tl;dr for package maintainers who’d like to migrate

If you’re using dh with compat ≥ 9

Say you’re preparing freeradius 3.0.11-1 and want to switch from a -dbg package to automatically created -dbgsym packages. You would:

  1. Change your existing dh_strip -a --dbg-package=freeradius-dbg to dh_strip --dbgsym-migration='freeradius-dbg (<< 3.0.11-1~)'

  2. Delete the freeradius-dbg package from debian/control
  3. Bump the Build-Depends to debhelper (>= 9.20160114) or newer.


The proposal is to automatically produce debugging symbols for everything in the archive, without the developers needing to add -dbg packages everywhere, which are rarely used and right now we mirror everywhere.


This proposal is implemented. Although some of the items listed below may be different from the current implementation.

The automatic dbgsym packages are available from a separate archive. Please fetch these or They are also available on They are only available for testing, unstable and experimental at this point in time.

deb testing-debug main
deb unstable-debug main
deb experimental-debug main


Original proposal created by: ?EmilioPozueloMonfort; his version is at AutomaticDebugPackages/OldProposal

New proposal created by: SamuelBronson (please feel free to edit, though!)


Original "Why"

This thread in debian-devel expresses the need of this change. The reasons mentioned there include:

We don't want to completely remove them without having a replacement though. They are very useful when the time arises. The proposed replacement is to automatically build .ddeb packages that contain those debug symbols, and that are moved to a separate component/archive that isn't mirrored. That way we get debugging symbols for every binary in the archive with no effort, and solve the mirror problems.

Existing Practice


StackTraces Packaging:Debuginfo


Ubuntu has already done this.

See their spec and the package they use to generate ddebs.

TL;DR: they divert dh_strip to generate -dbgsym packages with filenames ending in .ddeb, and set up their archive manager to keep those somewhere out-of-the-way. One thing that's changed since they wrote the spec is the handling of packages that already ship symbols in -dbg binary packages: instead of making -dbgsym packages that conflicts with & breaks the -dbg packages, it now makes the -dbgsym packages into metapackages that pull in the relevant -dbg packages.


As Ubuntu's scheme seems good, we should just copy it, except presumably without the diversion of dh_strip.

It seems like all we really need to do here is:

  1. Prepare dak to accept ddebs and file them appropriately. (Maybe britney too?)
  2. Modify dh_strip to do what Ubuntu's pkg-create-dbgsym would make it do. (In theory we could just use pkg-create-dbgsym, but we won't because it diverts dh_strip, which obfuscates things and prevents others (like users) from diverting it.)
  3. Fix any packages that somehow take exception to the unexpected debuginfo packages.
  4. [at leisure] Drop -dbg packages, or if they contain something besides separate debug info, drop the separate debug info and rename the packages.



This describes the implementation in debhelper/9.20160114 (first implementation was 9.20151219) - it may have changed since then:


ddeb can be installed into the same archive then the other packages and everything else should still work. They would be excluded on a per-mirror basis.



Warn about -dbg packages that are duplicates of the -dbgsym packages.