debbuild was written to be able to create packages that will install cleanly on Debian systems without going through the head-beating I found was required to follow the Debian New Maintainer's Guide, and pretty much any other Debian packaging guide. (Things seem to have gotten better since I originally started debbuild.) It uses the build process and command-line options of rpmbuild, but produces packages that will install on Debian systems. Please note, it is theoretically possible to create Debian Packages with debbuild (or at least, .deb packages that comply with  Debian Policy), however no particular effort was made in this direction.

As an interesting bonus, if you're careful about filesystem paths, commands, pre/post/(un)install scripts, etc, etc, you may be able to write one spec file that you can use to create packages that will install and work correctly on both Debian(ish) and RedHat(ish) systems - and any derivatives or relatives that follow  FHS guidelines.

I consider debbuild pretty much mature and complete - it does what I wrote it to do, and I'll only tweak it if I find a new edge case that's handled badly, or discover that some feature I've copy-pasted from a .spec file I used on an RPM-based distro doesn't work.


Lightly retouched POD


debbuild is just a Perl script. So long as the handful of supporting system binaries are available, it should work fine just downloaded and dropped in a handy place. Get the latest version from SVN:


Debian dependencies:


  • perl
  • build-essential
  • pax (used for .sdeb source packages)
  • fakeroot


  • patch
  • bzip2


  • rpm (to confirm your .spec file is really sane)
  • subversion

A tarball including a spec file to build a debbuild package:

Or check out from SVN:


A demo tarball I've been using to test debbuild against rpmbuild's behaviour.
 empty.tar.gz (Yes, it's somewhat misnamed.)

debbuild is distributed under the terms of the  GNU GPL version 2+.