dh-make-perl - Create debian source packages from Perl modules


dh-make-perl [make] {SOURCE_DIR | --cpan MODULE|DIST} options...
dh-make-perl refresh {--only ...} [directory]
dh-make-perl locate Foo::Bar
dh-make-perl refresh-cache
dh-make-perl dump-config
dh-make-perl help
cpan2deb MODULE|DIST options...


dh-make-perl will create the files required to build a debian source package out of a Perl module or CPAN distribution. This works for most simple packages and is also useful for getting started with packaging Perl modules.

You can specify a module or distribution name with the --cpan switch and dh-make-perl will download it for you from a CPAN mirror, or you can specify the directory with the already unpacked sources. If neither --cpan nor a directory is given as argument, dh-make-perl tries to create a Perl package from the data in the current directory.

You can build and install the debian package using the "--build" and "--install" command line switches.

If dh-make-perl is called as

    cpan2deb <options...> Foo::Bar

it behaves like

    dh-make-perl make <options...> --build --cpan Foo::Bar

Using this program is no excuse for not reading the debian developer documentation, including the Debian policy, the Debian Perl policy, the packaging manual and so on.



Default command if no command is given. Creates debianisation from scratch. Fails with an error if debian/ directory already exists.

refresh [directory]

For refreshing a package. directory defaults to the current working directory. Rebuilds debian/copyright, debian/rules, debian/compat using the current templates. Before any changes are made to these files, a backup copy is created with a .bak suffix.

This is useful when debian/rules was created using older templates and doesn't contain much customisations. As always, you're strongly encouraged to verify if debian/rules looks sane.

refresh also tries to update dependency lists in debian/control from META.yml. It hooks quilt(1) into debian/rules and creates debian/README.source

When updating debian/copyright dh-make-perl tries to be clever about remembering email addresses. It gets the list of copyright holders and their emails for debian/* from the sign off lines in debian/changelog. However to allow for email addresses changing, it looks for change lines of the form

      * Email change: Debbie Devlin ->

So now Debbie Devlin <> will be used in the copyright instead of Debbie Devlin <>.

--only | -o control|copyright|docs|examples|rules

This option allows to update only one or more file(s) in the debian/ directory when dh-make-perl is run in "refresh" mode. Filenames are separated by a comma. The option can be given multiple times, accumulating arguments.

locate MODULE

Tries to locate the package that conains the given Perl MODULE.


    dh-make-perl locate IPC::Run3

dh-make-perl parses the Contents files, fetched by apt-file(1) and stores the result in a cache. The cache is refreshed automatically if it is older than any Contents file. However, if you run apt-file(1) in your nightly cron job, the first time you run dh-make-perl during the day, you shall wait for the cache to be reconstructed. With this option, you can move the cache re-creation to the cron job, right after apt-file update.

Does nothing if the cache is newer that the Contents files.


Causes the current config, including any default settings to be printed to the standard output.

Useful for populating dh-make-perl.conf file.


Displays short usage information.


--apt-contents-dir dir

Location of apt-file Contents directory. Default is /var/cache/apt/apt-file

--arch any | all

This switches between arch-dependent and arch-independet packages. If --arch isn't used, dh-make-perl uses a relatively good-working algorithms to decide this alone.

--backups | --no-backups

In "refresh" mode, create backups of debian/copyright and debian/rules before overwritting them. On by default.


Explicitly gives a comma-separated list of packages to consider "base" packages (i.e. packages that should always be available in Debian systems). This option defaults to perl,perl-base - it is used to check for module dependencies. If a needed module is in the basepkgs, it won't be mentioned in the depends: field of debian/control.

If this option is specified, the above mentioned default packages will not be included (but will be mentioned as explicit dependencies in the resulting package). You can, of course, mention your own modules and explicitly specify the default values.

Note that this option should be used sparsingly and with care, as it might lead to packages not being rebuildable because of unfulfilled dependencies.

--bdepends BUILD-DEPENDS

Manually specify the string to be used for the module's build-dependencies (that is, the packages and their versions that have to be installed in order to successfully build the package). Keep in mind that packages generated by dh-make-perl require debhelper to be specified as a build dependency. Same note as for --depends applies here - use only when needed.


Manually specify the string to be used for the module's build-dependencies for architecture-independent builds. Same notes as those for the --depends and --bdepends options apply here.

Note that for --depends, --bdepends and --bdependsi you can also specify that the field should not appear in debian/rules (if you really mean it, of course ;-) ) by giving it an empty string as an argument.


Builds the package after setting it up.

NB: This builds only a binary package (by calling "fakeroot debian/rules binary") and does not sign the package. It is meant for a quick local install of a package, not for creating a package ready for submission to the Debian archive.

--closes ITPBUG

Manually specify the ITP bug number that this package closes. If not given, dh-make-perl will try to connect to to fetch the appropriate bug number, using WWW::Mechanize.


Allows building core Perl modules. By default, dh-make-perl will not allow building a module that is shipped as part of the standard Perl library; by specifying this option, dh-make-perl will build them anyway.

Note that, although it is not probable, this might break unrelated items in your system - if a newer version of a core module breaks the API, all kinds of daemons might get upset ;-)


Instructs dh-make-perl to fetch and extract the given CPAN module or distribution. Works both with Foo::Bar and Foo-Bar.

--cpan-mirror MIRROR

Specifies a CPAN site to use as mirror.

