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dh_installdocs - Man Page

install documentation into package build directories


dh_installdocs [debhelper options] [-A] [-Xitem] [file ...]


dh_installdocs is a debhelper program that is responsible for installing documentation into usr/share/doc/package in package build directories.

In compat 10 and earlier, dh_install(1) may be a better tool for handling the upstream documentation, when upstream's own build system installs all the desired documentation correctly.  In this case, dh_installdocs is still useful for installing packaging related documentation (e.g. the debian/copyright file).

From debhelper compatibility level 11 on, dh_install will fall back to looking in debian/tmp for files, if it does not find them in the current directory (or wherever you've told it to look using --sourcedir).

In compat 11 and later, dh_installdocs offers many of the features that dh_install(1) also has.  Furthermore, dh_installdocs also supports the nodoc build profile to exclude documentation (regardless of compat level).



List documentation files to be installed into package.

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


The copyright file is installed into all packages, unless a more specific copyright file is available.


Each of these files is automatically installed if present for a package.


These files are installed into the first binary package listed in debian/control.

Note that README.debian files are also installed as README.Debian, and TODO files will be installed as TODO.Debian in non-native packages.


Installed as doc-base control files. Note that the doc-id will be determined from the Document: entry in the doc-base control file in question. In the event that multiple doc-base files in a single source package share the same doc-id, they will be installed to usr/share/doc-base/package instead of usr/share/doc-base/doc-id.


If your package needs to register more than one document, you need multiple doc-base files, and can name them like this. In the event that multiple doc-base files of this style in a single source package share the same doc-id, they will be installed to usr/share/doc-base/package-* instead of usr/share/doc-base/doc-id.

Please be aware that this deduplication is currently done in memory only, so for now it requires dh_installdocs to be called no more than once during the package build. Calling dh_installdocs -ppackage in combination with using debian/package.doc-base.* files can lead to uninstallable packages. See <https://bugs.debian.org/980903> for details.


-A,  --all

Install all files specified by command line parameters in ALL packages acted on.

-Xitem,  --exclude=item

Exclude files that contain item anywhere in their filename from being installed. Note that this includes doc-base files.


Look in the specified directory for files to be installed.  This option requires compat 11 or later (it is silently ignored in compat 10 or earlier).

Note that this is not the same as the --sourcedirectory option used by the dh_auto_* commands. You rarely need to use this option, since dh_installman automatically looks for files in debian/tmp in debhelper compatibility level 11 and above.


Set the main package for a documentation package.  This is used to install the documentation of the documentation package in /usr/share/doc/main-package as recommended by the Debian policy manual 3.9.7 in §12.3.

In compat 11 (or later), this option is only useful if debhelper's auto-detection of the main package is wrong.  The option can also be used to silence a warning from debhelper when the auto-detection fails but the default happens to be correct.

This option cannot be used when dh_installdocs is instructed to act on multiple packages.  If you need this option, you will generally need to combine it with -p to ensure exactly one package is acted on.

Please keep in mind that some documentation (the copyright file, README.Debian, etc.) will be unaffected by this option.


Make the documentation directory of all packages acted on be a symlink to the documentation directory of package. This has no effect when acting on package itself, or if the documentation directory to be created already exists when dh_installdocs is run. To comply with policy, package must be a binary package that comes from the same source package.

debhelper will try to avoid installing files into linked documentation directories that would cause conflicts with the linked package. The -A option will have no effect on packages with linked documentation directories, and copyright, changelog, README.Debian, and TODO files will not be installed.

(An older method to accomplish the same thing, which is still supported, is to make the documentation directory of a package be a dangling symlink, before calling dh_installdocs.)

Please note that this option only applies to the documentation directory for the package itself.  When the package ships documentation for another package (e.g. see --doc-main-package), it will not use a symlink for the documentation of the other package.

CAVEAT 1: If a previous version of the package was built without this option and is now built with it (or vice-versa), it requires a "dir to symlink" (or "symlink to dir") migration.  Since debhelper has no knowledge of previous versions, you have to enable this migration itself.

This can be done by providing a "debian/package.maintscript" file and using dh_installdeb(1) to provide the relevant maintainer script snippets.

CAVEAT 2: The use of --link-doc should only be done when the packages have same "architecture" type.  A link from an architecture independent package to an architecture dependent package (or vice versa) will not work.  Since compat 10, debhelper will actively reject unsupported combinations.

file ...

Install these files as documentation into the first package acted on. (Or in all packages if -A is specified).


This is an example of a debian/package.docs file:



Note that dh_installdocs will happily copy entire directory hierarchies if you ask it to (similar to cp -a). If it is asked to install a directory, it will install the complete contents of the directory.

See Also


This program is a part of debhelper.


Joey Hess <joeyh@debian.org>

Referenced By


2024-01-24 13.11.6 Debhelper