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dh_installdeb - Man Page

install files into the DEBIAN directory


dh_installdeb [debhelper options]


dh_installdeb is a debhelper program that is responsible for installing files into the DEBIAN directories in package build directories with the correct permissions.



These maintainer scripts are installed into the DEBIAN directory.

dh_installdeb will perform substitution of known tokens of the pattern #TOKEN#.  In generally, scripts will want to include the #DEBHELPER# to benefit from the shell scripts generated by debhelper commands (including those from dh_installdeb when it processes package.maintscript files).

The #DEBHELPER# token should be placed on its own line as it is often replaced by a multi-line shell script.


These control files are installed into the DEBIAN directory.

Note that package.shlibs is only installed in compat level 9 and earlier.  In compat 10, please use dh_makeshlibs(1).


This file will be installed into the DEBIAN directory. The provided file will be enriched by debhelper to include all the conffiles auto-detected by debhelper (the maintainer should not list anything there as debhelper assumes it should handle that part).

This file is primarily useful for using "special" entries such as the remove-on-upgrade feature from dpkg.


Lines in this file correspond to dpkg-maintscript-helper(1) commands and parameters.  However, the "maint-script-parameters" should not be included as debhelper will add those automatically.


    # Correct
    rm_conffile /etc/obsolete.conf 0.2~ foo
    rm_conffile /etc/obsolete.conf 0.2~ foo -- "$@"

In compat 10 or later, any shell metacharacters will be escaped, so arbitrary shell code cannot be inserted here.  For example, a line such as mv_conffile /etc/oldconffile /etc/newconffile will insert maintainer script snippets into all maintainer scripts sufficient to move that conffile.

It was also the intention to escape shell metacharacters in previous compat levels.  However, it did not work properly and as such it was possible to embed arbitrary shell code in earlier compat levels.

The dh_installdeb tool will do some basic validation of some of the commands listed in this file to catch common mistakes.  The validation is enabled as a warning since compat 10 and as a hard error in compat 12.

Where possible, dh_installdeb may choose to rewrite some or all of the entries into equivalent features supported in dpkg without relying on maintainer scripts at its sole discretion (examples include rewriting rm_conffile into dpkg's remove-on-upgrade). The minimum requirement for activating this feature is that debhelper runs in compat 10 or later.

Supports substitution variables in compat 13 and later as documented in debhelper(7).



Define tokens to be replaced inside the maintainer scripts when it is generated.  Please note that the limitations described in "Limitations in token names" also applies to tokens defined on the command line.  Invalid token names will trigger an error.

In the simple case, this parameter will cause #TOKEN# to be replaced by VALUE.  If VALUE starts with a literal @-sign, then VALUE is expected to point to a file containing the actual value to insert.

An explicit declared token with this parameter will replace built-in tokens.

Test examples to aid with the understanding:

        cat >> debian/postinst <<EOF
        echo -n "Complex value" > some-file
    dh_installdeb --define SIMPLE=direct --define FILEBASED=@some-file

In this example, #SIMPLE# will expand to direct and #FILEBASED# will expand to Complex value.

It is also possible to set package-specific values for a given token.  This is useful when dh_installdeb is acting on multiple packages that need different values for the same token.  This is done by prefixing the token name with pkg.package-name..

This can be used as in the following example:

        cat >> debian/foo.postinst <<EOF
        # Script for #PACKAGE#
        cat >> debian/bar.postinst <<EOF
        # Script for #PACKAGE#
        cat >> debian/baz.postinst <<EOF
        # Script for #PACKAGE#
    dh_installdeb -pfoo -pbar -pbaz  --define TOKEN=default --define pkg.bar.TOKEN=unique-bar-value \
      --define pkg.baz.TOKEN=unique-baz-value

In this example, #TOKEN# will expand to default in debian/foo.postinst, to unique-bar-value in debian/bar.postinst and to unique-baz-value in debian/baz.postinst.

Note that the #pkg.*# tokens will be visible in all scripts acted on.  E.g. you can refer to #pkg.bar.TOKEN# inside debian/foo.postinst and it will be replaced by unique-bar-value.

Substitution in Maintainer Scripts

The dh_installdeb will automatically replace the following tokens inside a provided maintainer script (if not replaced via -D/--define):


This token is by default replaced with generated shell snippets debhelper commands.  This includes the snippets generated by dh_installdeb from package.maintscript file (if present).


These tokens are replaced with the respective variable from dpkg-architecture(1).  In almost all cases, you will want use the #DEB_HOST_NAME variant in a script to ensure you get the right value when cross-building.

On a best effort, tokens of this pattern that do not match a variable in dpkg-architecture(1) will be left as-is.


These tokens of this form will be replaced with value of the corresponding environment variable.  If the environment variable is unset, the token is replaced with the empty string.

Note that there are limits on which names can be used (see "Limitations in token names").


This token is by default replaced by the package name, which will contain the concrete script.

Limitations in token names

All tokens intended to be substituted must match the regex: #[A-Za-z0-9_.+]+#

Tokens that do not match that regex will be silently ignored if found in the script template.  Invalid token names passed to -D or --define will cause dh_installdeb to reject the command with an error in most cases.

See Also


This program is a part of debhelper.


Joey Hess <joeyh@debian.org>

Referenced By

debhelper(7), debhelper-compat-upgrade-checklist(7), dh_icons(1), dh_installcatalogs(1), dh_installdebconf(1), dh_installdocs(1), dh_installemacsen(1), dh_installinit(1), dh_installinitramfs(1), dh_installmenu(1), dh_installmodules(1), dh_installpam(1), dh_installsystemd(1), dh_installsystemduser(1), dh_installsysusers(1), dh_installtmpfiles(1), dh_installxfonts(1), dh_makeshlibs(1), dh_usrlocal(1), dpkg-maintscript-helper(1).

2024-01-24 13.11.6 Debhelper