dpkg-gensymbols(1)                dpkg suite                dpkg-gensymbols(1)

       dpkg-gensymbols  -  generate  symbols  files (shared library dependency

       dpkg-gensymbols [option...]

       dpkg-gensymbols scans a temporary build tree  (debian/tmp  by  default)
       looking  for  libraries  and  generates a symbols file describing them.
       This file, if non-empty, is then installed in the  DEBIAN  subdirectory
       of  the  build  tree  so  that  it  ends  up  included  in  the control
       information of the package.

       When generating those files,  it  uses  as  input  some  symbols  files
       provided  by the maintainer. It looks for the following files (and uses
       the first that is found):

       o   debian/package.symbols.arch

       o   debian/symbols.arch

       o   debian/package.symbols

       o   debian/symbols

       The main interest of those files is  to  provide  the  minimal  version
       associated  to  each  symbol  provided  by  the  libraries.  Usually it
       corresponds to the first version of  that  package  that  provided  the
       symbol, but it can be manually incremented by the maintainer if the ABI
       of the symbol is extended  without  breaking  backwards  compatibility.
       It's  the  responsibility  of the maintainer to keep those files up-to-
       date and accurate, but dpkg-gensymbols helps with that.

       When the generated symbols files differ from  the  maintainer  supplied
       one,  dpkg-gensymbols  will  print  a  diff  between  the two versions.
       Furthermore if the difference is too significant,  it  will  even  fail
       (you  can  customize  how  much difference you can tolerate, see the -c

       The symbols files are really useful only if they reflect the  evolution
       of  the  package  through  several releases. Thus the maintainer has to
       update them every  time  that  a  new  symbol  is  added  so  that  its
       associated minimal version matches reality.  The diffs contained in the
       build logs can be  used  as  a  starting  point,  but  the  maintainer,
       additionally,  has to make sure that the behaviour of those symbols has
       not changed in a way that would make anything using those  symbols  and
       linking against the new version, stop working with the old version.  In
       most cases, the diff applies  directly  to  the  debian/package.symbols
       file.  That  said,  further tweaks are usually needed: it's recommended
       for example to drop the Debian revision from  the  minimal  version  so
       that  backports  with  a  lower  version  number  but the same upstream
       version still  satisfy  the  generated  dependencies.   If  the  Debian
       revision  can't  be  dropped because the symbol really got added by the
       Debian specific change, then one should suffix the version with '~'.

       Before applying any patch to the symbols file,  the  maintainer  should
       double-check  that  it's  sane.  Public  symbols  are  not  supposed to
       disappear, so the patch should ideally only add new lines.

       Note that you can put comments in symbols files: any line with  '#'  as
       the  first  character  is a comment except if it starts with '#include'
       (see section Using includes).   Lines  starting  with  '#MISSING:'  are
       special comments documenting symbols that have disappeared.

       Do  not  forget  to  check if old symbol versions need to be increased.
       There is no way dpkg-gensymbols can warn about this.  Blindly  applying
       the  diff  or  assuming there is nothing to change if there is no diff,
       without checking for such changes, can  lead  to  packages  with  loose
       dependencies  that  claim they can work with older packages they cannot
       work with. This  will  introduce  hard  to  find  bugs  with  (partial)

   Using #PACKAGE# substitution
       In   some   rare   cases,  the  name  of  the  library  varies  between
       architectures.  To avoid hardcoding the name  of  the  package  in  the
       symbols  file, you can use the marker #PACKAGE#. It will be replaced by
       the real  package  name  during  installation  of  the  symbols  files.
       Contrary  to  the  #MINVER#  marker,  #PACKAGE#  will never appear in a
       symbols file inside a binary package.

   Using symbol tags
       Symbol tagging is useful for marking symbols that are special  in  some
       way.   Any  symbol can have an arbitrary number of tags associated with
       it. While all tags are  parsed  and  stored,  only  some  of  them  are
       understood  by  dpkg-gensymbols  and  trigger  special  handling of the
       symbols. See subsection Standard symbol tags  for  reference  of  these

       Tag  specification comes right before the symbol name (no whitespace is
       allowed in between). It always starts with an opening bracket  (,  ends
       with  a  closing  bracket ) and must contain at least one tag. Multiple
       tags are separated by the | character. Each tag can optionally  have  a
       value  which  is  separated  form  the tag name by the = character. Tag
       names and values can be arbitrary strings except  they  cannot  contain
       any  of  the  special  )  |  = characters. Symbol names following a tag
       specification can optionally be quoted with either ' or " characters to
       allow  whitespaces in them. However, if there are no tags specified for
       the symbol, quotes are  treated  as  part  of  the  symbol  name  which
       continues up until the first space.

