alien - Convert or install an alien binary package
alien [--to-deb] [--to-rpm] [--to-tgz] [--to-slp] [options] file [...]
is a program that converts between Red Hat rpm, Debian deb,
Stampede slp, Slackware tgz, and Solaris pkg file formats. If you want to use
a package from another linux distribution than the one you have installed on
your system, you can use alien
to convert it to your preferred package
format and install it. It also supports LSB packages.
should not be used to replace important system packages, like init,
libc, or other things that are essential for the functioning of your system.
Many of these packages are set up differently by the different distributions,
and packages from the different distributions cannot be used interchangeably.
In general, if you can't remove a package without breaking your system, don't
try to replace it with an alien version.
- For converting to and from rpm format the Red Hat Package
Manager must be installed.
- Unlike the other package formats, alien can handle
the depenendencies of lsb packages if the destination package format
supports dependencies. Note that this means that the package generated
from a lsb package will depend on a package named "lsb" -- your
distribution should provide a package by that name, if it is lsb
compliant. The scripts in the lsb package will be converted by default as
To generate lsb packages, the Red Hat Package Manager must be installed, and
alien will use by preference a program named lsb-rpm, if it exists.
No guarantees are made that the generated lsb packages will be fully LSB
compliant, and it's rather unlikely they will unless you build them in the
Note that unlike other package formats, converting an LSB package to another
format will not cause its minor version number to be changed.
- For converting to (but not from) deb format, the gcc, make,
debhelper, dpkg-dev, and dpkg packages must be installed.
- Note that when converting from the tgz format, alien
will simply generate an output package that has the same files in it as
are in the tgz file. This only works well if the tgz file has precompiled
binaries in it in a standard linux directory tree. Do NOT run alien
on tar files with source code in them, unless you want this source code to
be installed in your root directory when you install the package!
When using alien to convert a tgz package, all files in /etc in are
assumed to be configuration files.
- To manipulate packages in the Solaris pkg format (which is
really the SV datastream package format), you will need the Solaris
pkginfo and pkgtrans tools.
will convert all the files you pass into it into all the output
types you specify. If no output type is specified, it defaults to converting
to deb format.
- file [...]
- The list of package files to convert.
- -d, --to-deb
- Make debian packages. This is the default.
- -r, --to-rpm
- Make rpm packages.
- -t, --to-tgz
- Make tgz packages.
- Make slp packages.
- -p, --to-pkg
- Make Solaris pkg packages.
- -i, --install
- Automatically install each generated package, and remove
the package file after it has been installed.
- -g, --generate
- Generate a temporary directory suitable for building a
package from, but do not actually create the package. This is useful if
you want to move files around in the package before building it. The
package can be built from this temporary directory by running
"debian/rules binary", if you were creating a Debian package, or
by running "rpmbuild -bb <packagename>.spec" if you were
creating a Red Hat package.
- -s, --single
- Like -g, but do not generate the packagename.orig
directory. This is only useful when you are very low on disk space and are
generating a debian package.
- -c, --scripts
- Try to convert the scripts that are meant to be run when
the package is installed and removed. Use this with caution, because these
scripts might be designed to work on a system unlike your own, and could
cause problems. It is recommended that you examine the scripts by hand and
check to see what they do before using this option.
This is enabled by default when converting from lsb packages.
- Specify the patch to be used instead of automatically
looking the patch up in /var/lib/alien. This has no effect unless a
debian package is being built.
- Be less strict about which patch file is used, perhaps
attempting to use a patch file for an older version of the package. This
is not guaranteed to always work; older patches may not necessarily work
with newer packages.
- Do not use any patch files.
- Specifiy a description for the package. This only has an
effect when converting from the tgz package format, which lacks
- Specifiy a version for the package. This only has an effect
when converting from the tgz package format, which may lack version
Note that without an argument, this displays the version of alien
- -T, --test
- Test the generated packages. Currently this is only
supported for debian packages, which, if lintian is installed, will be
tested with lintian and lintian's output displayed.
- -k, --keep-version
- By default, alien adds one to the minor version
number of each package it converts. If this option is given, alien
will not do this.
- Instead of incrementing the version number of the converted
package by 1, increment it by the given number.
- Sanitize all file owners and permissions when building a
deb. This may be useful if the original package is a mess. On the other
hand, it may break some things to mess with their permissions and owners
to the degree this does, so it defaults to off. This can only be used when
converting to debian packages.
- Force the architecture of the generated package to the
- -v, --verbose
- Be verbose: Display each command alien runs in the
process of converting a package.
- Be verbose as with --verbose, but also display the output
of each command run. Some commands may generate a lot of output.
- -h, --help
- Display a short usage summary.
- -V, --version
- Display the version of alien.
Here are some examples of the use of alien
- alien --to-deb package.rpm
- Convert the package.rpm into a package.deb
- alien --to-rpm package.deb
- Convert the package.deb into a package.rpm
- alien -i package.rpm
- Convert the package.rpm into a package.deb (converting to a
.deb package is default, so you need not specify --to-deb), and install
the generated package.
- alien --to-deb --to-rpm --to-tgz --to-slp foo.deb bar.rpm
- Creates 9 new packages. When it is done, foo bar and baz
are available in all 4 package formats.
recognizes the following environment variables:
- Options to pass to rpm when it is building a package.
- Options to pass to rpm when it is installing a
- If set, alien assumes this is your email address.
Email addresses are included in generated debian packages.
was written by Christoph Lameter,
deb to rpm conversion code was taken from the martian program by Randolph Chung,
The Solaris pkg code was written by Mark A. Hershberger
alien has been extensively rewritten (3 times) and is now maintained by Joey
alien may be copied and modified under the terms of the GNU General Public