debpkg simply invokes dpkg(1) but first becomes superuser so that dpkg is able to install and remove packages. It also cleans the environment and resets PATH to a sane default: "/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/sbin:/bin:/usr/bin/X11" so that local versions of programs are not run by accident.
debpkg must be given superuser privileges in some way to function properly. Access to debpkg with those privileges is the same as having superuser access to your machine. debpkg will abort if it finds that it neither being run by root nor setuid root.
The devscripts package has been designed to allow debpkg to be made setuid root. This works by using a compiled wrapper script, which means that suidperl is not required. See dpkg-statoverride(8) if you wish to make this program setuid root. sudo or super could also conceivably be used.
Christoph Lameter <firstname.lastname@example.org>; minor modifications made by Julian Gilbey <email@example.com>.
cvs-debi(1), debi(1), devscripts(1).