(Debhelper 7: add information from User:Tanner#debhelper7)
m (Checking Maemo Packages: Maemian link)
Line 21: Line 21:
It contains automated checks for many aspects of Debian policy as well as some checks for common errors. Unfortunately it does not check conformance to the additional Maemo policy.
It contains automated checks for many aspects of Debian policy as well as some checks for common errors. Unfortunately it does not check conformance to the additional Maemo policy.
Currently Maemo is creating [ Maemian] to check its policy.
Currently Maemo is creating [[Maemian]] to check its policy.
= A concrete example - rot13 =
= A concrete example - rot13 =

Revision as of 12:13, 11 February 2010


Creating Packages for Maemo

Since Maemo is based on the Debian operating system, creating packages for Maemo borrows a lot of tools and techniques from Debian.

Further reading

The following list of resources gives in-depth information on packaging in Debian and Maemo. These links largely discuss packaging Python apps but can be used for any programming language.

Checking Maemo Packages

Lintian dissects Debian packages and reports bugs and policy violations. It contains automated checks for many aspects of Debian policy as well as some checks for common errors. Unfortunately it does not check conformance to the additional Maemo policy.

Currently Maemo is creating Maemian to check its policy.

A concrete example - rot13


We assume here that you have a software package which you have developed, and which can be installed from source using a standard
./configure; make; sudo make install

For the purposes of our article, we will be packaging a simple command-lie utility called "rot13", which will perform a simple rot13 cipher on all text input from stdin.

Packaging a .deb

The easiest way to package a .deb file is to use Debian's build helpers.

Package your application as you would distribute it in a .tar.gz (when using autotools, this is done with "make distcheck"). In our example, we uncompress rot13-0.1.tar.gz, and change the current directory to rot13-0.1.

$ tar xfz rot13-0.1.tar.gz
$ cd rot13-0.1

Then we run dh_make, which initialises the Debian package management file structure (among other things):

$ dh_make -e <my email address> -f ../rot13-0.1.tar.gz -c GPL

You can of course choose a different licence for your package.

Answer the resulting questions - in this case, we are packaging a single binary.

We can now edit the files in the debian/ directory which has been created to their desired values, before packaging the software. In fact, we can delete many of these files. All of the files ending in “.ex” or “.EX” are example files, intended to help you package different types of software.

If you use a standard configure script, you do not need to modify any files in here at all.

Before creating a .deb, you should set a changelog entry. .deb changelogs follow a special format, so rather than editing the files by hand, use the dch helper application. This will allow you to add what new features went into this application, give credit, and so on. It is an especially important file because it sets the version and revision of the source and binary packages. On saving, a syntax check is performed which ensures that the resulting file is OK. The file format is completely documented in the Debian packaging guide.

Finally, we generate a .deb from the source code using the command:

dpkg-buildpackage -sa -rfakeroot -k<my email address>

You should now have several files created in the parent directory to where you unpacked the source code. I have;


Now change the target architecture to ARMEL and rebuild it, to generate rot13_0.1-1_arm.deb

Additional information

If you use git then you may not want to include the entire git repo in your source bundle. With dpkg-source version 1.13.25 the -i option is not git-aware so you can do:

 dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot -sa  -i -I.git

You may verify that your Build-Depends field in debian/control is complete by running:

dpkg-depcheck -m dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot -b

in the source tree. (You will need to fakeroot apt-get install devscripts for this to work).

Uploading to extras-devel

Main article: Uploading to Extras-devel

Porting an existing Debian package

Finding your package in Debian

If you want to port a Debian package to Maemo, you should check and see if it is already packaged for Debian and use that package if you can - this will save you time and effort. You can search in Debian's Package Tracking System (PTS) to see if it is there. There is a search system on the PTS page, under the "distribution" drop-down, select 'any', this will search throughout Debian's repositories to find the package. Debian has more than 20,000 packages just in its stable distribution so your application is likely already packaged.

