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Debian GNU/Linux Reference Guide
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2.2.5 Debian maintenance scripts

Debian maintenance scripts are executable scripts which are automatically run before or after a package is installed. Along with a file named control, all of these files are part of the "control" section of a Debian archive file.

The individual files are:


This script executes before its package is unpacked from its Debian archive (.deb) file. Many "preinst" scripts stop services for packages which are being upgraded until their installation or upgrade is completed (following the successful execution of the "postinst" script).


This script typically completes any required configuration of a package once it has been unpacked from its Debian archive (.deb) file. Often, "postinst" scripts ask the user for input, and/or warn the user that if he accepts default values, he should remember to go back and reconfigure the package as the situation warrants. Many "postinst" scripts then execute any commands necessary to start or restart a service once a new package has been installed or upgraded.


This script typically stops any daemons which are associated with a package. It is executed before the removal of files associated with the package.


This script typically modifies links or other files associated with a package, and/or removes files created by it. (Also see Virtual packages, Section 2.2.7.)

Currently all of the control files can be found in the directory /var/lib/dpkg/info. The files relevant to package foo begin with the name "foo" and have file extensions of "preinst", "postinst", etc., as appropriate. The file foo.list in that directory lists all of the files that were installed with the package foo. (Note that the location of these files is a dpkg internal, and may be subject to change.)

Debian GNU/Linux Reference Guide
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