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WARNING: java-package is obsolete and will no longer be available with Squeeze.
JavaPackage is a utility for packaging a non-free Java™ 2 Standard Edition (J2SE) Java™ Runtime Environment (JRE) or Java™ Development Kit (JDK) as a Debian package. JavaPackage provides the capability to create a Debian package from a Java™ 2 distribution. Should your interest be more on the development with Java under Debian, then follow the Java link. To learn more about the packaging of Java-written programs and libraries for Debian, see Teams/JavaPackaging.
To prepare a .deb (regular Debian package) out of .bin files from Sun or Blackdown and .tar.gz files from IBM, or from the .zip files for Sun's API Javadoc, simply execute
$ fakeroot make-jpkg <filename>
This program works currently with JREs and JDKs from Sun (1.3 JRE, 1.4 and 1.5), and ?IBM (1.3, 1.4 and 1.5 beta). It also works with the API Javadoc from Sun (1.3, 1.4 and 1.5). It should be pointed out, that with the advent of the openjdk package in the Debian main distribution, such packages are no longer of interest to the mainstream of the Debian userbase.
apt-get install java-package (see DebianPackageManagement, note that java-package is not in the main sources, you need to add contrib to your /etc/apt/sources.list ),
fakeroot make-jpkg jre-1_5_0-linux-i586.bin dpkg -i sun-j2re1.5_1.5.0+final_i386.deb
By default the DebianAlternatives will automatically install the best version of Java as the default version. The Sun Java version as packaged by the java-package make-jpkg will produce a package with a quite high priority alternative. If the symlinks have been manually set they will be preserved by the tools. The update-alternatives tools try hard to respect explicit configuration from the local admin. Local manual symlinks appear to be an explicit configuration. In order to reset the alternative symlinks to their default value use the --auto option.
sudo update-alternatives --auto java
If you'd like to override the default to perhaps use a specific version then use --config and manually select the desired version.
update-alternatives --display java sudo update-alternatives --config java
Choose the appropriate number for the desired alternative.
The appropriate java binary will automatically be in PATH by virtue of the /usr/bin/java alternative symlink.