the debian/.git−dpm file


git−dpm − debian packages in git manager


git−dpm −−help

git−dpm [ options ] command [ per−command−options and −arguments ]


Git−dpm is a tool to handle a debian source package in a git repository.

Each project contains three branches, a debian branch (master/whatever), a patched branch (patched/patched−whaterver) and an upstream branch (upstream/upstream−whatever) and git−dpm helps you store the information in there so you have your changes exportable as quilt series.

Git−dpm will guess the other two branches based on the branch it sees. (Most commands act based on the current HEAD, i.e. what branch you have currently checked out, though some as e.g. status allows an optional argument instead). So for example, if you are in branch master, git−dpm assumes the corresponding upstream branch is called upstream. If you are in branch upstream-something, it assumes the debian branch is called something.

Note that most commands may switch to another branch automatically, partly because it is easier to implement that way and hopefully so one does not need to switch branches manually so often.


the upstream branch (upstream|upstream−whatever)

This branch contains the upstream sources. It contents need to be equal enough to the contents in your upstream tarball.

the patched branch (patched|patched−whaterver)

This branch contains your patches to the upstream source. Every commit will be stored as a single patch in the resulting package.

Most of the time it will not exist as branch known to git, but only as some point in the history of the debian branch and possibly as tag for published versions. Git−dpm will create it when needed and remove the branch when no longer needed.

To help git generate a linear patch series, this should ideal be a linear chain of commits, whose description are helpful for other people.

As this branch is regulary rebased, you should not publish it.

the debian branch (master|whaterver)

This is the primary branch.

This branch contains the debian/ directory and has the patched branch merged in.

Every change not in debian/, .git* or deleting files must be done in the patched branch.


Let’s start with some examples:
Checking out a project

First get the master branch:
git clone

Then create upstream branch and see if the .orig.tar is ready:
git−dpm prepare

Create the patched branch and check it out:
git−dpm checkout−patched

Do some changes, apply some patches, commit them..

git commit

If your modification fixes a previous change (and that is not the last commit, otherwise you could have used −−amend), you might want to squash those two commits into one, so use:
git rebase −i upstream

Merge your changes into the debian branch and create patches:
git−dpm update−patches
dch −i
git commit −−amend −a

Perhaps change something with the debian package:

git commit −a

Then push the whole thing back:
git push

Switching to a new upstream version

Get a new .orig.tar file. Either upgrade your upstream branch to the contents of that file and call git−dpm new−upstream ../new−stuff.orig.tar.gz or tell git−dpm to import and record it:
git−dpm import−new−upstream −−rebase ../

This will rebase the patched branch to the new upstream branch, perhaps you will need to resolve some conflicts:
vim ...

git add
resolved files
git rebase −−continue

After rebase is run (with some luck even in the first try):
git−dpm update−patches

Record it in debian/changes:
dch −v
newupstream−1 "new upstream version"
git commit −−amend −a

Do other debian/ changes:

git commit −a

Then push the whole thing back:
git push

Creating a new project

Create an upstream (or upstream−whatever) branch containing the contents of your orig.tar file:
tar −xvf
git init
git add .
git commit −m "import
git checkout −b upstream−unstable

You might want to use pristine tar to store your tar:
pristine−tar commit ../
example_0.orig.tar.gz upstream−unstable

Then let git−dpm know what tarball your upstream branch belongs to:
git−dpm init ../

Note that since you were in upstream−unstable in this example, in the last example git−dpm assumed you want your debian branch called unstable and not master, so after the command returned you are in the newly created unstable branch.

Do the rest of the packaging:
debian/control debian/rules
dch −−create −−package
example −v 0−1
git add debian/control debian/rules debian/changelog
git commit −m "initial packaging"

Then add some patches:
git−dpm checkout−patched

vim ...

git commit −a
git−dpm update−patches
dch "
fix ... (Closes: num)"
git commit −−amend −a

The git−dpm checkout−patched created a temporary branch patched−unstable (as you were in a branch called unstable. If you had called it with HEAD being a branch master, it would have been patched) to which you added commits. Then the git−dpm update−patches merged that changes into unstable, deleted the temporary branch and created new debian/patches/ files.

