The dpkg manual states:

This manual is intended for users wishing to understand dpkg's command line options and package states in more detail than that provided by dpkg --help.

It should not be used by package maintainers wishing to understand how dpkg will install their packages. The descriptions of what dpkg does when installing and removing packages are particularly inadequate.

So where do I find the information on "how dpkg will install my packages"?

2 Answers 2


You can read the various Debian documentation:

  • Yes, i read those docs, but I haven't found the description of what exactly dpkg does step-by-step.
    – v_2e
    Aug 14, 2014 at 16:04
  • @v_2e You have read those docs completely? O.o
    – muru
    Aug 14, 2014 at 16:07
  • Of course, I dod not. I read through the sections mentioning dpkg in the two latter, and I read some sections in the former completely. Do you think these documents contain the kind of information I look for? I would be very grateful if someone helped me find it.
    – v_2e
    Aug 14, 2014 at 16:13
  • 1
    @v_2e The manpage itself gives the steps that dpkg takes when installing and configuring package (see the section for --install. To understand them better, you can look at these links.
    – muru
    Aug 14, 2014 at 16:39
  • Thanks for poining this out. Still I do not quite understand why the manual says "The descriptions of what dpkg does when installing and removing packages are particularly inadequate."
    – v_2e
    Aug 14, 2014 at 16:53

At a simple level, dpkg checks to see if dependencies/conflicts are met, extracts the files from the .deb file, runs any {pre,post}{inst,rm} scripts (whichever are applicable), and adds a record that the package is installed into its records (which is just a file, I think).

  • I think the record file is /var/lib/dpkg/status
    – alexgiorev
    Mar 26, 2021 at 20:19

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