I wand to build multiple .deb packages from same source for different versions and distros. Even if the source code is exactly same, some files in debian folder can not be shared because different dependency and distro name.

So, I want to make multiple 'debian' directories for each version/distro and specify where to search it when build package. Is it possible?

For your information, I'm using debuild command to build .deb package.

2 Answers 2


Using different branches is one approach, and I can suggest edits for @mestia’s answer if it seems appropriate (but read on...).

Another approach is to keep different files side-by-side; see Solaar for an example of this.

But both of these approaches have a significant shortcoming: they’re unsuitable for packages in Debian or Ubuntu (or probably other derivatives). If you intend on getting your package in a distribution some day, you should package it in such a way that the same set of files produces the correct result in the various distributions.

For an example of this, have a look at the Debian packaging for Solaar (full disclosure: I did the packaging).

The general idea is to ask dpkg-vendor what the distribution is; so for Solaar, which has different dependencies in Debian and Ubuntu, debian/rules has

derives_from_ubuntu := $(shell (dpkg-vendor --derives-from Ubuntu && echo "yes") || echo "no")

and further down an override for dh_gencontrol to fill in “substvars” as appropriate:

ifeq ($(derives_from_ubuntu),yes)
        dh_gencontrol -- '-Vsolaar:Desktop-Icon-Theme=gnome-icon-theme-full | oxygen-icon-theme-complete' -Vsolaar:Gnome-Icon-Theme=gnome-icon-theme-full
        dh_gencontrol -- '-Vsolaar:Desktop-Icon-Theme=gnome-icon-theme | oxygen-icon-theme' -Vsolaar:Gnome-Icon-Theme=gnome-icon-theme

This fills in the appropriate variables in debian/control:

Package: solaar
Architecture: all
Depends: ${misc:Depends}, ${debconf:Depends}, udev (>= 175), passwd | adduser,
 ${python:Depends}, python-pyudev (>= 0.13), python-gi (>= 3.2), gir1.2-gtk-3.0 (>= 3.4),


Package: solaar-gnome3
Architecture: all
Section: gnome
Depends: ${misc:Depends}, solaar (= ${source:Version}),
 gir1.2-appindicator3-0.1, gnome-shell (>= 3.4) | unity (>= 5.10),

You can use the test in debian/rules to control any action you can do in a makefile, which means you can combine this with alternative files and, for example, link the appropriate files just before they’re used in the package build.


Probably you can go with git-buildpackage and keep the different debian directories in different branches.

  • 3
    I'd suggest adding an example of how to do this, or at least a few links to where you can find more instructions on using git-buildpacakge.
    – derobert
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 21:39

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