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Debian GNU/Linux FAQ
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7.1.5 Other package management tools dpkg-deb

This program manipulates Debian archive(.deb) files. Some common uses are:

  • Find out all the options: dpkg-deb --help.
  • Determine what files are contained in a Debian archive file: dpkg-deb --contents foo_VVV-RRR.deb)
  • Extract the files contained in a named Debian archive into a user specified directory: dpkg-deb --extract foo_VVV-RRR.deb tmp extracts each of the files in foo_VVV-RRR.deb into the directory tmp/. This is convenient for examining the contents of a package in a localized directory, without installing the package into the root file system.

Note that any packages that were merely unpacked using dpkg-deb --extract will be incorrectly installed, you should use dpkg --install instead.

More information is given in the manual page dpkg-deb(1). dpkg-split

This program splits large package into smaller files (e.g., for writing onto a set of floppy disks), and can also be used to merge a set of split files back into a single file. It can only be used on a Debian system (i.e. a system containing the dpkg package), since it calls the program dpkg-deb to parse the debian package file into its component records.

For example, to split a big .deb file into N parts,

  • Execute the command dpkg-split --split foo.deb. This will produce N files each of approximately 460 KBytes long in the current directory.
  • Copy those N files to floppy disks.
  • Copy the contents of the floppy disks onto the hard disk of your choice on the other machine.
  • Join those part-files together using dpkg-split --join "foo*".

Debian GNU/Linux FAQ
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