Each Debian package contains the master control file, which contains a
number of fields, or comments when the line starts with '#'. Each
field begins with a tag, such as Package or Version (case insensitive),
followed by a colon, and the body of the field. Fields are delimited
only by field tags. In other words, field text may be multiple lines in
length, but the installation tools will generally join lines when pro-
cessing the body of the field (except in the case of the Description
field, see below).
Package: package-name (required)
The value of this field determines the package name, and is used
to generate file names by most installation tools.
Version: version-string (required)
Typically, this is the original package's version number in
whatever form the program's author uses. It may also include a
Debian revision number (for non-native packages). The exact for-
mat and sorting algorithm are described in deb-version(5).
Maintainer: fullname-email (required)
Should be in the format "Joe Bloggs <email@example.com>", and is
typically the person who created the package, as opposed to the
author of the software that was packaged.
Description: short-description (required)
The format for the package description is a short brief summary
on the first line (after the Description field). The following
lines should be used as a longer, more detailed description.
Each line of the long description must be preceded by a space,
and blank lines in the long description must contain a single
'.' following the preceding space.
This is a general field that gives the package a category based
on the software that it installs. Some common sections are
utils, net, mail, text, x11, etc.
Sets the importance of this package in relation to the system as
a whole. Common priorities are required, standard, optional,
In Debian, the Section and Priority fields have a defined set of
accepted values based on the Policy Manual. A list of these values can
be obtained from the latest version of the debian-policy package.
This field is usually only needed when the answer is yes. It
denotes a package that is required for proper operation of the
powerpc, etc. Note that the all option is meant for packages
that are architecture independent. Some examples of this are
shell and Perl scripts, and documentation.
The name of the distribution this package is originating from.
The url of the bug tracking system for this package. The current
used format is bts-type://bts-address, like
The upstream project home page url.
List of tags describing the qualities of the package. The
description and list of supported tags can be found in the
This field is used to indicate how this package should behave on
a multi-arch installations. The value same means that the pack-
age is co-installable with itself, but it must not be used to
satisfy the dependency of any package of a different architec-
ture from itself. The value foreign means that the package is
not co-installable with itself, but should be allowed to satisfy
a non-arch-qualified dependency of a package of a different arch
from itself (if a dependency has an explicit arch-qualifier then
the value foreign is ignored). The value allowed allows
reverse-dependencies to indicate in their Depends field that
they accept a package from a foreign architecture by qualifying
the package name with :any, but has no effect otherwise. The
value no is the default when the field is omitted, in which case
adding the field with an explicit no value is generally not
The name of the source package that this binary package came
from, if different than the name of the package itself.
These fields are used by the debian-installer and are usually
not needed. See /usr/share/doc/debian-installer/devel/mod-
ules.txt from the debian-installer package for more details
List of packages that are required for this package to provide a
non-trivial amount of functionality. The package maintenance
software will not allow a package to be installed if the pack-
ages listed in its Depends field aren't installed (at least not
Lists packages that would be found together with this one in all
but unusual installations. The package maintenance software will
warn the user if they install a package without those listed in
its Recommends field.
Lists packages that are related to this one and can perhaps
enhance its usefulness, but without which installing this pack-
age is perfectly reasonable.
The syntax of Depends, Pre-Depends, Recommends and Suggests fields is a
list of groups of alternative packages. Each group is a list of pack-
ages separated by vertical bar (or "pipe") symbols, '|'. The groups
are separated by commas. Commas are to be read as "AND", and pipes as
"OR", with pipes binding more tightly. Each package name is optionally
followed by an architecture qualifier appended after a colon ':',
optionally followed by a version number specification in parentheses.
An architecture qualifier name can be a real Debian architecture name
(since dpkg 1.16.5) or any (since dpkg 1.16.2). If omitted, the
default is the current binary package architecture. A real Debian
architecture name will match exactly that architecture for that package
name, any will match any architecture for that package name if the
package has been marked as Multi-Arch: allowed.
A version number may start with a '>>', in which case any later version
will match, and may specify or omit the Debian packaging revision (sep-
arated by a hyphen). Accepted version relationships are '>>' for
greater than, '<<' for less than, '>=' for greater than or equal to,
'<=' for less than or equal to, and '=' for equal to.
Lists packages that this one breaks, for example by exposing
bugs when the named packages rely on this one. The package main-
tenance software will not allow broken packages to be config-
ured; generally the resolution is to upgrade the packages named
in a Breaks field.
Lists packages that conflict with this one, for example by con-
taining files with the same names. The package maintenance soft-
ware will not allow conflicting packages to be installed at the
same time. Two conflicting packages should each include a
Conflicts line mentioning the other.
List of packages files from which this one replaces. This is
used for allowing this package to overwrite the files of another
package and is usually used with the Conflicts field to force
removal of the other package, if this one also has the same
files as the conflicted package.
The syntax of Breaks, Conflicts and Replaces is a list of package
port-agent") on which other packages can depend. This will
allow sendmail or exim to serve as a valid option to satisfy the
dependency. This prevents the packages that depend on a mail
server from having to know the package names for all of them,
and using '|' to separate the list.
The syntax of Provides is a list of package names, separated by commas
(and optional whitespace). An optional architecture qualifier can also
be appended to the package name with the same syntax as above. If
omitted, the default is the current binary package architecture. An
optional exact (equal to) version can also be given with the same syn-
tax as above (honored since dpkg 1.17.11).
This field lists extra source packages that were used during the
build of this binary package. This is an indication to the ar-
chive maintenance software that these extra source packages must
be kept whilst this binary package is maintained. This field
must be a list of source package names with strict '=' version
relationships. Note that the archive maintenance software is
likely to refuse to accept an upload which declares a
Built-Using relationship which cannot be satisfied within the
Maintainer: Wichert Akkerman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Pre-Depends: libc6 (>= 2.0.105)
Description: GNU grep, egrep and fgrep.
The GNU family of grep utilities may be the "fastest grep in the west".
GNU grep is based on a fast lazy-state deterministic matcher (about
twice as fast as stock Unix egrep) hybridized with a Boyer-Moore-Gosper
search for a fixed string that eliminates impossible text from being
considered by the full regexp matcher without necessarily having to
look at every character. The result is typically many times faster
than Unix grep or egrep. (Regular expressions containing backreferencing
will run more slowly, however).
deb(5), deb-version(5), debtags(1), dpkg(1), dpkg-deb(1).
Debian Project 2013-12-20 deb-control(5)
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