        (tag1=i am marked|tag name with space)"tagged quoted symbol"@Base 1.0
        (optional)tagged_unquoted_symbol@Base 1.0 1
        untagged_symbol@Base 1.0

       The  first  symbol in the example is named tagged quoted symbol and has
       two tags: tag1 with value i am marked and tag name with space that  has
       no value. The second symbol named tagged_unquoted_symbol is only tagged
       with the tag named optional. The last  symbol  is  an  example  of  the
       normal untagged symbol.

       Since  symbol  tags are an extension of the deb-symbols(5) format, they
       can only be part of the symbols files used in  source  packages  (those
       files  should then be seen as templates used to build the symbols files
       that are embedded in binary packages). When dpkg-gensymbols  is  called
       without  the  -t option, it will output symbols files compatible to the
       deb-symbols(5) format: it fully  processes  symbols  according  to  the
       requirements  of  their  standard  tags  and  strips  all tags from the
       output. On the contrary, in template mode (-t) all  symbols  and  their
       tags  (both  standard  and unknown ones) are kept in the output and are
       written in their original form as they were loaded.

   Standard symbol tags
              A symbol marked as optional can disappear from  the  library  at
              any  time  and  that  will  never cause dpkg-gensymbols to fail.
              However, disappeared optional symbols will  continuously  appear
              as  MISSING  in  the  diff  in  each new package revision.  This
              behaviour serves as a reminder for the maintainer  that  such  a
              symbol  needs  to  be removed from the symbol file or readded to
              the library. When the  optional  symbol,  which  was  previously
              declared as MISSING, suddenly reappears in the next revision, it
              will be upgraded back to the "existing" status with its  minimum
              version unchanged.

              This  tag  is  useful  for symbols which are private where their
              disappearance do not cause ABI breakage. For  example,  most  of
              C++  template  instantiations  fall into this category. Like any
              other tag, this one may also have an arbitrary value:  it  could
              be used to indicate why the symbol is considered optional.

              These  tags allow one to restrict the set of architectures where
              the symbol is supposed to exist. The arch-bits  and  arch-endian
              tags  are  supported since dpkg 1.18.0. When the symbols list is
              updated with the symbols discovered in the  library,  all  arch-
              specific   symbols   which  do  not  concern  the  current  host
              architecture are treated as if they did not exist. If  an  arch-
              specific  symbol matching the current host architecture does not
              exist in the library,  normal  procedures  for  missing  symbols
              apply  and  it  may  cause dpkg-gensymbols to fail. On the other
              hand, if the arch-specific symbol  is  found  when  it  was  not
              supposed  to exist (because the current host architecture is not
              listed in the tag or does not match the endianness and bits), it
              is  made  arch neutral (i.e. the arch, arch-bits and arch-endian
              tags are dropped and the symbol will appear in the diff  due  to
              this change), but it is not considered as new.

              When  operating  in  the  default non-template mode, among arch-
              specific  symbols  only  those  that  match  the  current   host
              architecture  are  written to the symbols file. On the contrary,
              all arch-specific symbols (including those from foreign  arches)
              are always written to the symbol file when operating in template

              The format of architecture-list is the same as the one  used  in
              the  Build-Depends field of debian/control (except the enclosing
              square brackets []). For example, the first symbol from the list
              below  will  be  considered  only  on  alpha, any-amd64 and ia64
              architectures, the second only on linux architectures, while the
              third one anywhere except on armel.

               (arch=alpha any-amd64 ia64)64bit_specific_symbol@Base 1.0
               (arch=linux-any)linux_specific_symbol@Base 1.0
               (arch=!armel)symbol_armel_does_not_have@Base 1.0

              The architecture-bits is either 32 or 64.

               (arch-bits=32)32bit_specific_symbol@Base 1.0
               (arch-bits=64)64bit_specific_symbol@Base 1.0

              The architecture-endianness is either little or big.

               (arch-endian=little)little_endian_specific_symbol@Base 1.0
               (arch-endian=big)big_endian_specific_symbol@Base 1.0

              Multiple restrictions can be chained.