--data-dir DIRECTORY

Use another data directory, instead of the default, /usr/share/dh-make-perl

Data directory is were dh-make-perl looks for its default rules.* templates. It is similar to --home-dir, but does not change the location of the APT Contents cache file. If both are given, --home-dir takes precedence.

--depends DEPENDS

Manually specify the string to be used for the module's dependencies. This should be used when building modules where dh-make-perl cannot guess the Perl dependencies (such as modules built using Module::Install), or when the Perl code depends on non-Perl binaries or libraries. Usually, dh-make-perl will figure out the dependencies by itself. If you need to pass dh-make-perl dependency information, you must do it using the debian package format. i.e.

    dh-make-perl --depends libtest-more-perl

Uses the argument to --desc as short description for the package.


Set desired debhelper version. If ver is 7, generated debian/rules is minimalistic, using the auto-mode of debhelper. Also, any additional documentation and examples are listed in additional files under debian/, instead of being listed in debian/rules.

Since version 0.60, 7 is the only supported debhelper compatibility level.


Limit the distributions whose Contents files are parsed. The argument is a distribution name.

Default: empty, meaning no filtering.

Example: dh-make-perl --dist etch

--email | -e EMAIL

Manually specify the Maintainer email address to use in debian/control and in debian/changelog.

--exclude | -i [REGEX]

This allows you to specify a PCRE to exclude some files from the search for docs and stuff like that. If no argument is given (but the switch is specified - not specifying the switch will include everything), it defaults to dpkg-source's default values.


Installs the freshly built package. Specifying --install implies --build - The package will not be installed unless it was built (obviously ;-) )


When determining module dependencies, if Module::Depends fails, tries again with Module::Depends::Intrusive. M:D:I loads all .pm files, intercepting loading of other modules, effectively running untrusted code on your behalf. Use with caution.


Enables querying of Debian WNPP lists for ITP and similar bugs. Enabled by default, use --no-network to disable.


This option for not running the automatic testing of the module as part of the build script has been removed in 0.54. Please put nocheck in the DEB_BUILD_OPTIONS environment variable if you want to skip the tests when building a package.

--home-dir DIRECTORY

Where APT Contents and other caches are stored.

Default: ~/.dh-make-perl

--packagename | -p PACKAGENAME

Manually specify the Package Name, useful when the module has dashes in its name.


Useful when preparing a package for the Debian Perl Group

Sets Maintainer, Uploaders, Vcs-Svn and Vcs-Browser fields in debian/control accordingly.


Valid only in "make" mode with "--cpan" or directory arguments. Causes dh-make-perl to try to create packaging (and possibly build and install the packages if "--build" and "--install" options are also given) for any dependencies which are missiing packages.

This works like this: when the 'main' package is constructed, any missing packages are put in a list, and then the debianisaion procedure is run in turn on each of them, recursively.


Fail if a dependency Perl package was not found (dependency tracking requires the apt-file package installed and updated)

--source-format format

When creating or refreshing packaging, use the specified source format. Defaults to 1.0.

--sources-list FILE

Instruct the Contents file parser to use this file when determining if a given file should be parsed or not. Contents files not matching any line in sources.list are not parsed in order to save you time parsing old files from mirrors you no longer use.

Default: apt's default.

--verbose | --no-verbose

Print additional information while processing.

--verbose is on by default in "make" mode, off otherwise.

--version VERSION

Specifies the version of the resulting package.


The following directories will be searched to find additional files required by dh-make-perl:

  • dh-make-perl.conf

    User configuration. The file is in YAML format. The keys are option names, as documented in "OPTIONS" (without leading --).

    See the output of dh-make-perl --dump-config, which can also be used for population of dh-make-perl.conf.

  • rules.MakeMaker.noxs

    A debian/rules makefile for modules that use ExtUtils::MakeMaker, but don't have C/XS code.

  • rules.MakeMaker.xs

    A debian/rules makefile for modules that use ExtUtils::MakerMaker and C/XS code.

  • rules.Module-Build.noxs

    A debian/rules makefile for modules that use Module::Build, but don't have C/XS code.

  • rules.Module-Build.xs

    A debian/rules makefile for modules that use Module::Build and C/XS code.


HOME - get user's home directory

DEBFULLNAME - get the real name of the maintainer

LOGNAME or USER - get the username

DEBEMAIL or EMAIL - get the email address of the user


Several, let me know when you find them.


Paolo Molaro <> (MIA)

Maintained for a time by Ivan Kohler <>.

Maintained for a time by Marc Brockschmdit <>.

Now maintained by Gunnar Wolf <>, and team-maintained by the Debian Perl Group,

Patches from:

Adam Sjoegren <>
Adrian Phillips <>
Amos Shapira <>
Christian Kurz <>
Damyan Ivanov <>
David Paleino <>
David Pashley <>
Edward Betts <>
Fermin Galan <>
Geoff Richards <>
Gergely Nagy <>
gregor herrmann <>
Hilko Bengen <>
Kees Cook <>
Jesper Krogh <>
Johnny Morano <>
Juerd <>
Marc Chantreux (mail withheld)
Matt Hope <>
Maximilian Gass <>
Noel Maddy <>
Oliver Gorwits <>
Paul Fenwick <>
Peter Moerch <>
Peter Pentchev <>
Ryan Niebur <>
Salvatore Bonaccorso <>
Stephen Oberholtzer <>
Ton Nijkes <>

... And others who, sadly, we have forgot to add :-/