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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).
The value of this field determines the package name, and is used
to generate file names by most installation tools.
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).
Should be in the format 'Joe Bloggs <firstname.lastname@example.org>', and is
typically the person who created the package, as opposed to the
author of the software that was packaged.
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', '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 debian-policy package.
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 deb-
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 deb-
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
the dependency of a package of a different arch from itself. The
value allowed allows reverse-dependencies to indicate in their
Depends field that they need a package from a foreign architec-
ture, but has no effect otherwise. This field should not be
present in packages with the Architecture: all field.
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
without using the force options). In an installation, the
postinst scripts of packages listed in Depends: fields are run
before those of the packages which depend on them. On the oppo-
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 fol-
lowed by a version number specification in parentheses.
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 Con-
flicts 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.
This is a list of virtual packages that this one provides. Usu-
ally this is used in the case of several packages all providing
the same service. For example, sendmail and exim can serve as a
mail server, so they provide a common package ('mail-trans-
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 Breaks, Conflicts, Replaces and Provides is a list of
Maintainer: Wichert Akkerman <email@example.com>
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 2011-08-14 deb-control(5)