               (arch-bits=32|arch-endian=little)32bit_le_symbol@Base 1.0

              dpkg-gensymbols has an internal blacklist of symbols that should
              not appear in symbols files  as  they  are  usually  only  side-
              effects  of implementation details of the toolchain. If for some
              reason, you really want one of those symbols to be  included  in
              the   symbols   file,   you   should   tag   the   symbol   with
              ignore-blacklist.  It  can  be  necessary  for  some  low  level
              toolchain libraries like libgcc.

       c++    Denotes c++ symbol pattern. See Using symbol patterns subsection

       symver Denotes symver (symbol version) symbol pattern. See Using symbol
              patterns subsection below.

       regex  Denotes   regex   symbol  pattern.  See  Using  symbol  patterns
              subsection below.

   Using symbol patterns
       Unlike a standard symbol specification, a pattern  may  cover  multiple
       real  symbols  from  the library. dpkg-gensymbols will attempt to match
       each pattern against each real symbol that does  not  have  a  specific
       symbol  counterpart  defined  in  the  symbol  file. Whenever the first
       matching pattern is found, all its tags and properties will be used  as
       a  basis  specification of the symbol. If none of the patterns matches,
       the symbol will be considered as new.

       A pattern is considered lost if it does not match  any  symbol  in  the
       library.  By  default this will trigger a dpkg-gensymbols failure under
       -c1 or higher level. However, if the failure is undesired, the  pattern
       may be marked with the optional tag. Then if the pattern does not match
       anything, it will only appear in the diff as  MISSING.  Moreover,  like
       any  symbol,  the  pattern may be limited to the specific architectures
       with the arch tag. Please refer  to  Standard  symbol  tags  subsection
       above for more information.

       Patterns  are  an extension of the deb-symbols(5) format hence they are
       only valid in symbol file templates. Pattern  specification  syntax  is
       not  any  different  from the one of a specific symbol. However, symbol
       name part of the specification serves as an expression  to  be  matched
       against  name@version of the real symbol. In order to distinguish among
       different pattern types, a pattern will  typically  be  tagged  with  a
       special tag.

       At the moment, dpkg-gensymbols supports three basic pattern types:

          This  pattern is denoted by the c++ tag. It matches only C++ symbols
          by their demangled symbol name (as emitted by  c++filt(1)  utility).
          This  pattern is very handy for matching symbols which mangled names
          might vary across  different  architectures  while  their  demangled
          names  remain  the  same.  One  group of such symbols is non-virtual
          thunks which have architecture specific offsets  embedded  in  their
          mangled  names.  A  common  instance  of  this  case  is  a  virtual
          destructor which under diamond inheritance needs a non-virtual thunk
          symbol.  For  example, even if _ZThn8_N3NSB6ClassDD1Ev@Base on 32bit
          architectures  will  probably  be  _ZThn16_N3NSB6ClassDD1Ev@Base  on
          64bit ones, it can be matched with a single c++ pattern:

          libdummy.so.1 libdummy1 #MINVER#
           (c++)"non-virtual thunk to NSB::ClassD::~ClassD()@Base" 1.0

          The  demangled name above can be obtained by executing the following

           $ echo '_ZThn8_N3NSB6ClassDD1Ev@Base' | c++filt

          Please note that while mangled name is  unique  in  the  library  by
          definition,  this  is  not  necessarily  true for demangled names. A
          couple of distinct real symbols may have the  same  demangled  name.
          For  example,  that's  the  case  with  non-virtual thunk symbols in
          complex inheritance configurations or  with  most  constructors  and
          destructors  (since  g++  typically  generates  two real symbols for
          them). However, as these collisions happen on the  ABI  level,  they
          should not degrade quality of the symbol file.

          This pattern is denoted by the symver tag. Well maintained libraries
          have  versioned  symbols  where  each  version  corresponds  to  the
          upstream version where the symbol got added. If that's the case, you
          can use a symver pattern to  match  any  symbol  associated  to  the
          specific version. For example:

          libc.so.6 libc6 #MINVER#
           (symver)GLIBC_2.0 2.0
           (symver)GLIBC_2.7 2.7
           access@GLIBC_2.0 2.2

          All  symbols  associated  with versions GLIBC_2.0 and GLIBC_2.7 will
          lead to minimal  version  of  2.0  and  2.7  respectively  with  the
          exception  of the symbol access@GLIBC_2.0. The latter will lead to a
          minimal dependency on libc6 version 2.2 despite being in  the  scope
          of  the  "(symver)GLIBC_2.0"  pattern  because specific symbols take
          precedence over patterns.

