Each Debian source package contains the master "control" file, which
contains at least 2 paragraphs, separated by a blank line. The first
paragraph lists all information about the source package in general,
while each following paragraph describes exactly one binary package.
Each paragraph consists of at least one field. A field starts with a
fieldname, such as Package or Section (case insensitive), followed by a
colon, the body of the field and a newline. Multi-line fields are also
allowed, but each supplementary line, without a fieldname, should start
with at least one space. The content of the multi-line fields is gener-
ally joined to a single line by the tools (except in the case of the
Description field, see below). To insert empty lines into a multi-line
field, insert a dot after the space. Lines starting with a '#' are
treated as comments.
Source: source-package-name (required)
The value of this field is the name of the source package, and
should match the name of the source package in the
debian/changelog file. A package name must consist only of lower
case letters (a-z), digits (0-9), plus (+) and minus (-) signs,
and periods (.). Package names must be at least two characters
long and must start with an alphanumeric character.
Maintainer: fullname-email (required)
Should be in the format "Joe Bloggs <firstname.lastname@example.org>", and ref-
erences the person who currently maintains the package, as
opposed to the author of the software or the original packager.
Lists all the names and email addresses of co-maintainers of the
package, in the same format as the Maintainer field. Multiple
co-maintainers should be separated by a comma.
This documents the most recent version of the standards (which
consists of the Debian Policy Manual and referenced texts from
the debian-policy package) this package complies to.
The upstream project home page URL.
The url of the bug tracking system for this package. The current
used format is bts-type://bts-address, like deb-
The url of a webinterface to browse the Version Control System
The name of the distribution this package is originating from.
This field is usually not needed.
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", "extra", etc.
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
A list of packages that need to be installed and configured to
be able to build the source package. Including a dependency in
this list has the same effect as including it in both
Build-Depends-Arch and Build-Depends-Indep, with the additional
effect of being used for source-only builds.
Build-Depends-Arch: package list
Same as Build-Depends, but they are only needed when building
the architecture dependent packages. The Build-Depends are also
installed in this case. This field is supported since dpkg
1.16.4; in order to build with older dpkg versions,
Build-Depends should be used instead.
Same as Build-Depends, but they are only needed when building
the architecture independent packages. The Build-Depends are
also installed in this case.
Build-Conflicts: package list
A list of packages that should not be installed when the package
is built, for example because they interfere with the build sys-
tem used. Including a dependency in this list has the same
effect as including it in both Build-Conflicts-Arch and
Build-Conflicts-Indep, with the additional effect of being used
The syntax of the Build-Depends, Build-Depends-Arch and
Build-Depends-Indep fields is a list of groups of alternative packages.
Each group is a list of packages 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 a version number specification
in parentheses, an architecture specification in square brackets, and a
profile specification in angle brackets.
The syntax of the Build-Conflicts, Build-Conflicts-Arch and Build-Con-
flicts-Indep fields is a list of comma-separated package names, where
the comma is read as an "AND". Specifying alternative packages using a
"pipe" is not supported. Each package name is optionally followed by a
version number specification in parentheses, an architecture specifica-
tion in square brackets, and a profile specification in angle brackets.
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.
An architecture specification consists of one or more architecture
names, separated by whitespace. Exclamation marks may be prepended to
each of the names, meaning "NOT".
A profile specification consists of one or more profile names, prefixed
with the "profile." namespace, separated by whitespace. Exclamation
marks may be prepended to each of the names, meaning "NOT".
Note that dependencies on packages in the build-essential set can be
omitted and that declaring build conflicts against them is impossible.
A list of these packages is in the build-essential package.
Note that the Priority, Section and Homepage fields can also be in a
binary paragraph to override the global value from the source package.
Package: binary-package-name (required)
This field is used to name the binary package name. The same
restrictions as to a source package name apply.
Architecture: arch|all|any (required)
The architecture specifies on which type of hardware this pack-
age runs. For packages that run on all architectures, use the
any value. For packages that are architecture independent, such
as shell and Perl scripts or documentation, use the all value.
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
Description: short-description (required)
These fields are described in the deb-control(5) manual page, as
they are copied literally to the control file of the binary
These fields declare relationships between packages. They are
discussed in the deb-control(5) manpage and in the debian-policy
It is allowed to add additional user-defined fields to the control
file. The tools will ignore these fields. If you want the fields to be
copied over to the output files, such as the binary packages, you need
to use a custom naming scheme: the fields should start with a X, fol-
lowed by one or more of the letters BCS and a hypen. If the letter B is
used, the field will appear in the control file in the binary package,
see deb-control(5), for the letter S in the source package control file
as constructed by dpkg-source(1) and for the letter C in the upload
control (.changes) file. Note that the X[BCS]- prefixes are stripped
when the fields are copied over to the output files. A field
XC-Approved-By will appear as Approved-By in the changes file and will
not appear in the binary or source package control files.
Take into account that these user-defined fields will be using the
global namespace, which might at some point in the future collide with
officially recognized fields. To avoid such potential situation you can
prefix those fields with Private-, such as XB-Private-New-Field, which
as a side effect will make dpkg-deb not warn on them as unknown fields.
Build-Depends: pkg-config, debhelper (>= 4.1.81),
libselinux1-dev (>= 1.28-4) [!linux-any]
# this is a custom field in the binary package
XB-Mentoring-Contact: Raphael Hertzog <email@example.com>
Depends: dpkg (>= 1.14.6), perl5, perl-modules, cpio (>= 2.4.2-2),
bzip2, lzma, patch (>= 2.2-1), make, binutils, libtimedate-perl
Recommends: gcc | c-compiler, build-essential
Suggests: gnupg, debian-keyring
Conflicts: dpkg-cross (<< 2.0.0), devscripts (<< 2.10.26)
Replaces: manpages-pl (<= 20051117-1)
Description: Debian package development tools
This package provides the development tools (including dpkg-source)
required to unpack, build and upload Debian source packages.
Most Debian source packages will require additional tools to build;
for example, most packages need make and the C compiler gcc.
deb-control(5), deb-version(5), dpkg-source(1)
Debian Project 2013-09-17 deb-src-control(5)
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