Then build your package:
git−dpm status &&
dpkg−buildpackage −rfakeroot −us −uc −I".git*"

Not take a look what happened, perhaps you want to add some files to .gitignore (in the unstable branch), or remove some files from the unstable branch becaus your clean rule removes them.

Continue the last few steps until the package is finished. Then push your package:
git−dpm tag
git push −−tags
target unstable:unstable pristine−tar:pristine−tar



Give verbose output what git−dpm is doing. Mostly only useful for debugging or when preparing an bug report.


Output git invocations to stderr. (For more complicated debugging cases).


init [options] tarfile [upstream-commit [preapplied-commit

Create a new project.

The first argument is an upstream tarball.

You also need to have the contents of those (or similar enough so dpkg−source will not know the difference) as some branch or commit in your git repository. This will be stored in the upstream branch (called upstream or upstream−whatever). If the second argument is non-existing or empty, that branch must already exist, otherwise that branch will be initialized with what that second argument. (It’s your responsiblity that the contents match. git−dpm does not know what your clean rule does, so cannot check (and does not even try to warn yet)).

You can already have an debian branch (called master or whatever). If it does not exist, it will exist afterwards. Otherwise it can contain a debian/patches/series file, which git−dpm will import.

The third argument can be a descendant of your upstream branch, that contains the changes of your debian branch before any patches are applied (Most people prefer to have none and lintian warns, but if you have some, commit/cherry pick them in a new branch/detached head on top of your upstream branch and name them here). Without −−patches−applied, your debian branch may not have any upstream changes compared to this commit (or if it is not given, the upstream branch).

If there is no forth argument, git−dpm will apply possible patches in your debian branch on top of the third argument or upstream. You can also do so yourself and give that as forth argument.

The contents of this commit/branch given in the forth commit or created by applying patches on top of the third/your upstream branch is then merged into your debian branch and remembered as patched branch.


Denote the debian branch already has the patches applied.

Without this git−dpm will check there are no changes in the debian branch outside patch management before applying the patches but instead check there are no differences after applying the patches.


Do not create/override debian/patches directory. You will have to call update−patches yourself. Useful if you are importing historical data and keep the original patches in the debian branch.


Do not commit the new debian/.git−dpm file and possible debian/patched changes, but only add them to working tree and index.


Make sure upstream branch and upstream orig.tar ball are there and up to date. (Best called after a clone or a pull).

status [branch]

Check the status of the current project (or of the project belonging to the argument branch if that is given). Returns with non-zero exit code if something to do is detected.


Checkout the patched branch (patched|patched−whaterver) after making sure it exists and is one recorded in the debian/.git−dpm file.

If the patched branch references an old state (i.e. one that is already ancestor of the current debian branch), it is changed to the recorded current one.

Otherwise you can reset it to the last recorded state with the −−force option.


After calling merge−patched−into−debian if necessary, update the contents of debian/patches to the current state of the patched branch.

Also record in debian/.git−dpm which state of the patched branch the patches directory belongs to.



Do something, even if it seems like there is nothing to do.


passed on to merge−patched−into−debian


Do not create a new commit, but amend the last one in the debian branch. (I.e. call merge−patched−into−debian with −−amend and amend the updates patches into the last commit even if that was not created by merge−patched−into−debian).


do not remove an existing patched branch (usually that is removed and can be recreated with checkout−patched to avoid stale copies lurking around.


Usually update−patches runs this for you if deemed necessary.

Replace the current contents of the debian branch (master|whaterver) with the contents of the patched branch (patched|patched−whaterver), except for everything under debian/. Also files that are deleted in the debian branch keep being deleted and files in the root directory starting with ".git" keep their contents from the debian branch, too.

The current state of the patched branch is recorded in debian/.git−dpm and so is which upstream branch was recorded patched branch is relative to (to easy future merge−patched−into−debian operations).


Usually reverting to an old state of the patched branch is not allowed, to avoid mistakes (like having only pulled the debian branch and forgot to run checkout−patched). This option changes that so you can for example drop the last patch in your stack.


do not remove an existing patched branch (usually that is removed and can be recreated with checkout−patched to avoid stale copies lurking around).


