debhelper(7) — Linux manual page


debhelper(7)                      Debhelper                     debhelper(7)

NAME         top

       debhelper - the debhelper tool suite

SYNOPSIS         top

       dh_* [-v] [-a] [-i] [--no-act] [-ppackage] [-Npackage] [-Ptmpdir]

DESCRIPTION         top

       Debhelper is used to help you build a Debian package. The philosophy
       behind debhelper is to provide a collection of small, simple, and
       easily understood tools that are used in debian/rules to automate
       various common aspects of building a package. This means less work
       for you, the packager.  It also, to some degree means that these
       tools can be changed if Debian policy changes, and packages that use
       them will require only a rebuild to comply with the new policy.

       A typical debian/rules file that uses debhelper will call several
       debhelper commands in sequence, or use dh(1) to automate this
       process. Examples of rules files that use debhelper are in

       To create a new Debian package using debhelper, you can just copy one
       of the sample rules files and edit it by hand. Or you can try the dh-
       make package, which contains a dh_make command that partially
       automates the process. For a more gentle introduction, the maint-
       guide Debian package contains a tutorial about making your first
       package using debhelper.

       Except where the tool explicitly denotes otherwise, all of the
       debhelper tools assume that they run from the root directory of an
       unpacked source package.  This is so they can locate find files like
       debian/control when needed.


       Here is the list of debhelper commands you can use. See their man
       pages for additional documentation.

           automatically builds a package

           automatically cleans up after a build

           automatically configure a package prior to building

           automatically runs make install or similar

           automatically runs a package's test suites

           install bug reporting customization files into package build

           build Debian binary packages

           clean up package build directories

           compress files and fix symlinks in package build directories

           optimize DWARF debug information in ELF binaries via dwz

           fix permissions of files in package build directories

           generate and install control file

           Update caches of Freedesktop icons

           install files into package build directories

           install declarative alternative rules

           install and register SGML Catalogs

           install changelogs into package build directories

           install cron scripts into etc/cron.*

           install files into the DEBIAN directory

           install files used by debconf in package build directories

           create subdirectories in package build directories

           install documentation into package build directories

           register an Emacs add on package

           install example files into package build directories

           install GSettings overrides and set dependencies

           install if-up and if-down hooks

           install info files

           install service init files into package build directories

           install initramfs hooks and setup maintscripts

           install logcheck rulefiles into etc/logcheck/

           install logrotate config files

           install man pages into package build directories

           install Debian menu files into package build directories

           install mime files into package build directories

           register kernel modules

           install pam support files

           install ppp ip-up and ip-down files

           install systemd unit files

           install systemd unit files

           install tmpfiles.d configuration files

           install udev rules files

           register a window manager

           register X fonts

           create symlinks in package build directories

           install lintian override files into package build directories

           list binary packages debhelper will act on

           automatically create shlibs file and call dpkg-gensymbols

           generate DEBIAN/md5sums file

           check for missing files

           move files out of debian/tmp into subpackages

           calculates Perl dependencies and cleans up after MakeMaker

           perform cleanups in preparation for building a binary package

           calculate shared library dependencies

           strip executables, shared libraries, and some static libraries

           enable/disable systemd unit files

           start/stop/restart systemd unit files

           test directory before building Debian package

           ensure that a package is built with necessary level of root

           register configuration files with ucf

           Update autotools config files

           migrate usr/local directories to maintainer scripts

   Deprecated Commands
       A few debhelper commands are deprecated and should not be used.

           install GConf defaults files and register schemas (deprecated)

           old-style man page installer (deprecated)

   Other Commands
       If a program's name starts with dh_, and the program is not on the
       above lists, then it is not part of the debhelper package, but it
       should still work like the other programs described on this page.


       Many debhelper commands make use of files in debian/ to control what
       they do. Besides the common debian/changelog and debian/control,
       which are in all packages, not just those using debhelper, some
       additional files can be used to configure the behavior of specific
       debhelper commands. These files are typically named
       debian/ (where package of course, is replaced with the
       package that is being acted on).

