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Is it feasible to build an RPM package and then utilize alien to create the DEB package rather than investing time in building a DEB package? Or do certain pieces not translate well?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Alien is good in some cases, i.e. you want to install a package fast and there is only a DEB or RPM for that package.

From my experience Alien is not reliable for deploying a package in a distro. i.e. you created a RPM package from your project, and you now want to create a DEB package as well, and not wanting to spend time learning how deb packaging works. And you just use Alien. (it might work well but it has limitations, it depends on what package you throw at it)

What I recommend: If you want to build packages for multiple Linux distributions and multiple architectures the way to go is to use openSUSE Build Service(OBS)

It's philosophy is: "Maintain sources once, offer binaries for any platform". For an overview on what you can do with it watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjOUX0WFkkk , also see OBS Build Tutorial

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It's worth trying, if you have no other starting point. When it works, it works well. But if you think there will be other people who would benefit from the package, it's worth investing the effort to publish a native one.

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Yes, it is feasible.

However, you'd probably be better off using an application like checkinstall to create both package types for your users. There's a few howtos out there, this one on lwn.net and this one on linuxjournal.com.

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I do the opposite (DEB->RPM) and it works fine.

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In my case, it was not working well. Maybe some smaller packages do, but I tried on Debian squeeze to convert from VMWare Server 2 from rpm to deb and it didn't work well. However, I can recommend alien for smaller and maybe older packages; I didn't try to convert new packages.

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