Replace the last commit on your debian branch (as git commit −−amend would do). With the exception that every parent that is an ancestor of or equal to the new patched branch or the recorded patched branch is omitted. (That is, you lose not only the commit on the debian branch, but also a previous state of the patched branch if your last commit also merged the patched branch).

import−new−upstream [options] .orig.tar

Import the contents of the given tarfile (as with import−tar) and record this branch (as with new−upstream).

This is roughly equivalent to:
git−dpm import−tar −p
upstream filename
git checkout −b
git−dpm new−upstream

Don’t make the new upstream branch an ancestor of the old upstream branch (unless you readd that with −p).

−p commit-id|−−parent commit-id

Give import−tar additional parents of the new commit to create.

For example if you track upstream’s git repository in some branch, you can name that here to make it part of the history of your debian branch.


After recording the new upstream branch, rebase the patched branch to the new upstream branch.

import−tar [options] .tar-file

Create a new commit containing the contents of the given file. The commit will not have any parents, unless you give −p options.
commit-id|−−parent commit-id

Add the given commit as parent. (Can be specified multiple times).

−m message

Do not start an editor for the commit message, but use the argument instead.

new−upstream [−−rebase−patched] .orig.tar [commit]

If you changed the upstream branch (upstream|upstream−whatever), git−dpm needs to know which tarball this branch now corresponds to and you have to rebase your patched branch (patched|patched−whaterver) to the new upstream branch.

If there is a second argument, this command first replaces your upstream branch with the specified commit.

Then the new upstream branch is recorded in your debian branch’s debian/.git−dpm file.

If you specified −−rebase−patched (or short −−rebase),
git−dpm rebase−patched
will be called to rebase your patched branch on top of the new upstream branch.

After this (and if the branch then looks like what you want), you still need to call git−dpm merge−patched−into−debian (or directly git−dpm update−patches).

WARNING to avoid any misunderstandings: You have to change the upstream branch before using this command. It’s your responsibility to ensure the contents of the tarball match those of the upstream branch.


Try to rebase your current patched branch (patched|patched−whaterver) to your current current upstream branch (upstream|upstream−whatever).

If those branches do not yet exist as git branches, they are (re)created from the information recorded in debian/.git−dpm first.

This is only a convenience wrapper around git rebase that first tries to determine what exactly is to rebase. If there are any conflicts, git rebase will ask you to resolv them and tell rebase to continue.

After this is finished (and if the branch then looks like what you want), you still need merge−patched−into−debian (or directly update−patches).

tag [ version ]

Add tags to the uptream, patched and debian branches. If no version is given, it is taken from debian/changelog.


Overwrite the tags if they are already there and differ (except upstream).


Overwrite the upstream if that is there and differs.


Don’t error out if patches are not up to date. This is only useful if you are importing historical data and want to tag it.

apply−patch [ options... ] [ filename ]

Switch to the patched branch (assuming it is up to date, use checkout−patched first to make sure or get an warning), and apply the patch given as argument or from stdin.
author <email>

Override the author to be recorded.

−−defaultauthor author <email>

If no author could be determined from the commit, use this.

−−date date

Date to record this patch originally be from if non found.


Parse patch as dpatch patch (Only works for dpatch patches actually being a patch, might silently fail for others).


Parse patch as cdbs simple− patch (Only works for dpatch patches actually being a patch, might silently fail for others).


Start an editor before doing the commit (In case you are too lazy to amend).

cherry−pick [ options... ] commit

Recreate the patched branch and cherry−pick the given commit. Then merge that back into the debian branch and update the debian/patches directory (i.e. mostly equivalent to checkout−patched, git’s cherry−pick, and update−patches).

Only merge the patched branch back into the debian branch but do not update the patches directory (You’ll need to run update−patches later to get this done).

−e | −−edit

Passed to git’s cherry−pick: edit the commit message picked.

−s | −−signoff

Passed to git’s cherry−pick: add a Signed−off−by header


Passed to git’s cherry−pick: add a line describing what was picked

−m num | −−mainline num

Passed to git’s cherry−pick: allow picking a merge by specifign the parent to look at.