          Please note that while  old  style  wildcard  patterns  (denoted  by
          "*@version" in the symbol name field) are still supported, they have
          been deprecated by new style syntax "(symver|optional)version".  For
          example,     "*@GLIBC_2.0     2.0"     should    be    written    as
          "(symver|optional)GLIBC_2.0 2.0" if the same behaviour is needed.

          Regular expression patterns are denoted by the regex tag. They match
          by the perl regular expression specified in the symbol name field. A
          regular expression is matched as it is, therefore do not  forget  to
          start  it  with the ^ character or it may match any part of the real
          symbol name@version string. For example:

          libdummy.so.1 libdummy1 #MINVER#
           (regex)"^mystack_.*@Base$" 1.0
           (regex|optional)"private" 1.0

          Symbols      like      "mystack_new@Base",      "mystack_push@Base",
          "mystack_pop@Base"  etc.  will be matched by the first pattern while
          e.g. "ng_mystack_new@Base" won't.  The second pattern will match all
          symbols  having the string "private" in their names and matches will
          inherit optional tag from the pattern.

       Basic patterns listed above can be combined where it  makes  sense.  In
       that  case,  they  are  processed  in  the  order in which the tags are
       specified. For example, both

        (c++|regex)"^NSA::ClassA::Private::privmethod\d\(int\)@Base" 1.0
        (regex|c++)N3NSA6ClassA7Private11privmethod\dEi@Base 1.0

       will  match  symbols  "_ZN3NSA6ClassA7Private11privmethod1Ei@Base"  and
       "_ZN3NSA6ClassA7Private11privmethod2Ei@Base".  When  matching the first
       pattern, the raw symbol is first demangled  as  C++  symbol,  then  the
       demangled  name is matched against the regular expression. On the other
       hand, when matching the second pattern, regular expression  is  matched
       against the raw symbol name, then the symbol is tested if it is C++ one
       by attempting to demangle it. A  failure  of  any  basic  pattern  will
       result  in  the  failure of the whole pattern.  Therefore, for example,
       "__N3NSA6ClassA7Private11privmethod\dEi@Base" will not match either  of
       the patterns because it is not a valid C++ symbol.

       In  general,  all  patterns are divided into two groups: aliases (basic
       c++ and symver)  and  generic  patterns  (regex,  all  combinations  of
       multiple  basic  patterns).  Matching  of basic alias-based patterns is
       fast (O(1)) while generic patterns are O(N) (N - generic pattern count)
       for  each  symbol.  Therefore, it is recommended not to overuse generic

       When multiple patterns match the same real symbol, aliases (first  c++,
       then  symver) are preferred over generic patterns. Generic patterns are
       matched in the order they are found in the symbol file  template  until
       the  first  success.   Please  note, however, that manual reordering of
       template  file  entries  is  not  recommended  because  dpkg-gensymbols
       generates diffs based on the alphanumerical order of their names.

   Using includes
       When  the  set of exported symbols differ between architectures, it may
       become inefficient to use a single symbol  file.  In  those  cases,  an
       include directive may prove to be useful in a couple of ways:

       o   You can factorize the common part in some external file and include
           that file in your package.symbols.arch file  by  using  an  include
           directive like this:

           #include "packages.symbols.common"

       o   The include directive may also be tagged like any symbol:

           (tag|...|tagN)#include "file-to-include"

           As  a  result,  all  symbols  included from file-to-include will be
           considered to be tagged with tag ... tagN by default. You  can  use
           this feature to create a common package.symbols file which includes
           architecture specific symbol files:

             common_symbol1@Base 1.0
            (arch=amd64 ia64 alpha)#include "package.symbols.64bit"
            (arch=!amd64 !ia64 !alpha)#include "package.symbols.32bit"
             common_symbol2@Base 1.0

       The symbols files are read line by line,  and  include  directives  are
       processed  as soon as they are encountered. This means that the content
       of the included file can override any content that appeared before  the
       include directive and that any content after the directive can override
       anything contained in the included file. Any symbol  (or  even  another
       #include directive) in the included file can specify additional tags or
       override values  of  the  inherited  tags  in  its  tag  specification.
       However,  there is no way for the symbol to remove any of the inherited

       An included file can repeat the header line containing  the  SONAME  of
       the  library.  In  that  case,  it overrides any header line previously
       read.  However, in general it's best to avoid duplicating header lines.
       One way to do it is the following:

       #include "libsomething1.symbols.common"
        arch_specific_symbol@Base 1.0

   Good library management
       A well-maintained library has the following features:

       o   its  API  is  stable  (public  symbols  are never dropped, only new
           public symbols are added) and changes  in  incompatible  ways  only
           when the SONAME changes;

       o   ideally, it uses symbol versioning to achieve ABI stability despite
           internal changes and API extension;

       o   it doesn't export private  symbols  (such  symbols  can  be  tagged
           optional as workaround).

