DH(1) Debhelper DH(1)
dh - debhelper command sequencer
dh sequence [--with addon[,addon ...]] [--list] [debhelperoptions]
dh runs a sequence of debhelper commands. The supported sequences
correspond to the targets of a debian/rules file: build-arch, build-
indep, build, clean, install-indep, install-arch, install, binary-arch,
binary-indep, and binary.
A debian/rules file using dh can override the command that is run at
any step in a sequence, by defining an override target.
To override dh_command, add a target named override_dh_command to the
rules file. When it would normally run dh_command, dh will instead call
that target. The override target can then run the command with
additional options, or run entirely different commands instead. See
Override targets can also be defined to run only when building
architecture dependent or architecture independent packages. Use
targets with names like override_dh_command-arch and
override_dh_command-indep. (Note that to use this feature, you should
Build-Depend on debhelper 8.9.7 or above.)
--with addon[,addon ...]
Add the debhelper commands specified by the given addon to
appropriate places in the sequence of commands that is run. This
option can be repeated more than once, or multiple addons can be
listed, separated by commas. This is used when there is a third-
party package that provides debhelper commands. See the PROGRAMMING
file for documentation about the sequence addon interface.
The inverse of --with, disables using the given addon. This option
can be repeated more than once, or multiple addons to disable can
be listed, separated by commas.
List all available addons.
When called only with this option, dh can be called from any
directory (i.e. it does not need access to files from a source
Prints commands that would run for a given sequence, but does not
Note that dh normally skips running commands that it knows will do
nothing. With --no-act, the full list of commands in a sequence is
Other options passed to dh are passed on to each command it runs. This
can be used to set an option like -v or -X or -N, as well as for more
To see what commands are included in a sequence, without actually doing
dh binary-arch --no-act
This is a very simple rules file, for packages where the default
sequences of commands work with no additional options.
Often you'll want to pass an option to a specific debhelper command.
The easy way to do with is by adding an override target for that
dh_auto_configure -- --with-foo --disable-bar
Sometimes the automated dh_auto_configure(1) and dh_auto_build(1) can't
guess what to do for a strange package. Here's how to avoid running
either and instead run your own commands.
Another common case is wanting to do something manually before or after
a particular debhelper command is run.
chmod 4755 debian/foo/usr/bin/foo
Python tools are not run by dh by default, due to the continual change
in that area. Here is how to use dh_python2.
dh $@ --with python2
Here is how to force use of Perl's Module::Build build system, which
can be necessary if debhelper wrongly detects that the package uses
dh $@ --buildsystem=perl_build
Here is an example of overriding where the dh_auto_* commands find the
package's source, for a package where the source is located in a
dh $@ --sourcedirectory=src
And here is an example of how to tell the dh_auto_* commands to build
in a subdirectory, which will be removed on clean.
dh $@ --builddirectory=build
If your package can be built in parallel, please either use compat 10
or pass --parallel to dh. Then dpkg-buildpackage -j will work.
dh $@ --parallel
If your package cannot be built reliably while using multiple threads,
please pass --no-parallel to dh (or the relevant dh_auto_* command):
dh $@ --no-parallel
Here is a way to prevent dh from running several commands that you
don't want it to run, by defining empty override targets for each
# Commands not to run:
override_dh_auto_test override_dh_compress override_dh_fixperms:
A long build process for a separate documentation package can be
separated out using architecture independent overrides. These will be
skipped when running build-arch and binary-arch sequences.
$(MAKE) -C docs
# No tests needed for docs
$(MAKE) -C docs install
Adding to the example above, suppose you need to chmod a file, but only
when building the architecture dependent package, as it's not present
when building only documentation.
chmod 4755 debian/foo/usr/bin/foo
If you're curious about dh's internals, here's how it works under the
In compat 10 (or later), dh creates a stamp file
debian/debhelper-build-stamp after the build step(s) are complete to
avoid re-running them. It is possible to avoid the stamp file by
passing --without=build-stamp to dh. This makes "no clean" builds
behave more like what some people expect at the expense of possibly
running the build and test twice (the second time as root or under
Inside an override target, dh_* commands will create a log file
debian/package.debhelper.log to keep track of which packages the
command(s) have been run for. These log files are then removed once
the override target is complete.
In compat 9 or earlier, each debhelper command will record when it's
successfully run in debian/package.debhelper.log. (Which dh_clean
deletes.) So dh can tell which commands have already been run, for
which packages, and skip running those commands again.
Each time dh is run (in compat 9 or earlier), it examines the log, and
finds the last logged command that is in the specified sequence. It
then continues with the next command in the sequence. The --until,
--before, --after, and --remaining options can override this behavior
(though they were removed in compat 10).
A sequence can also run dependent targets in debian/rules. For
example, the "binary" sequence runs the "install" target.
dh uses the DH_INTERNAL_OPTIONS environment variable to pass
information through to debhelper commands that are run inside override
targets. The contents (and indeed, existence) of this environment
variable, as the name might suggest, is subject to change at any time.
Commands in the build-indep, install-indep and binary-indep sequences
are passed the -i option to ensure they only work on architecture
independent packages, and commands in the build-arch, install-arch and
binary-arch sequences are passed the -a option to ensure they only work
on architecture dependent packages.
The following options are deprecated. It's much better to use override
targets instead. They are not available in compat 10.
Run commands in the sequence until and including cmd, then stop.
Run commands in the sequence before cmd, then stop.
Run commands in the sequence that come after cmd.
Run all commands in the sequence that have yet to be run.
In the above options, cmd can be a full name of a debhelper command, or
a substring. It'll first search for a command in the sequence exactly
matching the name, to avoid any ambiguity. If there are multiple
substring matches, the last one in the sequence will be used.
This program is a part of debhelper.
Joey Hess <firstname.lastname@example.org>
11.3.5 2018-06-30 DH(1)