If you find the package already exists in Debian, you can get the source, including the packaging source, with apt-get. To do this, you'll have to edit your /etc/apt/sources.list, you can follow this recipe;

$ echo "deb unstable main contrib non-free" >> /etc/apt/source.list
$ apt-get update
$ apt-cache search "application name"
$ apt-get source "application name"

To learn more about the /etc/apt/sources.list you can do a 'man sources.list' if you are running Debian or a Debian-based GNU/Linux distro.

Modifying a Debian package for Maemo

Once you have the source of the Debian package, you will need to make some modifications to that package for it to build under Maemo. See the Maemo packaging policy for more information.

The maintainer field (in the debian/control file) must be changed if the upstream package is modified, for example:

Maintainer: Tcl/Tk Debian Packagers <>

should be replaced by

Maintainer: My Name <>
XSBC-Original-Maintainer: Tcl/Tk Debian Packagers <>

You must add a new entry to debian/changelog and append maemo1 to the version, for example:

tk8.5 (8.5.8-1) unstable; urgency=low


tk8.5 (8.5.8-1maemo1) fremantle; urgency=low

This indicates that there have been Maemo-specific changes to the packaging. If you upload new changes, you must add a new changelog entry and increment the version number, for example maemo2).

The "Debian way" is to keep all modifications to the package in the package.version.diff.gz file and to leave the .orig.tar.gz file untouched. There are several ways to apply patches with Debian packaging, and some are described in the patching section of the New Maintainer's Guide

However, the .diff.gz cannot store binary files like icons. A possible workaround is to uuencode the binary file, for example (in debian/):

uuencode -m icon.png icon.png  > icon.png.b64

and in the rules file decode the file to debian/icon.png before installation

uudecode debian/icon.png.b64

For this solution you have to add sharutils to the Build-Depends.

If the package should be visible in the Application Manager, the Section field should begin with user/, with the valid sections listed below. You should also add and install a .desktop file for starting the application, if one does not already exist.

Differences between Debian/Ubuntu and Maemo

The are a couple of important differences between a Debian system and Maemo:

  • Busybox:
    Maemo uses busybox to replace most of bsdutils, coreutils, findutils and bash, therefore most of the extended options for the commands and shell are not available. Check the postinstall and other package scripts for such options and try to replace or emulate them.
  • Outdated build and configuration tools:
    the SDK and autobuilder provide only outdated versions of gcc, dpkg, debhelper, cdbs, debconf, ucf and other build tools. Try to replace the Build-Depends in the debian/control file with older versions or use backports like debhelper7
  • Directories for temporary files:
    /tmp is only 900 kB and should only be used for very small temporary files. /var/tmp on the NAND is larger. A new temporary directory in /home/user/ could be even larger. Replace constructs like ${TMP-/tmp} in shell scripts with ${TMP-/var/tmp} (the same applies to mktemp -p /tmp).
  • Optification may confuse programs:
    some programs try to find their data files relative to the binary location. Such a program stored in /opt/maemo/usr/bin/program would search, for instance, in /opt/maemo/usr/share while the actual data may be in /usr/share.
  • Installation in /opt:
    if you want to perform manual optification (e.g. using configure --prefix=/opt/package) you should store "none" in debian/optify and add some to the postinst script which symlinks the binaries and libraries of the package to /usr/bin and lib, respectively.
  • Documentation:
    do not install documentation in /usr/share/doc or /usr/share/info - docpurge will remove it. You may install it in the /opt hierarchy, however.

Maemo-specific packaging information

Packaging policy

Maemo packages follow the Debian Policy, but there are some items where Maemo:

  • Is more strict (it is an embedded distribution)
  • Is more relaxed:
    • A single target device (per release)
    • A single specified UI (Hildon)
    • A single user
  • Differs from Debian because Maemo has different:
    • Objectives
    • Maintainers
    • Infrastructure

Most of the specifics for Maemo packaging are outlined in the Maemo packaging policy. The policy is still in the draft stage, so certain parts are still incomplete or not entirely up to date.


