Manpage of DEBDIFF


Section: User Commands (1)
Updated: Debian Utilities
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debdiff - compare file lists in two Debian packages  


debdiff [options] ... deb1 deb2
debdiff [options] ... changes1 changes2
debdiff [options] ... --from deb1a deb1b ... --to deb2a deb2b ...
debdiff [options] ... dsc1 dsc2  


debdiff takes the names of two Debian package files (.debs) on the command line and compares their contents (considering only the files in the main package, not the maintenance scripts). It shows which files have been introduced and which removed between the two package files, and is therefore useful for spotting files which may have been inadvertently lost between revisions of the package. It also compares the control files of the two packages using the wdiff program.

debdiff can also handle changes between groups of .deb files in two ways. The first is to specify two .changes files. In this case, the .deb files listed in the .changes file will be compared, by taking the contents of all of the listed .deb files together. (The .deb files listed are assumed to be in the same directory as the .changes file.) The second way is to list the .deb files of interest specifically using the --from ... --to syntax. These both help if a package is broken up into smaller packages and one wishes to ensure that nothing is lost in the interim. The control files are compared in both of these cases only when there is only one .deb involved on each side of the comparison.

debdiff examines the devscripts configuration files as described below. Command line options override the configuration file settings, though.

If debdiff is passed two source packages (.dsc files) it will compare the contents of the source packages.  


--help, -h
Show a summary of options.
--version, -v
Show version and copyright information.
--dirs, -d
The default mode of operation is to ignore directory names which appear in the filelist, but they, too, will be considered if this option is given.
Ignore directory names which appear in the filelist. This is the default and it can be used to override a configuration file setting.
--move FROM TO, -m FROM TO
It sometimes occurs that various files or directories are moved around between revisions. This can be handled using this option. There are two arguments, the first giving the location of the directory or file in the first package, and the second in the second. Any files in the first listing whose names begin with the first argument are treated as having that substituted for the second argument when the file lists are compared. Any number of --move arguments may be given; they are processed in the order in which they appear.
If debdiff is called with two .deb files specified by name, then it will compare the respective control files using wdiff(1). This option suppresses this part of the processing.
Compare the respective control files; this is the default, and it can be used to override a configuration file setting.
--wp, --wl, --wt
Pass a -p, -l or -t option to wdiff respectively. (This yields the whole wdiff output rather than just the lines with any changes.)
If multiple .deb files are specified on the command line, either using .changes files or the --from/--to syntax, then this option will also show which files (if any) have moved between packages. (The package names are simply determined from the names of the .deb files.)
The default behaviour; can be used to override a configuration file setting.
--renamed FROM TO
If --show-moved is being used and a package has been renamed in the process, this command instructs debdiff to treat the package in the first list called FROM as if it were called TO. Multiple uses of this option are permitted.


The two configuration files /etc/devscripts.conf and ~/.devscripts are sourced by a shell in that order to set configuration variables. Command line options can be used to override configuration file settings. Environment variable settings are ignored for this purpose. The currently recognised variables are:
If this is set to yes, then it is the same as the --dirs command line parameter being used.
If this is set to no, then it is the same as the --nocontrol command line parameter being used. The default is yes.
If this is set to yes, then it is the same as the --show-moved command line parameter being used.
This option will be passed to wdiff; it should be one of -p, -l or -t.


Normally the exit value will be 0. If there is some fatal error, the exit code will be non-zero.  


dpkg-deb(1), wdiff(1).  


debdiff was originally written as a shell script by Yann Dirson <> and rewritten in Perl with many more features by Julian Gilbey <>. The software may be freely redistributed under the terms and conditions of the GNU General Public Licence, version 2.




This document was created by man2html, using the manual pages.
Time: 19:23:48 GMT, December 08, 2021