debdiff [options] ... deb1 deb2
debdiff [options] ... changes1 changes2
debdiff [options] ... --from deb1a deb1b ... --to deb2a deb2b ...
debdiff [options] ... dsc1 dsc2
debdiff takes the names of two Debian package files (.debs or .udebs)
on the command line and compares their contents (considering only the
files in the main package, not the maintenance scripts). It shows
which files have been introduced and which removed between the two
package files, and is therefore useful for spotting files which may
have been inadvertently lost between revisions of the package. It also
checks the file owners and permissions, and compares the control files
of the two packages using the wdiff program. If you want a deeper com-
parison of two Debian package files you can use the diffoscope tool.
If no arguments are given, debdiff tries to compare the content of the
current source directory with the last version of the package.
debdiff can also handle changes between groups of .deb files in two
ways. The first is to specify two .changes files. In this case, the
.deb files listed in the .changes file will be compared, by taking the
contents of all of the listed .deb files together. (The .deb files
listed are assumed to be in the same directory as the .changes file.)
The second way is to list the .deb files of interest specifically using
the --from ... --to syntax. These both help if a package is broken up
into smaller packages and one wishes to ensure that nothing is lost in
debdiff examines the devscripts configuration files as described below.
Command line options override the configuration file settings, though.
If debdiff is passed two source packages (.dsc files) it will compare
the contents of the source packages. If the source packages differ
only in Debian revision number (that is, the .orig.tar.gz files are the
same in the two .dsc files), then interdiff(1) will be used to compare
the two patch files if this program is available on the system, other-
wise a diff will be performed between the two source trees.
The default mode of operation is to ignore directory names which
appear in the file list, but they, too, will be considered if
this option is given.
Ignore directory names which appear in the file list. This is
the default and it can be used to override a configuration file
--move FROM TO, -m FROM TO
It sometimes occurs that various files or directories are moved
around between revisions. This can be handled using this
is applied to the files. In particular, TO can make use of
backreferences such as $1.
debdiff will usually compare the respective control files of the
packages using wdiff(1). This option suppresses this part of
Compare the respective control files; this is the default, and
it can be used to override a configuration file setting.
--controlfiles FILE[,FILE ...]
Specify which control files to compare; by default this is just
control, but could include postinst, config and so on. Files
will only be compared if they are present in both .debs being
compared. The special value ALL compares all control files
present in both packages, except for md5sums. This option can
be used to override a configuration file setting.
When processing source packages, compare control files using
wdiff. Equivalent to the --control option for binary packages.
Do not compare control files in source packages using wdfiff.
This is the default.
--wp, --wl, --wt
Pass a -p, -l or -t option to wdiff respectively. (This yields
the whole wdiff output rather than just the lines with any
If multiple .deb files are specified on the command line, either
using .changes files or the --from/--to syntax, then this option
will also show which files (if any) have moved between packages.
(The package names are simply determined from the names of the
The default behaviour; can be used to override a configuration
--renamed FROM TO
If --show-moved is being used and a package has been renamed in
the process, this command instructs debdiff to treat the package
in the first list called FROM as if it were called TO. Multiple
uses of this option are permitted.
Exclude files that match PATTERN. Multiple uses of this option
command-line, even if that means comparing a package with a
higher version against one with a lower version. This is the
When comparing source packages, also unpack tarballs found in
the top level source directory to compare their contents along
with the other files. This is the default behaviour.
Do not unpack tarballs inside source packages.
Do not read any configuration files. This can only be used as
the first option given on the command-line.
Look for the .dsc files in directory instead of the parent of
the source directory. This should either be an absolute path or
relative to the top of the source directory.
Show a summary of options.
Show version and copyright information.
Be quiet if no differences were found.
Ignore whitespace in diffs.
The two configuration files /etc/devscripts.conf and ~/.devscripts are
sourced by a shell in that order to set configuration variables. Com-
mand line options can be used to override configuration file settings.
Environment variable settings are ignored for this purpose. The cur-
rently recognised variables are:
If this is set to yes, then it is the same as the --dirs command
line parameter being used.
If this is set to no, then it is the same as the --nocontrol
command line parameter being used. The default is yes.
Which control files to compare, corresponding to the --con-
trolfiles command line option. The default is control.
If this is set to yes, then it is the same as the --show-moved
--wdiff-source-control command line parameter being used.
If this is set to yes, then it is the same as the
--auto-ver-sort command line parameter being used.
If this is set to no, then it is the same as the
--no-unpack-tarballs command line parameter being used.
This specifies the directory in which to look for the .dsc and
files, and is either an absolute path or relative to the top of
the source tree. This corresponds to the --debs-dir command
line option. This directive could be used, for example, if you
always use pbuilder or svn-buildpackage to build your packages.
Note that it also affects debrelease(1) in the same way, hence
the strange name of the option.
Normally the exit value will be 0 if no differences are reported and 1
if any are reported. If there is some fatal error, the exit code will
diffstat(1), dpkg-deb(1), interdiff(1), wdiff(1), devscripts.conf(5),
debdiff was originally written as a shell script by Yann Dirson <dir-
firstname.lastname@example.org> and rewritten in Perl with many more features by Julian
Gilbey <email@example.com>. The software may be freely redistributed
under the terms and conditions of the GNU General Public License, ver-
DEBIAN Debian Utilities DEBDIFF(1)
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