Don’t abort if the specified commit is already contained.


passed to merge−patched−into−debian and update−patches.


do not remove the patched branch when it is no longer needed.


passed to merge−patched−into−debian: amend the last commit in the debian branch.


Import a debian source package from a .dsc file. This can be used to create a new project or to import a source package into an existing project.

While a possible old state of a project is recorded as parent commit, the state of the old debian branch is not taken into account. Especially all file deletions and .gitignore files and the like need to be reapplied/readded afterwards. (Assumption is that new source package versions from outside might change stuff significantly, so old information might more likely be outdated. And reapplying it is easier then reverting such changes.)

First step is importing the .orig.tar file. You can either specify a branch to use. Otherwise import−dsc will look if the previous state of this project already has the needed file so the old upstream branch can be reused. If there is non, the file will be imported as a new commit, by default with a possible previous upstream branch as parent.

Then import−dsc will try to import the source package in the state as dpkg−source −x would create it. (That is applying the .diff and making debian/rules executeable for 1.0 format packages and replacing the debian directory with the contents of a .debian.tar and applying possible debian/patches/series for 3.0 format packages). This is later referred to as verbatim import.

If it is a 1.0 source format package, import−dsc then looks for a set of supported patch systems and tries to apply those patches. Those are then merged with the verbatim state into the new debian branch.

Then a debian/.git−dpm file is created and a possible old state of the project added as parent.

Note that dpkg−source is not used to extract packages, but they are extracted manually. Especially git−apply is used instead of patch. While this generally works (and git−dpm has some magic to work around some of git−apply’s shortcomings), unclean patches might sometimes need a −C0 option and then in same cases be applied at different positions than where patch would apply them.

General options:
| −−branch branch-name

Don’t look at the current HEAD, but import the package into the git−dpm project branchname or create a new project (if that branch does not yet exist).

−−verbatim branch-name

After import−dsc has completed successfully, branch-name will contain the verbatim import of the .dsc file. If a branch of that name already exists, the new verbatim commit will also have the old as parent. (This also causes the verbatim commit not being amended with other changes, which can result in more commits).

Options about creating the upstream branch:

Do not import the .orig.tar nor try to reuse an old import, but always use the commit specified.

It is your responsibility that this branch is similar enough to the .orig.tar file in question. (As usual, similar enough means: Does not miss any files that your patches touch or your build process requires (or recreates unless debian/rules clean removes them again). Every file different than in .orig.tar or not existing there you must delete in the resulting debian branch. No patch may touch those files.)

Use with care. Nothing will warn you even if you use the contents of a totally wrong upstream version.


If importing a .orig.tar as new commit, do not make an possible commit for an old upstream version parent.

−−upstream−parent commit

Add commit as (additional) parent if importing a new upstream version.

(This can for example be used to make upstream’s git history part of your package’s history and thus help git when cherry-picking stuff).

Options about applying patches:
| −−force−commit−reuse

Only look at parent and tree and no longer at the description when trying to reuse commits importing patches from previous package versions.

−Cnum | −−patch−context num

Passed as −Cnum to git−apply. Specifies the number of context lines that must match.


Do not error out if a dpatch file does not change anything when treated as patch.

As dpatch files can be arbitrary scripts, git−dpm has some problems detecting if they are really patches. (It can only cope with patches). If a script that is not a patch is treated as patch that usually results in patch not modify anything, thus those are forbidden without this option.

−−patch−system mode

Specify what patch system is used for source format 1.0 packages.
(this is the default)

Try to determine what patch system is used by looking at debian/rules (and debian/control).


Those are not the patches you are looking for.


Don’t try to find any patches in the .diff (like none). If if the project already exists and the upstream tarball is the same, create the patched state of the new one by using the patches of the old one and adding a patch of top bringing it to the new state.

If you import multiple revisions of some package, where each new revision added at most a single change to upstream, this option allows you to almost automatically create a proper set of patches (ideally only missing descriptions).

If there are same changes and reverts those will be visibile in the patches created, so this mode is not very useful in that case.


Extract and apply a debian/patches/series quilt like series on top of possible upstream changes found in the .diff file.


