files; in fact, there isn’t even a straightforward checksum.

Do not attempt to use just dpkg-deb to install software ! You must use dpkg proper to ensure that all the files are correctly placed and the package’s scripts run and its status and contents recorded.


deb(5), deb-control(5), dpkg(8), dselect(8).


dpkg-deb and this manpage were written by Ian Jackson. They are Copyright (C)1995-1996 by him and released under the GNU General Public Licence; there is NO WARRANTY. See /usr/share/doc/dpkg/copyright and /usr/share/common-licenses/GPL for details.