This is the list used in Fremantle/Maemo5 and is the same as the final list for Diablo as discussed in the task.

Key Example English i18n Example apps
user/desktop Desktop Home, statusbar and taskbar applets
user/development Programming py2deb
user/education Education Flashcard apps
user/games Games Doom, Duke Nukem 3D
user/graphics Graphics Photo apps, GIMP, Inkscape, fonts
user/multimedia Multimedia or Sound & Video Canola, mplayer, Kagu, UKMP, MediaBox
user/navigation (Location &) Navigation maemo-mapper, Navit
user/network Internet & Networking Web browsers, Samba clients, OpenAFS, Transmission
user/office Office GPE, Claws, AbiWord
user/science Science gnuplot, Octave
user/system System rotation-support, enhanced kernels, themes
user/utilities Utilities or Accessories Calculators, terminals, text editors

If the package's section starts "user/", but is not any of the above, the Application Manager forces them into an "Other" section.

Maemo-specific fields

There are a number of Maemo-specific package fields that are handled by Application manager. The Application manager documentation outlines them.

Displaying an icon in the Application Manager next to your package

Displaying an icon in the Application Manager next to your package makes it look pretty and makes your package stand out, and it is not that hard to do.

  1. Make an image that is 48x48 pixels. The image can be saved in any format that is supported by GdkPixbufLoader on Maemo, but PNG is commonly used.
  2. base64 encode the image. This can be done in many ways, depending on the platform, but assuming you are in scratchbox:
apt-get update
apt-get install sharutils
uuencode -m <name of 48x48 image> <name of 48x48 image> > <name of 48x48 image>.base64
  1. Add the field XB-Maemo-Icon-26 to your debian/control (in Maemo4 the size of the icons was 26x26, hence the name of the field, which has not changed)
  2. Open the base64 version of your image and copy from the line under begin-base64 644 <name of 48x48 image> to the line above the ===
  3. Add this to the XB-Maemo-Icon-26 field
  4. Add a space in front of every line of the encoded icon

Here is an example of a properly formatted Maemo-Icon-26: (of wrong image size)

Description: Chess...

Bugtracker location

As a requirement for your package being promoted from Extras-testing to Extras, your debian/control file must have a link to a bugtracker. It is possible to request a component at or use a Garage project bugtracker, or even an email address.

  1. Add the field ‘XSBC-Bugtracker’ to your debian/control, for example:

Pretty names

A package can specify a pretty name for itself. This name is displayed in the Application manager UI instead of the real package name.

The pretty name is specified with the 'XSBC-Maemo-Display-Name' field in your debian/control file, for example:

XSBC-Maemo-Display-Name: My package name

Maemo revision string

If an upstream package is re-packaged or modified for Maemo, the Maemo revision string should be appended to the upstream revision, in the debian/changelog file. So if in Debian the package name was something like "Myapp-0.4-2" in maemo this package will be called "Myapp-0.4-2maemo0". The number after the "maemo" string is a progressive number.

Debhelper 7

A backport of Debhelper 7 for Fremantle is available in extras-devel. It works transparently and can coexist with debhelper 5 in the SDK. It even works on the autobuilder, if the package specifies the correct build-dependency of debhelper7. The following lines in debian/rules are necessary to use the new debhelper:

export PATH

Further information about the updated debhelper is available at User:Tanner#debhelper7.

If you also need a more recent CDBS, then use the package cdbs-dh7, which conflicts with the standard CDBS and does not work on autobuilder yet.

Alternatively, you can try to use debhelper 5. Debian packages that require level 7 need some changes, for example:

  • debian/compat: 7 -> 5
  • debian/control: Build-Depends: debhelper (>= 7) -> debhelper (>= 5)
  • Possibly, comment out a few dh_* calls from debian/rules, which might not exist on level 5

Things might get complex if the packaging already uses some new features of level 7, like CDBS-style helper rules. In such cases, looking at versions of packages written prior to the compatibility level upgrade might help doing the downgrade (and most Debian packages are kept in public SCMs like