       For example, dh_installdocs uses files named debian/ to
       list the documentation files it will install. See the man pages of
       individual commands for details about the names and formats of the
       files they use.  Generally, these files will list files to act on,
       one file per line. Some programs in debhelper use pairs of files and
       destinations or slightly more complicated formats.

       Note for the first (or only) binary package listed in debian/control,
       debhelper will use debian/foo when there's no debian/
       file.  However, it is often a good idea to keep the package. prefix
       as it is more explicit.  The primary exception to this are files that
       debhelper by default installs in every binary package when it does
       not have a package prefix (such as debian/copyright or

       In some rare cases, you may want to have different versions of these
       files for different architectures or OSes. If files named
       debian/ or debian/ exist, where ARCH
       and OS are the same as the output of "dpkg-architecture
       -qDEB_HOST_ARCH" / "dpkg-architecture -qDEB_HOST_ARCH_OS", then they
       will be used in preference to other, more general files.

       Mostly, these config files are used to specify lists of various types
       of files. Documentation or example files to install, files to move,
       and so on.  When appropriate, in cases like these, you can use
       standard shell wildcard characters (? and * and [..] character
       classes) in the files.  You can also put comments in these files;
       lines beginning with # are ignored.

       The syntax of these files is intentionally kept very simple to make
       them easy to read, understand, and modify.

   Substitutions in debhelper config files
       In compatibility level 13 and later, it is possible to use simple
       substitutions in debhelper config files for the following tools:

       ·   dh_clean

       ·   dh_install

       ·   dh_installcatalogs

       ·   dh_installdeb

       ·   dh_installdirs

       ·   dh_installdocs

       ·   dh_installexamples

       ·   dh_installinfo

       ·   dh_installman

       ·   dh_installwm

       ·   dh_link

       ·   dh_missing

       ·   dh_ucf

       All substitution variables are of the form ${foo} and the braces are
       mandatory.  Variable names are case-sensitive and consist of
       alphanumerics (a-zA-Z0-9), hyphens (-), underscores (_), and colons
       (:).  The first character must be an alphanumeric.

       If you need a literal dollar sign that cannot trigger a substitution,
       you can either use the ${Dollar} substitution or the sequence ${}.

       The following expansions are available:

           Expands to the relevant dpkg-architecture(1) value (similar to
           dpkg-architecture -qVARIABLE_HERE).

           When in doubt, the DEB_HOST_* variant is the one that will work
           both for native and cross builds.

           For performance reasons, debhelper will attempt to resolve these
           names from the environment first before consulting
           dpkg-architecture(1).  This is mostly mentioned for completeness
           as it will not matter for most cases.

           Expands to a single literal $-symbol.  This symbol will never be
           considered part of a substitution variable.  That is:

              # Triggers an error
              # Expands to the literal value "${NO_SUCH_TOKEN}"

           This variable equivalent to the sequence ${} and the two can be
           used interchangeably.

       Newline, Space, Tab
           Expands to a single ASCII newline, space and tab respectively.

           This can be useful if you need to include a literal whitespace
           character (e.g. space) where it would otherwise be stripped or
           used as a separator.

           Expands to the environment variable NAME.  The environment
           variable must be set (but can be set to the empty string).

       Note that all variables must expand to a defined value.  As an
       example, if debhelper sees ${env:FOO}, then it will insist that the
       environment variable FOO is set (it can be set to the empty string).

       Substitution limits

       To avoid infinite loops and resource exhaustion, debhelper will stop
       with an error if the text contains many substitution variables (50)
       or they expand beyond a certain size (4096 characters or 3x length of
       the original input - whichever is bigger).

   Executable debhelper config files
       If you need additional flexibility, many of the debhelper tools (e.g.
       dh_install(1)) support executing a config file as a script.

       To use this feature, simply mark the config file as executable (e.g.
       chmod +x debian/package.install) and the tool will attempt to execute
       it and use the output of the script.  In many cases, you can use
       dh-exec(1) as interpreter of the config file to retain most of the
       original syntax while getting the additional flexibility you need.

       When using executable debhelper config files, please be aware of the

       ·   The executable config file must exit with success (i.e. its
           return code should indicate success).

