My Debian package produces a lintian error:

rhythmbox-plugin-alternative-toolbar: extra-license-file usr/lib/rhythmbox/plugins/alternative-toolbar/LICENSE

This is because the source contains the LICENSE file - and Debian rules for packaging state that all license information should be within the copyright file of the package.

I'm using autotools automake for building - my debian/rules looks like this:

#!/usr/bin/make -f

include /usr/share/cdbs/1/rules/autoreconf.mk
include /usr/share/cdbs/1/rules/debhelper.mk
include /usr/share/cdbs/1/rules/utils.mk
include /usr/share/cdbs/1/class/gnome.mk
include /usr/share/gnome-pkg-tools/1/rules/uploaders.mk
include /usr/share/gnome-pkg-tools/1/rules/gnome-version.mk
-include /usr/share/gnome-pkg-tools/1/rules/gnome-get-source.mk

DEB_DH_AUTORECONF_ARGS := --as-needed ./autogen.sh

# List any files which are not installed
common-binary-post-install-arch:: list-missing

My initial thought was to include an override_dh_auto_install statement in the rules to strip out the LICENSE file but this seems to be ignored (or doesn't work) if I add the following at the bottom of the current rules

    find . -name "LICENSE" -delete

Thus to my question - how do I remove the LICENSE file when building a Debian package ?

Note - I don't want to artificially hide the lintian error with some sort of override - I want to ensure the built package doesn’t include the extra LICENSE file.

  • You appear to be using cdbs, not dh, so dh overrides won't work. Lintian isn't complaining about there being a LICENSE file in the source code though, it's complaining about it being installed in the binary package; so if you can remove it from the installed files, you should be OK. (I don't know much about cdbs though so I can't really help.) Dec 21, 2015 at 16:49

1 Answer 1


This question was asked almost 2 years ago, but there aren't any answers. So I will post the solution that I found recently.

Delete the file after calling dh_auto_install:

    find ./debian -type f -name "LICENSE" -delete

Or override another directive that is called after files are staged but before package is built. Here is how I first did it by overriding the dh_md5sums directive:

    find ./debian/<package_name> -type f -name "LICENSE.txt" -delete

Overriding other dh_ directives might work as well.

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