debcheckout - checkout the development repository of a Debian package


debcheckout --help


debcheckout retrieves the information about the Version Control System used to maintain a given Debian package (the PACKAGE argument), and then checks out the latest (potentially unreleased) version of the package from its repository. By default the repository is checked out to the PACKAGE directory; it can be overridden providing the DESTDIR argument.

The information about where the repository is available is expected to be found in Vcs-* fields available in the source package record. For example, the vim package exposes such an information with a field like Vcs-Svn: svn://, you can see it grepping through apt-cache showsrc vim.

If more than one source package record containing Vcs-* fields is available, debcheckout will select the record with the highest version number. Alternatively, a particular version may be selected from those available by specifying the package name as PACKAGE=VERSION.

If you already know the URL of a given repository you can invoke debcheckout directly on it, but you will probably need to pass the appropriate -t flag.

The currently supported version control systems are: arch, bzr, cvs, darcs, git, hg, svn.


-a, --auth
work in authenticated mode; this means that for known repositories (mainly those hosted on URL rewriting is attempted before checking out, to ensure that the repository can be committed to. For example, for subversion repositories hosted on alioth this means that svn+ssh:// will be used instead of svn://
-h, --help
print a detailed help message and exit
-p, --print
only print information about the package repository, without checking it out; the output format is TAB-separated with two fields: repository type, repository URL
-t TYPE, --type TYPE
set the repository type (defaults to "svn"), should be one of the currently supported repository types
specify the login name to be used in authenticated mode (see -a). This option implies -a: you don't need to specify both
-f, --file
Specify that the named file should be extracted from the repository and placed in the destionation directory. May be used more than once to extract mutliple files.


apt-cache(8), Section 4.10.4 of the Debian Developer's Reference and/or Bug#391023 in the Debian Bug Tracking System (for more information about Vcs-* fields)


debcheckout and this manpage have been written by Stefano Zacchiroli <>