       ·   In compatibility level 13+, the output will be subject to
           substitutions (see "Substitutions in debhelper config files")
           where the tool support these.  Remember to be careful if your
           generator also provides substitutions as this can cause
           unnecessary confusion.

           Otherwise, the output will be used exactly as-is.  Notably,
           debhelper will not expand wildcards or strip comments or strip
           whitespace in the output.

       If you need the package to build on a file system where you cannot
       disable the executable bit, then you can use dh-exec(1) and its
       strip-output script.


       The following command line options are supported by all debhelper

       -v, --verbose
           Verbose mode: show all commands that modify the package build

           Do not really do anything. If used with -v, the result is that
           the command will output what it would have done.

       -a, --arch
           Act on architecture dependent packages that should be built for
           the DEB_HOST_ARCH architecture.

       -i, --indep
           Act on all architecture independent packages.

       -ppackage, --package=package
           Act on the package named package. This option may be specified
           multiple times to make debhelper operate on a given set of

       -s, --same-arch
           Deprecated alias of -a.

           This option is removed in compat 12.

       -Npackage, --no-package=package
           Do not act on the specified package even if an -a, -i, or -p
           option lists the package as one that should be acted on.

           Do not act on the packages which have already been acted on by
           this debhelper command earlier (i.e. if the command is present in
           the package debhelper log).  For example, if you need to call the
           command with special options only for a couple of binary
           packages, pass this option to the last call of the command to
           process the rest of packages with default settings.

       -Ptmpdir, --tmpdir=tmpdir
           Use tmpdir for package build directory. The default is

           This little-used option changes the package which debhelper
           considers the "main package", that is, the first one listed in
           debian/control, and the one for which debian/foo files can be
           used instead of the usual debian/ files.

           This is used by dh(1) when passing user-specified options to all
           the commands it runs. If the command supports the specified
           option or option bundle, it will take effect. If the command does
           not support the option (or any part of an option bundle), it will
           be ignored.


       The following command line options are supported by some debhelper
       programs.  See the man page of each program for a complete
       explanation of what each option does.

       -n  Do not modify postinst, postrm, etc. scripts.

       -Xitem, --exclude=item
           Exclude an item from processing. This option may be used multiple
           times, to exclude more than one thing. The item is typically part
           of a filename, and any file containing the specified text will be

       -A, --all
           Makes files or other items that are specified on the command line
           take effect in ALL packages acted on, not just the first.


       The following command line options are supported by all of the
       dh_auto_* debhelper programs. These programs support a variety of
       build systems, and normally heuristically determine which to use, and
       how to use them.  You can use these command line options to override
       the default behavior.  Typically these are passed to dh(1), which
       then passes them to all the dh_auto_* programs.

       -Sbuildsystem, --buildsystem=buildsystem
           Force use of the specified buildsystem, instead of trying to
           auto-select one which might be applicable for the package.

           Pass none as buildsystem to disable auto-selection.

       -Ddirectory, --sourcedir=directory, --sourcedirectory=directory
           Assume that the original package source tree is at the specified
           directory rather than the top level directory of the Debian
           source package tree.

           Warning: The --sourcedir variant matches a similar named option
           in dh_install and dh_missing (etc.) for historical reasons.
           While they have a similar name, they have very distinct purposes
           and in some cases it can cause errors when this variant is passed
           to dh (when then passes it on to all tools).

       -B[directory], --builddir[=directory], --builddirectory[=directory]
           Enable out of source building and use the specified directory as
           the build directory. If directory parameter is omitted, a default
           build directory will be chosen.

           If this option is not specified, building will be done in source
           by default unless the build system requires or prefers out of
           source tree building.  In such a case, the default build
           directory will be used even if --builddirectory is not specified.

           If the build system prefers out of source tree building but still
           allows in source building, the latter can be re-enabled by
           passing a build directory path that is the same as the source
           directory path.

       --parallel, --no-parallel
           Control whether parallel builds should be used if underlying
           build system supports them.  The number of parallel jobs is
           controlled by the DEB_BUILD_OPTIONS environment variable ("Debian
           Policy, section 4.9.1") at build time. It might also be subject
           to a build system specific limit.

