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#1 2018-11-13 21:39:24

Registered: 2018-11-13
Posts: 2

Converting packages between format(RPM to Deb, etc.): Who even does it

Greetings Arch Linux Community,

I wanted to discuss that action of converting between package files after some readings of the Linux+ Comptia study guide. Typically this is done with the the "alien" utility which is used to convert between the rpm, dpkg, stampede slp, and slackware tgz file formats. Since this tool isn't compatible with AUR packages, this question is intended for a broader audience of GNU/Linux users with experience with the above package managers.

The author of said book has made(what I think are) excessive references to converting between package types throughout the second chapter. As a junior sysadmin and an everyday Linux user at home, I haven't had to do this once, nor have I seen much discussion about this in GNU/Linux communities out there. Thus, my instincts are telling me that this info isn't as important to prioritize yet he's referencing it so often that I want to ensure I absorb that knowledge should it be necessary.

Since the author keeps mentioning it I wanted to see if I could get a pulse on the real, modern-day GNU/Linux users out there as to what their experience with this is.

tl;dr Have you ever converted a package to another format before in a personal/professional context? Do you find it to be a legitimately useful/common operation or is this particular section of the book a little antiquated/misguided?

Last edited by baelx (2018-11-13 21:43:15)


#2 2018-11-13 21:48:50

Forum Moderator
From: Norfolk, UK
Registered: 2013-12-01
Posts: 3,130

Re: Converting packages between format(RPM to Deb, etc.): Who even does it

If the source is available then no. It's usually trivial to write a PKGBUILD to create a native Arch package.

No, it didn't "fix" anything. It just shifted the brokeness one space to the right. - jasonwryan
Closing -- for deletion; Banning -- for muppetry. - jasonwryan

aur - dotfiles


#3 2018-11-13 22:19:13

Trusted User/Bug Wrangler
Registered: 2014-08-08
Posts: 2,806

Re: Converting packages between format(RPM to Deb, etc.): Who even does it

IMHO it is always better to use the native package tooling for this, and the Arch Linux community encourages this in part by making it incredibly simple to write native packages using the PKGBUILD format.

I can entirely understand why, when faced with the byzantine nature of the Debian package format, one would throw up their hands and look for a tool like alien to do it for them. Apparently, is quite popular these days.

What should be understood about tools like fpm and alien, is that they basically rely on the package in question not having significant dependencies. Usually you're dealing with software not popular enough to be in mainstream distribution repositories, and often, proprietary programs which ship with statically linked binaries or use custom libs found via rpath.

The job of the package converter is therefore to take a tree of files bundled into the package, remove the packaging wrapper, and add a different packaging wrapper. Mapping system dependencies can be done in simple cases, but not usually. The tool can read basic metadata like package name, version, and description, from one wrapper and compile it into the other wrapper.

The goal of all that is in order to make the package installable on another distribution using the native package manager, by any means necessary. The assumption is that you don't actually have any good options, and therefore this option, while bad, is better than nothing.

Managing AUR repos The Right Way -- aurpublish (now a standalone tool)


#4 2018-11-14 12:27:50

From: Netherlands, Europe
Registered: 2005-10-04
Posts: 6,593

Re: Converting packages between format(RPM to Deb, etc.): Who even does it

software intended to be build with rpm source comes with a *.spec file.
That file is not hard to convert manually to other formats like PKGBUILD.
(writing a rpm .spec-file though is much harder ..)

And even though writing PKGBUILDs isn't hard and there's plenty of help available , aur does have a popular package that does it's best to convert deb-packages to archlinux compatible packages.

Multi-init booting with apg Openrc and systemd coexisting
Automounting : not needed, i prefer pmount
Aur helpers : makepkg + my own local repo === rarely need them


#5 2018-11-14 18:45:08

Registered: 2018-11-13
Posts: 2

Re: Converting packages between format(RPM to Deb, etc.): Who even does it

Thanks for the replies and to eschwartz for the more broad, detailed response.

So far these assessments are in line with my conclusion. Although I must clarify that I wasn't referring to the act of getting software to run on Arch with said utility, but more questioning if this practice is common among users who've used Debian and RPM-based systems(mainly) in the past or currently.


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