As the quilt mode, but apply the patches to an unmodified upstream first and then cherry−pick the changes found in the .diff file.

As this is not the order in which patches are applied in a normal unpack/build cycle, this will fail if those changes are not distinct enough (for example when patches depend on changes done in the .diff).

But if the .diff only contains unrelated changes which varies with each version, this gives a much nicer history, as the commits for the patches can more easily be reused.


As the quilt−first mode, but assume the patches are already applied in the .diff, so apply them on top of an unmodified upstream and then add a commit bringing it to the state in the .diff. (Or not if that patch would be empty).

dpatch | dpatch−first | dpatch−applied

Like the quilt resp. quilt−first resp. quilt−applied modes, but instead look for dpatch-style patches in debian/patches/00list.

Note that only patches are supported and not dpatch running other commands.

simple | simple−first | simple−applied

Like the quilt resp. quilt−first resp. quilt−applied modes, but instead assume debian/patches/ contains patches suiteable for cdbs’s simple−

−−patch−author "name <email>"

Set the author for all git commits importing patches.

−−patch−default−author "name <email>"

Set an author for all patches not containing author information (or where git−dpm cannot determine it).


For every patch imported, start an editor for the commit message.

the debian/.git−dpm file

You should not need to know about the contents if this file except for debuging git−dpm.

The file contains 8 lines, but future version may contain more.

The first line is hint what this file is about and ignored.

Then there are 4 git commit ids for the recorded states:

First the state of the patched branch when the patches in debian/patches were last updated.

Then the state of the patched branch when it was last merged into the debian branch.

Then the state upstream branch when the patched branch was last merged.

Finally the upstream branch.

The following 3 lines are the filename, the sha1 checksum and the size of the origtarball belonging to the recorded upstream branch.


Most commands also have shorter aliases, to avoid typing:

update−patches: up, u−p, ci
prepare: prep
checkout−patched: co, c−p
r ebase−patched: r−p
new−upstream−branch: new−upstream, n−u
apply−patch: a−p
import−tar: i−t
import−new−upstream: i−n−u, inu
cherry−pick: c−p


the upstream branch (upstream|upstream−whatever)

This branch contains the upstream sources. It contents need to be equal enough to the contents in your upstream tarball.

Equal enough means that dpkg−source should see no difference between your patched tree and and original tarball unpackaged, the patched applied and debian/rules clean run. Usually it is easiest to just store the verbatim contents of your orig tarball here. Then you can also use it for pristine tar.

This branch may contain a debian/ subdirectory, which will usually be just ignored.

You can either publish that branch or make it only implicitly visible via the debian/.git−dpm file in the debian branch.

While it usually makes sense that newer upstream branches contain older ones, this is not needed. You should be able to switch from one created yourself or by some foreign-vcs importing tool generated one to an native upstream branch or vice versa without problems. Note that since the debian branch has the patched branch as ancestor and the patched branch the upstream branch, your upstream branches are part of the history of your debian branch. Which has the advantage that you can recreate the exact state of your branches from your history directly (like git checkout −b oldstate myoldtagorshaofdebianbranchcommit ; git−dpm prepare ; git checkout unstable−oldstate) but the disadvantage that to remove those histories from your repository you have to do some manual work.

the patched branch (patched|patched−whaterver)

This branch contains your patches to the upstream source. (which of course means it is based on your upstream branch).

Every commit will be stored as a single patch in the resulting package.

To help git generate a linear patch series, this should ideal be a linear chain of commits, whose description are helpful for other people.

As this branch is regulary rebased, you should not publish it. Instead you can recreate this branch using git−dpm checkout−patched using the information stored in debian/.git−dpm.

You are not allowed to change the contents of the debian/ subdirectory in this branch. Renaming files or deleting files usuall causes unecesary large patches.

the debian branch (master|whaterver)

This is the primary branch.

This branch contains the debian/ directory and has the patched branch merged in.

Every change not in debian/, .git* or deleting files must be done in the patched branch.


Copyright © 2009,2010 Bernhard R. Link
This is free software; see the source for copying conditions. There is NO warranty; not even for MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.


You can report bugs or feature suggestions to gi-dpm− or tome. Please send questions to git−dpm− or to me at