           If neither option is specified, debhelper currently defaults to
           --parallel in compat 10 (or later) and --no-parallel otherwise.

           As an optimization, dh will try to avoid passing these options to
           subprocesses, if they are unnecessary and the only options
           passed.  Notably this happens when DEB_BUILD_OPTIONS does not
           have a parallel parameter (or its value is 1).

           This option implies --parallel and allows further limiting the
           number of jobs that can be used in a parallel build. If the
           package build is known to only work with certain levels of
           concurrency, you can set this to the maximum level that is known
           to work, or that you wish to support.

           Notably, setting the maximum to 1 is effectively the same as
           using --no-parallel.

           By default, dh(1) will compute several environment (e.g. by using
           dpkg-buildflags(1)) and cache them to avoid having all dh_auto_*
           tool recompute them.

           When passing this option, the concrete dh_auto_* tool will ignore
           the cache from dh(1) and retrigger a rebuild of these variables.
           This is useful in the very rare case where the package need to do
           multiple builds but with different ...FLAGS options.  A concrete
           example would be needing to change the -O parameter in CFLAGS in
           the second build:

               export DEB_CFLAGS_MAINT_APPEND=-O3

                   dh $@

                   dh_auto_configure -Bbuild-deb ...
                   DEB_CFLAGS_MAINT_APPEND=-Os dh_auto_configure \
                      --reload-all-buildenv-variables -Bbuild-udeb ...

           Without --reload-all-buildenv-variables in the second call to
           dh_auto_configure(1), the change in DEB_CFLAGS_MAINT_APPEND would
           be ignored as dh_auto_configure(1) would use the cached value of
           CFLAGS set by dh(1).

           This option is only available with debhelper (>= 12.7~) when the
           package uses compatibility level 9 or later.

       --list, -l
           List all build systems supported by debhelper on this system. The
           list includes both default and third party build systems (marked
           as such). Also shows which build system would be automatically
           selected, or which one is manually specified with the
           --buildsystem option.


       From time to time, major non-backwards-compatible changes need to be
       made to debhelper, to keep it clean and well-designed as needs change
       and its author gains more experience. To prevent such major changes
       from breaking existing packages, the concept of debhelper
       compatibility levels was introduced. You must tell debhelper which
       compatibility level it should use, and it modifies its behavior in
       various ways.

       In current debhelper, you can specify the compatibility level in
       debian/control by adding a Build-Depends on the debhelper-compat
       package.  For example, to use v13 mode, ensure debian/control has:

         Build-Depends: debhelper-compat (= 13)

       This also serves as an appropriate versioned build dependency on a
       sufficient version of the debhelper package, so you do not need to
       specify a separate versioned build dependency on the debhelper
       package unless you need a specific point release of debhelper (such
       as for the introduction of a new feature or bugfix within a
       compatibility level).

       Note that debhelper does not provide debhelper-compat for
       experimental or beta compatibility levels; packages experimenting
       with those compatibility levels should use debian/compat or

       Prior versions of debhelper required specifying the compatibility
       level in the file debian/compat, and current debhelper still supports
       this for backward compatibility, though a package may not specify a
       compatibility level via multiple methods at once. To use this method,
       debian/compat should contain the compatibility level as a single
       number, and no other content. If you specify the compatibility level
       by this method, your package will also need a versioned build
       dependency on a version of the debhelper package equal to (or greater
       than) the compatibility level your package uses. So, if you specify
       compatibility level 13 in debian/compat, ensure debian/control has:

         Build-Depends: debhelper (>= 13~)

       Unless otherwise indicated, all debhelper documentation assumes that
       you are using the most recent compatibility level, and in most cases
       does not indicate if the behavior is different in an earlier
       compatibility level, so if you are not using the most recent
       compatibility level, you're advised to read below for notes about
       what is different in earlier compatibility levels.

   Supported compatibility levels
       These are the available compatibility levels:

       v5  This is the lowest supported compatibility level.

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

           This mode is deprecated.

       v6  Changes from v5 are:

           -       Commands that generate maintainer script fragments will
                   order the fragments in reverse order for the prerm and
                   postrm scripts.

