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Debian GNU/Linux FAQ
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6.4 What is a Debian control file?

Specifics regarding the contents of a Debian control file are provided in the Debian Policy Manual, section 5, see What other documentation exists on and for a Debian system?, Section 11.1.

Briefly, a sample control file is shown below for the Debian package hello:

     Package: hello
     Priority: optional
     Section: devel
     Installed-Size: 45
     Maintainer: Adam Heath <[email protected]>
     Architecture: i386
     Version: 1.3-16
     Depends: libc6 (>= 2.1)
     Description: The classic greeting, and a good example
      The GNU hello program produces a familiar, friendly greeting.  It
      allows nonprogrammers to use a classic computer science tool which
      would otherwise be unavailable to them.
      Seriously, though: this is an example of how to do a Debian package.
      It is the Debian version of the GNU Project's `hello world' program
      (which is itself an example for the GNU Project).

The Package field gives the package name. This is the name by which the package can be manipulated by the package tools, and usually similar to but not necessarily the same as the first component string in the Debian archive file name.

The Version field gives both the upstream developer's version number and (in the last component) the revision level of the Debian package of this program as explained in Why are Debian package file names so long?, Section 6.3.

The Architecture field specifies the chip for which this particular binary was compiled.

The Depends field gives a list of packages that have to be installed in order to install this package successfully.

The Installed-Size indicates how much disk space the installed package will consume. This is intended to be used by installation front-ends in order to show whether there is enough disk space available to install the program.

The Section line gives the "section" where this Debian package is stored at the Debian FTP sites. This is the name of a subdirectory (within one of the main directories, see What are all those directories at the Debian FTP archives?, Section 5.1) where the package is stored.

The Priority indicates how important is this package for installation, so that semi-intelligent software like dselect or console-apt can sort the package into a category of e.g. packages optionally installed. See What is an Essential Required, Important, Standard, Optional, or Extra package?, Section 6.7.

The Maintainer field gives the e-mail address of the person who is currently responsible for maintaining this package.

The Description field gives a brief summary of the package's features.

For more information about all possible fields a package can have, please see the Debian Policy Manual, section 5., "Control files and their fields".

Debian GNU/Linux FAQ
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