The .deb format is the Debian binary package file format. It is under-
stood since dpkg 0.93.76, and is generated by default since dpkg 1.2.0
and 1.1.1elf (i386/ELF builds).
The format described here is used since Debian 0.93; details of the old
format are described in deb-old(5).
The file is an ar archive with a magic value of !<arch>. Only the com-
mon ar archive format is supported, with no long file name extensions,
but with file names containing an optional trailing slash, which limits
their length to 15 characters (from the 16 allowed). File sizes are
limited to 10 ASCII decimal digits, allowing for up to approximately
9536.74 MiB member files.
The tar archives currently allowed are, the old-style (v7) format, the
pre-POSIX ustar format, a subset of the GNU format (only the new style
long pathnames and long linknames, supported since dpkg 220.127.116.11), and
the POSIX ustar format (long names supported since dpkg 1.15.0).
Unrecognized tar typeflags are considered an error.
The first member is named debian-binary and contains a series of lines,
separated by newlines. Currently only one line is present, the format
version number, 2.0 at the time this manual page was written. Programs
which read new-format archives should be prepared for the minor number
to be increased and new lines to be present, and should ignore these if
this is the case.
If the major number has changed, an incompatible change has been made
and the program should stop. If it has not, then the program should be
able to safely continue, unless it encounters an unexpected member in
the archive (except at the end), as described below.
The second required member is named control.tar. It is a tar archive
containing the package control information, either not compressed (sup-
ported since dpkg 1.17.6), or compressed with gzip (with .gz extension)
or xz (with .xz extension, supported since 1.17.6), as a series of
plain files, of which the file control is mandatory and contains the
core control information. The control tarball may optionally contain an
entry for `.', the current directory.
The third, last required member is named data.tar. It contains the
filesystem as a tar archive, either not compressed (supported since
dpkg 1.10.24), or compressed with gzip (with .gz extension), xz (with
.xz extension, supported since dpkg 1.15.6), bzip2 (with .bz2 exten-
sion, supported since dpkg 1.10.24) or lzma (with .lzma extension, sup-
ported since dpkg 1.13.25).
These members must occur in this exact order. Current implementations
deb-old(5), dpkg-deb(1), deb-control(5).
Debian Project 2013-08-08 deb(5)
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