           -       dh_installwm will install a slave manpage link for
                   x-window-manager.1.gz, if it sees the man page in
                   usr/share/man/man1 in the package build directory.

           -       dh_builddeb did not previously delete everything matching
                   DH_ALWAYS_EXCLUDE, if it was set to a list of things to
                   exclude, such as CVS:.svn:.git. Now it does.

           -       dh_installman allows overwriting existing man pages in
                   the package build directory. In previous compatibility
                   levels it silently refuses to do this.

           This mode is deprecated.

       v7  Changes from v6 are:

           -       dh_install, will fall back to looking for files in
                   debian/tmp if it doesn't find them in the current
                   directory (or wherever you tell it look using
                   --sourcedir). This allows dh_install to interoperate with
                   dh_auto_install, which installs to debian/tmp, without
                   needing any special parameters.

           -       dh_clean will read debian/clean and delete files listed

           -       dh_clean will delete toplevel *-stamp files.

           -       dh_installchangelogs will guess at what file is the
                   upstream changelog if none is specified.

           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.

       v9  Changes from v8 are:

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

           -       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 level)

           -       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 Build.PL

           -       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.

       v10 Changes from v9 are:

           -       dh_installinit will no longer install 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 binNMUs.

           -       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,

           -       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.

       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

           -       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

           -       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 documentation.

           -       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

                   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 well.

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

           -       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

                   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 /usr/share/doc/package.

           -       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

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

       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 default.

                   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

           -       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 --list-missing.

           -       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 </usr/share/doc/package/examples>.)

           -       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 4.1.5).

                   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.

           -       The dh_installdeb tool no longer installs the maintainer
                   provided conffiles file.  The file has mostly been
                   obsolete since compatibility level 3, where dh_installdeb
                   began to automatically compute the resulting conffiles
                   control file.

           -       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 instead.

       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-tools.

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

           -       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 resets the environment
                   variables HOME and common XDG_* variable.  Please see
                   description of the environment variables in "ENVIRONMENT"
                   for how this handled.

                   This feature changed between 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

                   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 ...

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

           Changes from v13 are:

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

                   This can cause issues with running binaries directly from
                   the build directories as they might now require a
                   manually set LD_LIBRARY_PATH.  If you need to override
                   this change, we recommend that you try to pass the
                   -DCMAKE_SKIP_RPATH=OFF option first to see if that fixes
                   the problem (leaving BUILD_RPATH_USE_ORIGIN at its new
                   default).  This should undo the need for LD_LIBRARY_PATH
                   and avoid the reproducibility issues on Linux, where
                   $ORIGIN is supported by the runtime linkers.

NOTES         top

   Multiple binary package support
       If your source package generates more than one binary package,
       debhelper programs will default to acting on all binary packages when
       run. If your source package happens to generate one architecture
       dependent package, and another architecture independent package, this
       is not the correct behavior, because you need to generate the
       architecture dependent packages in the binary-arch debian/rules
       target, and the architecture independent packages in the binary-indep
       debian/rules target.

       To facilitate this, as well as give you more control over which
       packages are acted on by debhelper programs, all debhelper programs
       accept the -a, -i, -p, and -s parameters. These parameters are
       cumulative.  If none are given, debhelper programs default to acting
       on all packages listed in the control file, with the exceptions

       First, any package whose Architecture field in debian/control does
       not match the DEB_HOST_ARCH architecture will be excluded ("Debian
       Policy, section 5.6.8").

       Also, some additional packages may be excluded based on the contents
       of the DEB_BUILD_PROFILES environment variable and Build-Profiles
       fields in binary package stanzas in debian/control, according to the
       draft policy at <>.

       Interaction between package selections and Build-Profiles

       Build-Profiles affect which packages are included in the package
       selections mechanisms in debhelper.  Generally, the package
       selections are described from the assumption that all packages are
       enabled.  This section describes how the selections react when a
       package is disabled due to the active Build-Profiles (or lack of
       active Build-Profiles).

       -a/--arch, -i/--indep OR no selection options (a raw "dh_X" call)
           The package disabled by Build-Profiles is silently excluded from
           the selection.

