alien is a program that converts between Redhat rpm, Debian deb,
Stampede slp and Slackware tgz file formats. If you want to use a package from
another linux distribution than the one you have installed on your system,
you can use alien to convert it to your preferred package format and install it.
Despite the high version number, alien is still (and will probably always
be) rather experimental software. It's been under development for many
years now, but there are still many bugs and limitations.
Alien should not be used to replace important system packages, like
init, libc, or other things that are essential for the functioning of
your system. Many of these packages are set up differently by the
different distributions, and packages from the different distributions
cannot be used interchangeably. In general, if you can't remove a
package without breaking your system, don't try to replace it with an
PACKAGE FORMAT NOTES
For converting to and from rpm format the Red Hat Package Manager must be
For converting to (but not from) deb format, the gcc, make, debmake,
dpkg-dev, and dpkg packages must be installed.
Note that when converting from the tgz format, alien will simply generate an
output package that has the same files in it as are in the tgz file. This
only works well if the tgz file has precompiled binaries in it in a
standard linux directory tree. Do NOT run alien on tar files with source
code in them, unless you want this source code to be installed in your root
directory when you install the package!
Alien will convert all the files you pass into it into all the output types
you specify. If no output type is specified, it defaults to converting to
The list of package files to convert.
Make debian packages. This is the default.
Make rpm packages.
Make tgz packages.
Make slp packages.
Automatically install each generated package, and remove the package file
after it has been installed.
Generate a temporary directory suitable for building a package from, but do
not actually create the package. This is useful if you want to move files
around in the package before building it. The package can be built from
this temporary directory by running ``debian/rules binary'', if you were creating
a Debian package, or by running ``rpm -bb <packagename>.spec'' if you were
creating a Red Hat package.
Like -g, but do not generate the packagename.orig directory. This is only
useful when you are very low on disk space and are generating a debian
Specify the patch to be used instead of automatically looking the patch up
in /var/lib/alien. This has no effect unless a debian package is being
Do not use any patch files.
Specifiy a description for the package. This only has an effect when
converting from the tgz package format, which lacks descriptions.
Try to convert the scripts that are meant to be run when the
package is installed and removed. Use this with caution, becuase these
scripts might be designed to work on a system unlike your own, and could
cause problems. It is recommended that you examine the scripts by hand
and check to see what they do before using this option.
By default, alien adds one to the minor version number of each package it
converts. If this option is given, alien will not do this.
Display a short usage summary.
Here are some examples of the use of alien:
alien --to-deb package.rpm
Convert the package.rpm into a package.deb
alien --to-rpm package.deb
Convert the package.deb into a package.rpm
alien -i package.rpm
Convert the package.rpm into a package.deb (converting to a .deb package is
default, so you need not specify --to-deb), and install the generated