Whenever I'm writing a software package related question or answer, I ask myself how to call those .deb files, since everybody keeps calling them what he wants. Options I came up with are:

  • deb package
  • .deb package
  • debian package
  • software package
  • debian software package (although this doesn't have to be always true...)
  • dpkg package

What would be a good way to call them? / Is there any "official" name?

  • 2
    Why did you ask this on meta? – Seth Dec 30 '14 at 17:20
  • Because it's about how to call them on AU. – s3lph Dec 30 '14 at 17:21
  • 1
    I usually call them .deb files, but if i do go with the Debian <something>, I capitalise the D. – muru Dec 30 '14 at 18:39
  • 2
    Voting for .deb files. – Jacob Vlijm Dec 30 '14 at 18:57
  • 2
    Can you post the options as individual answers so that we can vote on them? – muru Dec 30 '14 at 22:29
  • @muru - I'll do that and see what happens :) – Wilf Dec 31 '14 at 2:17
  • Related: man 5 deb – muru Dec 31 '14 at 2:31
  • 5
    I still don't understand why this question was asked.. Are you trying to force (for lack of a better word) people across AU into calling them some agreed upon way? Why does it matter to the site what people call them? – Seth Jan 3 '15 at 4:05
  • I'm unlikely to get confused regardless of which of these choices are used and am declining to vote as I believe the question isn't really relevant. – Elder Geek Jan 8 '15 at 17:12
  • I'm used to with 1, 2, 3 and 5 – Mostafiz Rahman Jan 9 '15 at 13:17

13 Answers 13


Vote for this answer if you think it should be:

Debian package

  • 3
    :D <----------? – Wilf Dec 31 '14 at 2:27
  • 1
    A vote for that comment too! :D – muru Dec 31 '14 at 2:28
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    The problem with “Debian package” is that saying that an Ubuntu package is a Debian package is confusing — an Ubuntu binary package is a package in the Debian binary package format, but it is not a package from the Debian distribution. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jan 5 '15 at 17:40
  • 1
    The official Ubuntu docs call them "Debian package files" (or "package files" for short) regardless of which distro's repository they call home. help.ubuntu.com/14.04/serverguide/… – Steven K Jan 5 '15 at 23:37
  • 1
    Here they call them just "packages" (not "Debian packages"): help.ubuntu.com/community/InstallingSoftware – lofidevops Jan 8 '15 at 15:18

Vote for this answer if you think it should be:

.deb package

  • I think this confuses the concept and the file format - I'd suggest either "package" or ".deb file", with preference to "package" – lofidevops Jan 8 '15 at 15:26

Debian seems to call them Debian package or ".deb" file as evidenced in their FAQ question:

4.5 Can I use Debian packages (".deb" files) on my Red Hat/Slackware/... Linux system? Can I use Red Hat packages (".rpm" files) on my Debian GNU/Linux system?

[OT FYI: "The Linux Filesystem Standard" says you can put "foreign" packages in /usr/local/ and manage them individually yourself]

  • 1
    Interesting, but you could have edited it into the answers mentioning Debian packages and .deb packages, perhaps? – muru Jan 1 '15 at 11:02
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    Maybe adding a little to Debian Package, but being such a detail oriented Q I thought this was different enough from ".deb package", and there was no ".deb file" yet (some people may never call them "files"?). And the perspective from "the horses's mouth" (Debian.org) together seemed like enough for it's own answer... – Xen2050 Jan 1 '15 at 18:10

Debian package has the major downside that it looks like it means “package from the Debian distribution” and not “package in the Debian format”. So I recommend to avoid it on this site (unless you do mean a package from Debian as opposed to Ubuntu, but then you should make that explicit).

Debian package also doesn't distinguish between a binary package (.deb) and a source package (.dsc and the files it lists).

In an Ubuntu context, “binary package” is often fine. This needs to be avoided only when discussing Ubuntu packages vs downloading a generic Linux binary (or a package to convert with alien).

Otherwise you can call it a deb package or deb file. Regardless of whether authorities use that wording, it is good because it is both transparent and unambiguous.

  • 3
    I like more deb file directly unless I'm refering to the Debian packaging itself. – Braiam Jan 5 '15 at 18:19

Vote for this answer if you think it should be:

deb package


Vote for this answer if you think it should be:

Ubuntu package

(I added this in :)

  • I think just "package" is also ok, since we're on AU (unless the question requires disambiguation) - see my answer for a citation/example – lofidevops Jan 8 '15 at 15:23

This is actually kind of a complicated question, depending on why you're asking, and more specifically, the behavior you expect.

All .deb files are "Debian packages", and that is technically correct, regardless of the distro or version of distro you're referring to. The same is true of "RPM", as all are "Red Hat packages". Specific files refer to the utilities to manage them, namely dpkg (The Debian Package Manager) and RPM (The Red Hat Package Manager).

The confusion stems from the fact that in addition to "installing packages", most users are used to "installing software", which is a complex process of "finding the software, installing it's dependencies, unpacking it, and configuring it for use on a user's system."

For instance... as of today (1 Jan, 2015), downloading and installing the sudo package from Ubuntu Trusty on an x86_64 system doesn't matter if you do:

wget http://mirrors.kernel.org/ubuntu/pool/main/s/sudo/sudo_1.8.9p5-1ubuntu1_amd64.deb; sudo dpkg -i sudo_1.8.9p5-1ubuntu1_amd64.deb


sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get install sudo -y

Deviations from that cause problems even with timing.

The dpkg file in question here has some specific things going for it.

  1. It is for the 'sudo' package.
  2. It is of version 1.8.9p5
  3. It is Ubuntu epoch 1
  4. It is version 1 of epoch 1 of version 1.8.9p5 of sudo.
  5. It is compiled for the x86_64 architecture.

Attempts to install this Debian package via dpkg will (almost) always fail on say, Raspbian, which is built with Debian dependencies and a different architecture.

However, using:

apt-get install sudo

Will almost always work. The difference lies in how the package manager, and the dependency resolver, are configured.

If you want a user to install "sudo", you should refer them to their dependency resolve, like aptitude, yum, or apt-get.

If you want them to work with a specific package, suck as "convert this Debian package to an RPM via alien", you deal with specific packages.



Citation: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/InstallingSoftware

  • imho this is the simplest solution in an Ubuntu/AU context - I think "Ubuntu package" and "software package" are also fine but unnecessary, and "Debian package" is misleading - ".deb file" might help in some circumstances, or if you're discussing the file format (rare) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deb_%28file_format%29 – lofidevops Jan 8 '15 at 15:22
  • As a source, a community wiki page that practically anyone can edit is not that great. – muru Jan 8 '15 at 16:29
  • @muru I disagree mildly, but I'll look further :) – lofidevops Jan 8 '15 at 16:38

Vote for this answer if you think it should be:

software package


Debian Binary would be, mostly the best choice for standing installs and non install working packages. Then having Debian Source for the obvious Source lists.


Vote for this answer if you think it should be:

dpkg package


Vote for this answer if you think it should be:

debian software package


Debian software package


Debian package or dpkg package

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