           Note you will receive a warning if all packages related to these
           selections are disabled.  In that case, it generally does not
           make sense to do the build in the first place.

       -N package / --no-package package
           The option is accepted and effectively does nothing.

       -p package / --package package
           The option is accepted, but debhelper will not act on the

       Note that it does not matter whether a package is enabled or disabled
       by default.

   Automatic generation of Debian install scripts
       Some debhelper commands will automatically generate parts of Debian
       maintainer scripts. If you want these automatically generated things
       included in your existing Debian maintainer scripts, then you need to
       add #DEBHELPER# to your scripts, in the place the code should be
       added.  #DEBHELPER# will be replaced by any auto-generated code when
       you run dh_installdeb.

       If a script does not exist at all and debhelper needs to add
       something to it, then debhelper will create the complete script.

       All debhelper commands that automatically generate code in this way
       let it be disabled by the -n parameter (see above).

       Note that the inserted code will be shell code, so you cannot
       directly use it in a Perl script. If you would like to embed it into
       a Perl script, here is one way to do that (note that I made sure that
       $1, $2, etc are set with the set command):

         my $temp="set -e\nset -- @ARGV\n" . << 'EOF';
         if (system($temp)) {
            my $exit_code = ($? >> 8) & 0xff;
            my $signal = $? & 0x7f;
            if ($exit_code) {
                die("The debhelper script failed with error code: ${exit_code}");
            } else {
                die("The debhelper script was killed by signal: ${signal}");

   Automatic generation of miscellaneous dependencies.
       Some debhelper commands may make the generated package need to depend
       on some other packages. For example, if you use dh_installdebconf(1),
       your package will generally need to depend on debconf. Or if you use
       dh_installxfonts(1), your package will generally need to depend on a
       particular version of xutils. Keeping track of these miscellaneous
       dependencies can be annoying since they are dependent on how
       debhelper does things, so debhelper offers a way to automate it.

       All commands of this type, besides documenting what dependencies may
       be needed on their man pages, will automatically generate a substvar
       called ${misc:Depends}. If you put that token into your
       debian/control file, it will be expanded to the dependencies
       debhelper figures you need.

       This is entirely independent of the standard ${shlibs:Depends}
       generated by dh_makeshlibs(1), and the ${perl:Depends} generated by
       dh_perl(1).  You can choose not to use any of these, if debhelper's
       guesses don't match reality.

   Package build directories
       By default, all debhelper programs assume that the temporary
       directory used for assembling the tree of files in a package is

       Sometimes, you might want to use some other temporary directory. This
       is supported by the -P flag. For example, "dh_installdocs
       -Pdebian/tmp", will use debian/tmp as the temporary directory. Note
       that if you use -P, the debhelper programs can only be acting on a
       single package at a time. So if you have a package that builds many
       binary packages, you will need to also use the -p flag to specify
       which binary package the debhelper program will act on.

       Debhelper includes support for udebs. To create a udeb with
       debhelper, add "Package-Type: udeb" to the package's stanza in
       debian/control.  Debhelper will try to create udebs that comply with
       debian-installer policy, by making the generated package files end in
       .udeb, not installing any documentation into a udeb, skipping over
       preinst, postrm, prerm, and config scripts, etc.

ENVIRONMENT         top

       This section describes some of the environment variables that
       influences the behaviour of debhelper or which debhelper interacts

       It is important to note that these must be actual environment
       variables in order to affect the behaviour of debhelper (not simply
       Makefile variables).  To specify them properly in debian/rules, be
       sure to "export" them. For example, "export DH_VERBOSE".

           Set to 1 to enable verbose mode. Debhelper will output every
           command it runs. Also enables verbose build logs for some build
           systems like autoconf.

           Set to 1 to enable quiet mode. Debhelper will not output commands
           calling the upstream build system nor will dh print which
           subcommands are called and depending on the upstream build system
           might make that more quiet, too.  This makes it easier to spot
           important messages but makes the output quite useless as buildd
           log.  Ignored if DH_VERBOSE is also set.

