I am trying to install Oracle SQL Developer onto a Debian Linux server.

I started off by downloading a package from the Oracle website;


I then called the following command to make this into a .deb package.

alien sqldeveloper-

This command ran successfully and created the new file:


To install this package I then called the following:

dpkg -i sqldeveloper_4.

Which outputted the following:

dpkg: warning: downgrading sqldeveloper from to
(Reading database ... 33017 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to replace sqldeveloper (using sqldeveloper_4. ...
Unpacking replacement sqldeveloper ...
dpkg-deb (subprocess): short read on buffer copy for failed to write to pipe in copy
dpkg-deb: subprocess paste returned error exit status 2
dpkg: error processing sqldeveloper_4. (--install):
 short read on buffer copy for backend dpkg-deb during `./opt/sqldeveloper/sqldeveloper/extensions/oracle.datamodeler/lib/pdfbox-app-1.8.0.jar'
Errors were encountered while processing:

I have looked through Google to try and find solutions to this problem and have come across similar issues for errors with --configure and --uninstallbut nothing for--install`.

  • Quick "is it plugged in check": confirm via df that you're not out of disk space and via df -i that you're not out of inodes.
    – derobert
    Mar 30, 2015 at 19:53
  • @derobert That's fine. Still over 4GB space free.
    – James
    Mar 30, 2015 at 19:54
  • dpkg: warning: downgrading sqldeveloper from to tells me you already had SQL Developer installed, using a package created with sqldeveloper-package; what was wrong with that version? Mar 30, 2015 at 22:11
  • @StephenKitt I've ran in to a few problems with the other package when setting it up, for example, the version I currently have isn't compatible with certain elements of Java I have installed.
    – James
    Mar 31, 2015 at 6:31
  • Unfortunately I have never seen Oracle successfully running on Debian. In a previous role it rapidly got to the stage where it became easier simply to install CentOS (or RHEL in our case) and move on with a mixed Debian and CentOS environment. Apr 1, 2015 at 21:32

1 Answer 1


You have used alien to transform the package format from .rpm to .deb.

In the most cases that tool works flawless. But rarely it fails building an installable package. Especially if there are some install or config-scripts included in the .rpm package (which are like the pre and post install/remove scripts in a .deb package).

You didn't tell, whether there were some errors or warnings outputted when running alien.

It can “run successfully” and produce an empty or broken package nevertheless…

If there were some errors or warnings, have a closer look at them. The messages will likely point in the right direction. But for the following I assume there were no errors outputted by alien.

A first check to look for what went wrong would be to extract both package format versions and compare the contents.

First make two temp dirs

mkdir /tmp/sqldeveloper.deb /tmp/sqldeveloper.rpm

Then extract the .deb package

dpkg-deb -X sqldeveloper_4. /tmp/sqldeveloper.deb

And the rpm package

cd /tmp/sqldeveloper.rpm
rpm2cpio sqldeveloper- | cpio -idmv

You can then compare the directories with diff

diff . /tmp/sqldeveloper.deb

If there are files missing in the .deb directory, the package was broken by alien. Maybe ask the developers of that tool for help then.

But how I read the messages outputted by dpkg -i you posted, there is some issue with the packaging by itself, and the file


couldn't be extracted. Maybe the parent directory is missing or there is some wired access rights problem.

I think that problems will show up when you try to extract the .deb archive by hand like shown above.

By the way: it's a java software, and the “Other Platforms” versions which is available for download is a zip archive. It will presumably run without installation when extracted in your home directory.

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