ALIEN(1p) User Contributed Perl Documentation ALIEN(1p)
alien - Convert or install an alien binary package
alien [--to-deb] [--to-rpm] [--to-tgz] [--to-slp] [options] file [...]
alien is a program that converts between Red Hat rpm, Debian deb, Stam-
pede 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 pre-
ferred package format and install it. It also supports LSB packages.
alien 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 dif-
ferent distributions, and packages from the different distributions
cannot be used interchangeably. In general, if you can't remove a pack-
age without breaking your system, don't try to replace it with an alien
PACKAGE FORMAT NOTES
rpm For converting to and from rpm format the Red Hat Package Manager
must be installed.
lsb Unlike the other package formats, alien can handle the depenenden-
cies 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 distri-
bution should provide a package by that name, if it is lsb compli-
ant. 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 lsbdev environment.
Note that unlike other package formats, converting an LSB package
to another format will not cause its minor version number to be
deb For converting to (but not from) deb format, the gcc, make, deb-
helper, dpkg-dev, and dpkg packages must be installed.
tgz 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
pkg 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.
alien 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 con-
verting to deb format.
The list of package files to convert.
Make debian packages. This is the default.
Make rpm packages.
Make tgz packages.
Make slp packages.
Make Solaris pkg packages.
Automatically install each generated package, and remove the pack-
age file after it has been installed.
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.
Like -g, but do not generate the packagename.orig directory. This
is only useful when you are very low on disk space and are generat-
ing a debian package.
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 verson 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 descrip-
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
Try to convert the scripts that are meant to be run when the pack-
age 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
This is enabled by default when converting from lsb packages.
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.
By default, alien adds one to the minor version number of each
package it converts. If this option is given, alien will not do
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.
Be verbose: Display each command alien runs in the process of con-
verting a package.
Be verbose as with --verbose, but also display the output of each
command run. Some commands may generate a lot of output.
Display a short usage summary.
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 baz.tgz
Creates 9 new packages. When it is done, foo bar and baz are avail-
able in all 4 package formats.
alien recognizes the following environemnt variables:
Options to pass to rpm when it is building a package.
Options to pass to rpm when it is installing a package.
If set, alien assumes this is your email address. Email addresses
are included in generated debian packages.
When using alien to convert a tgz package, all files in /etc in are
assumed to be configuration files.
If alien is not run as root, the files in the generated package will
have incorrect owners and permissions.
alien was written by Christoph Lameter, <<firstname.lastname@example.org>.
deb to rpm conversion code was taken from the martian program by Ran-
dolph Chung, <<email@example.com>.
The Solaris pkg code was written by Mark A. Hershberger <<mah@every-
alien has been extensively rewritten (3 times) and is now maintained by
Joey Hess, <<firstname.lastname@example.org>.
alien may be copied and modified under the terms of the GNU General
perl v5.8.8 2008-05-01 ALIEN(1p)