           Temporarily specifies what compatibility level debhelper should
           run at, overriding any value specified via Build-Depends on
           debhelper-compat or via the debian/compat file.

           Set to 1 to enable no-act mode.

           All debhelper tools will parse command line arguments listed in
           this variable before any command option (as if they had been
           prepended to the command line arguments).  Unfortunately, some
           third-party provided tools may not support this variable and will
           ignore these command line arguments.

           When using dh(1), it can be passed options that will be passed on
           to each debhelper command, which is generally better than using

           If set, this adds the value the variable is set to to the -X
           options of all commands that support the -X option. Moreover,
           dh_builddeb will rm -rf anything that matches the value in your
           package build tree.

           This can be useful if you are doing a build from a CVS source
           tree, in which case setting DH_ALWAYS_EXCLUDE=CVS will prevent
           any CVS directories from sneaking into the package you build. Or,
           if a package has a source tarball that (unwisely) includes CVS
           directories, you might want to export DH_ALWAYS_EXCLUDE=CVS in
           debian/rules, to make it take effect wherever your package is

           Multiple things to exclude can be separated with colons, as in

           If set, this adds the specified dh addons to be run in the
           appropriate places in the sequence of commands. This is
           equivalent to specifying the addon to run with the --with flag in
           the debian/rules file. Any --without calls specifying an addon in
           this environment variable will not be run.

           This is intended to be used by downstreams or specific local
           configurations that require a debhelper addon to be run during
           multiple builds without having to patch a large number of rules
           file. If at all possible, this should be avoided in favor of a
           --with flag in the rules file.

           These variables can be used to control whether debhelper commands
           should use colors in their textual output.  Can be set to
           "always", "auto" (the default), or "never".

           Note that DPKG_COLOR also affects a number of dpkg related tools
           and debhelper uses it on the assumption that you want the same
           color setting for dpkg and debhelper.  In the off-hand chance you
           want different color setting for debhelper, you can use DH_COLORS
           instead or in addition to DPKG_COLORS.

           If no explicit request for color has been given (e.g. DH_COLORS
           and DPKG_COLORS are both unset), the presence of this environment
           variable cause the default color setting to be "never".

           The variable is defined according to <>.  In
           this project, the environment variables (such as DH_COLORS) are
           considered an explicit request for color.

           By default (in any non-deprecated compat level), debhelper will
           automatically set these flags by using dpkg-buildflags(1), when
           they are unset.  If you need to change the default flags, please
           use the features from dpkg-buildflags(1) to do this (e.g.
           DEB_BUILD_MAINT_OPTIONS=hardening=all or
           DEB_CPPFLAGS_MAINT_APPEND=-DCUSTOM_MACRO=true) rather than
           setting the concrete variable directly.

       HOME, XDG_*
           In compat 13 and later, these environment variables are reset
           before invoking the upstream build system via the dh_auto_*
           helpers.  The variables HOME (all dh_auto_* helpers)and
           XDG_RUNTIME_DIR (dh_auto_test only) will be set to a writable
           directory. All remaining variables and XDG_RUNTIME_DIR (except
           for during dh_auto_test) will be cleared.

           The HOME directory will be created as an empty directory but it
           will be reused between calls to dh_auto_*.  Any content will
           persist until explicitly deleted or dh_clean.

           Please see "Supported flags in DEB_BUILD_OPTIONS" for this
           environment variable.

           Please note that this variable should not be altered by package
           maintainers inside debian/rules to change the behaviour of
           debhelper.  Instead, where the package maintainer need these
           features, they should look disabling the relevant feature
           directly (e.g. by overriding the concrete tools).

           This is a dpkg specific environment variable (see e.g.
           dpkg-buildflags(1)).  The debhelper tool suite silently ignores

           It is documented here because it has a similar name to
           DEB_BUILD_OPTIONS, which make some people mistakenly assume that
           debhelper will also react to this variable.

   Supported flags in DEB_BUILD_OPTIONS
       The debhelper tool suite reacts to the following flags in

           This is a debhelper specific value.

           When dherroron is present and set to obsolete-compat-levels, then
           debhelper tools will promote deprecation warnings for usage of
           old soon to be removed compat levels into errors.