       While  maintaining the symbols file, it's easy to notice appearance and
       disappearance of symbols. But it's more difficult to catch incompatible
       API  and  ABI  change.  Thus  the maintainer should read thoroughly the
       upstream changelog looking for cases where the rules  of  good  library
       management  have been broken. If potential problems are discovered, the
       upstream author should be notified as an upstream fix is always  better
       than a Debian specific work-around.

              Scan package-build-dir instead of debian/tmp.

              Define  the  package  name.  Required  if  more  than one binary
              package  is  listed  in  debian/control  (or   if   there's   no
              debian/control file).

              Define  the  package  version. Defaults to the version extracted
              from debian/changelog. Required if called outside  of  a  source
              package tree.

              Only  analyze libraries explicitly listed instead of finding all
              public libraries. You can use shell patterns used  for  pathname
              expansions  (see  the File::Glob(3perl) manual page for details)
              in library-file  to  match  multiple  libraries  with  a  single
              argument (otherwise you need multiple -e).

              Prepend  directory  to  the  list  of  directories to search for
              private shared libraries (since dpkg 1.19.1). This option can be
              used multiple times.

              Note:  Use  this  option  instead of setting LD_LIBRARY_PATH, as
              that environment variable is used to control the run-time linker
              and abusing it to set the shared library paths at build-time can
              be problematic when cross-compiling for example.

              Use filename as reference file to generate the symbols file that
              is integrated in the package itself.

              Print  the  generated  symbols  file  to  standard  output or to
              filename if specified, rather than to  debian/tmp/DEBIAN/symbols
              (or   package-build-dir/DEBIAN/symbols   if  -P  was  used).  If
              filename is pre-existing, its contents are used as basis for the
              generated  symbols  file.   You can use this feature to update a
              symbols file so that it matches a newer upstream version of your

       -t     Write  the  symbol  file in template mode rather than the format
              compatible with deb-symbols(5). The main difference is  that  in
              the  template  mode  symbol  names and tags are written in their
              original form contrary to the post-processed symbol  names  with
              tags stripped in the compatibility mode.  Moreover, some symbols
              might be omitted when writing  a  standard  deb-symbols(5)  file
              (according  to  the  tag processing rules) while all symbols are
              always written to the symbol file template.

              Define the checks to do when  comparing  the  generated  symbols
              file  with  the template file used as starting point. By default
              the level is 1. Increasing levels do more checks and include all
              checks  of  lower  levels. Level 0 never fails. Level 1 fails if
              some symbols have disappeared. Level 2 fails if some new symbols
              have  been  introduced.  Level  3  fails  if some libraries have
              disappeared.  Level  4  fails  if  some  libraries   have   been

              This  value  can  be  overridden  by  the  environment  variable

       -q     Keep quiet and never generate a diff between  generated  symbols
              file  and  the  template file used as starting point or show any
              warnings about new/lost  libraries  or  new/lost  symbols.  This
              option  only  disables  informational  output but not the checks
              themselves (see -c option).

       -aarch Assume arch as host architecture when processing  symbol  files.
              Use  this  option  to  generate  a  symbol  file or diff for any
              architecture provided its binaries are already available.

       -d     Enable debug mode. Numerous messages are  displayed  to  explain
              what dpkg-gensymbols does.

       -V     Enable   verbose  mode.  The  generated  symbols  file  contains
              deprecated symbols as comments. Furthermore  in  template  mode,
              pattern  symbols  are  followed by comments listing real symbols
              that have matched the pattern.

       -?, --help
              Show the usage message and exit.

              Show the version and exit.

              Overrides the command check level, even if the  -c  command-line
              argument  was  given  (note  that  this  goes against the common
              convention of  command-line  arguments  having  precedence  over
              environment variables).

              Sets the color mode (since dpkg 1.18.5).  The currently accepted
              values are: auto (default), always and never.

              If set, it will be used to decide  whether  to  activate  Native
              Language  Support,  also known as internationalization (or i18n)
              support (since dpkg 1.19.0).  The accepted values are: 0  and  1

       deb-symbols(5), dpkg-shlibdeps(1).

1.19.7                            2022-05-25                dpkg-gensymbols(1)
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