dh_install - install files into package build directories


dh_install [-Xitem] [--autodest] [--sourcedir=dir] [debhelper options] [file [...] dest]


dh_install is a debhelper program that handles installing files into package build directories. There are many dh_install* commands that handle installing specific types of files such as documentation, examples, man pages, and so on, and they should be used when possible as they often have extra intelligence for those particular tasks. dh_install, then, is useful for installing everything else, for which no particular intelligence is needed. It is a replacement for the old dh_movefiles command.

Files named debian/package.install list the files to install into each package and the directory they should be installed to. The format is a set of lines, where each line lists a file or files to install, and at the end of the line tells the directory it should be installed in. The name of the files (or directories) to install should be given relative to the current directory, while the installation directory is given relative to the package build directory. You may use wildcards in the names of the files to install (in v3 mode and above).

This program may be used in one of two ways. If you just have a file or two that the upstream Makefile does not install for you, you can run dh_install on them to move them into place. On the other hand, maybe you have a large package that builds multiple binary packages. You can use the upstream Makefile to install it all into debian/tmp, and then use dh_install to copy directories and files from there into the proper package build directories.

From debhelper compatibility level 7 on, dh_install will fall back to looking in debian/tmp for files, if it doesn't find them in the current directory (or whereever you've told it to look using --srcdir).


-Xitem, --exclude=item
Exclude files that contain "item" anywhere in their filename from being installed.

Guess as the destination directory to install things to. If this is specified, you should not list destination directories in debian/package.install files or on the command line. Instead, dh_install will guess as follows:

Strip off debian/tmp (or the sourcedir if one is given) from the front of the filename, if it is present, and install into the dirname of the filename. So if the filename is debian/tmp/usr/bin, then that directory will be copied to debian/package/usr/. If the filename is debian/tmp/etc/passwd, it will be copied to debian/package/etc/.

Note that if you list exactly one filename or wildcard-pattern on a line by itself in a debian/package.install file, with no explicit destination, then dh_install will automatically guess the destination even if this flag is not set.


This option makes dh_install keep track of the files it installs, and then at the end, compare that list with the files in the source directory. If any of the files (and symlinks) in the source directory were not installed to somewhere, it will warn on stderr about that.

This may be useful if you have a large package and want to make sure that you don't miss installing newly added files in new upstream releases.

Note that files that are excluded from being moved via the -X option are not warned about.

This option is like --list-missing, except if a file was missed, it will not only list the missing files, but also fail with a nonzero exit code.

Makes all source files be found under dir. If this is specified, it is akin to all the source filenames having "dir/" prepended to them.

To make dh_install behave like the old dh_movefiles, move your package.files file to package.install and call dh_install with "--sourcedir=debian/tmp" appended to the command. This will approximate dh_movefiles behaviour, except it will copy files instead of moving them.

file [...] dest
Lists files (or directories) to install and where to install them to. The files will be installed into the first package dh_install acts on.


Suppose your package's upstream Makefile installs a binary, a man page, and a library into appropriate subdirectories of debian/tmp. You want to put the library into package libfoo, and the rest into package foo. Your rules file will run "dh_install --sourcedir=debian/tmp". Make debian/foo.install contain:


While debian/libfoo.install contains:


If you want a libfoo-dev package too, debian/libfoo-dev.install might contain:



dh_install cannot rename files or directories, it can only install them with the names they already have into wherever you want in the package build tree.



This program is a part of debhelper.


Joey Hess <>