           This is useful for automated checking for code relying on
           deprecated compat levels that is scheduled for removal.

           This option is intended for testing purposes; not production

           This value will change the content of the debs being built.  The
           .deb packages built when this is set is therefore not bit-for-bit
           reproducible with a regular build in the general case.

           This value will cause the official debhelper tools will skip
           actions and helpers that either remove, detach or deduplicate
           debugging symbols in ELF binaries.

           This value affects dh_dwz(1) and dh_strip(1).

           This value will cause the official debhelper build systems to
           skip runs of upstream test suites.

           Package maintainers looking to avoid running the upstream tests
           should not rely on this.  Instead, they can add an empty override
           target to skip dh_auto_test.

           This value affects dh_auto_test(1).

           This value will change the content of the debs being built.  The
           .deb packages built when this is set is therefore not bit-for-bit
           reproducible with a regular build in the general case.

           This value will cause several debhelper tools to skip
           installation of documentation such as manpages or upstream
           provided documentation.  Additionally, the tools will also ignore
           if declared documentation is "missing" on the assumption that the
           documentation has not been built.

           This value effects tools like dh_installdocs(1), which knows it
           is working with documentation.

       noautodbgsym, noddebs
           The official name is autodbgsym.  The noddebs variant is accepted
           for historical reasons.

           This value causes debhelper to skip the generation of
           automatically generated debug symbol packages.

           This value affects dh_strip(1).

           This value enables debhelper to use up to N threads or processes
           (subject to parameters like --no-parallel and --max-parallel=M).
           Not all debhelper tools work with parallel tasks and may silently
           ignore the request.

           This value affects many debhelper tools.  Most notably dh_auto_*,
           which will attempt to run the underlying upstream build system
           with that number of threads.

           This value will cause the official debhelper build systems to
           configure upstream builds to be terse (i.e. reduce verbosity in
           their output).  This is subject to the upstream and the debhelper
           build system supporting such features.

           This value affects most dh_auto_* tools.

       Unknown flags are silently ignored.

       Note third-party debhelper-like tools or third-party provided build
       systems may or may not react to the above flags.  This tends to
       depend on implementation details of the tool.

SEE ALSO         top

           A set of example debian/rules files that use debhelper.

           Debhelper web site.

AUTHOR         top

       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] 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 2020-08-13.  (At
       that time, the date of the most recent commit that was found in the
       repository was 2020-07-26.)  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

13.2                             2020-07-14                     debhelper(7)

Pages that refer to this page: dh(1)dh_auto_build(1)dh_auto_clean(1)dh_auto_configure(1)dh_auto_install(1)dh_auto_test(1)dh_builddeb(1)dh_clean(1)dh_compress(1)dh_dwz(1)dh_fixperms(1)dh_gconf(1)dh_gencontrol(1)dh_install(1)dh_installalternatives(1)dh_installcatalogs(1)dh_installchangelogs(1)dh_installcron(1)dh_installdeb(1)dh_installdebconf(1)dh_installdirs(1)dh_installdocs(1)dh_installemacsen(1)dh_installexamples(1)dh_installgsettings(1)dh_installifupdown(1)dh_installinfo(1)dh_installinit(1)dh_installinitramfs(1)dh_installlogcheck(1)dh_installlogrotate(1)dh_installman(1)dh_installmanpages(1)dh_installmenu(1)dh_installmime(1)dh_installmodules(1)dh_installpam(1)dh_installppp(1)dh_installsystemd(1)dh_installsystemduser(1)dh_installtmpfiles(1)dh_installudev(1)dh_installwm(1)dh_installxfonts(1)dh_link(1)dh_listpackages(1)dh_makeshlibs(1)dh_md5sums(1)dh_missing(1)dh_movefiles(1)dh_perl(1)dh_prep(1)dh_shlibdeps(1)dh_strip(1)dh_systemd_enable(1)dh_systemd_start(1)dh_testdir(1)dh_testroot(1)dh_ucf(1)dh_update_autotools_config(1)dh_usrlocal(1)debhelper-obsolete-compat(7)