format is the Debian binary package file format. It is understood by
dpkg 0.93.76 and later, and is generated by default by all versions
of dpkg since 1.2.0 and all i386/ELF versions since 1.1.1elf.
The format described here is used since Debian 0.93; details of the
old format are described in
The file is an
archive with a magic number of
R !<arch> .
The first member is named
and contains a series of lines, separated by newlines. Currently only
one line is present, the format version number,
at the time this manual page was written.
Programs which read new-format archives should be prepared for the
minor number to be increased and new lines to be present, and should
ignore these if this is the case.
If the major number has changed, an incompatible change has been made
and the program should stop. If it has not, then the program should
be able to safely continue, unless it encounters an unexpected member
in the archive (except at the end), as described below.
The second required member is named
R control.tar.gz .
It is a gzipped tar archive containing the package control information,
as a series of plain files, of which the file
is mandatory and contains the core control information. The control
tarball may optionally contain an entry for
the current directory.
The third, last required member is named
R data.tar.gz .
It contains the filesystem archive as a gzipped tar archive.
These members must occur in this exact order. Current implementations
should ignore any additional members after
R data.tar.gz .
Further members may be defined in the future, and (if possible) will be
placed after these three. Any additional members that may need to be
and which should be safely ignored by older programs, will have names
starting with an underscore,
Those new members which won't be able to be safely ignored will be
with names starting with something other than underscores, or will
(more likely) cause the major version number to be increased.