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 below).

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

       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

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

       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

       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

       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 parentheses.

       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:

       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 fields.

       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

       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 debug-symbols.

       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 2021-08-27.  (At
       that time, the date of the most recent commit that was found in
       the repository was 2021-06-17.)  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 improvements 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)

Pages that refer to this page: dpkg(1)dpkg-deb(1)dpkg-gencontrol(1)dpkg-name(1)dpkg-parsechangelog(1)dpkg-split(1)deb(5)deb-old(5)deb-shlibs(5)deb-src-control(5)deb-version(7)