Packaging Debian

(Tested on Ubuntu 14.04, 16.04, 17.10, 18.04, Debian jessie, stretch and buster.)

  1. Install the Debian packaging tools:

    sudo apt install fakeroot debhelper devscripts
  2. Checkout FRR under an unprivileged user account:

    git clone frr
    cd frr

    If you wish to build a package for a branch other than master:

    git checkout <branch>
  3. Install build dependencies using the mk-build-deps tool from the devscripts package:

    sudo mk-build-deps --install debian/control

    Alternatively, you can manually install build dependencies for your platform as outlined in Building FRR.

  4. Run tools/ -V:

    ./tools/ -V

    This script sets up the debian/changelog-auto file with proper version information.

  5. (optional) Append a distribution identifier if needed (see below under Multi-Distribution builds.)

  6. Build Debian Package:

    dpkg-buildpackage $options

    Where $options may contain any or all of the following items:

    • build profiles specified with -P, e.g. -Ppkg.frr.nortrlib,pkg.frr.nosystemd. Multiple values are separated by commas and there must not be a space after the -P.

      The following build profiles are currently available:

      Profile Negation Effect
      pkg.frr.rtrlib pkg.frr.nortrlib builds frr-rpki-rtrlib package (or not)
      n/a pkg.frr.nosystemd removes libsystemd dependency and disables unit file installation


      The pkg.frr.nosystemd option is only intended to support Ubuntu 14.04 (and should be enabled when building for that.)

    • the -uc -us options to disable signing the packages with your GPG key

      (git builds of the master or stable/X.X branches won’t be signed by default since their target release is set to UNRELEASED.)

  7. Done!

    If all worked correctly, then you should end up with the Debian packages in the parent directory of where debuild ran. If distributed, please make sure you distribute it together with the sources (frr_*.orig.tar.xz, frr_*.debian.tar.xz and frr_*.dsc)


A package created from master or stable/X.X is slightly different from a package created from the debian branch. The changelog for the former is autogenerated and sets the Debian revision to -0, which causes an intentional lintian warning. The debian branch on the other hand has a manually maintained changelog that contains proper Debian release versioning.

Furthermore, official Debian packages are built in 3.0 (quilt) format with an “orig” tarball and a “debian” tarball. These tarballs are created by the tool on any branch. The git repository however contains a 3.0 (git) source format specifier to easily allow direct git builds.

Multi-Distribution builds

You can optionally append a distribution identifier in case you want to make multiple versions of the package available in the same repository. Do the following after creating the changelog with

dch -l '~deb8u' 'build for Debian 8 (jessie)'
dch -l '~deb9u' 'build for Debian 9 (stretch)'
dch -l '~ubuntu14.04.' 'build for Ubuntu 14.04 (trusty)'
dch -l '~ubuntu16.04.' 'build for Ubuntu 16.04 (xenial)'
dch -l '~ubuntu18.04.' 'build for Ubuntu 18.04 (bionic)'

Between building packages for specific distributions, the only difference in the package itself lies in the automatically generated shared library dependencies, e.g. libjson-c2 or libjson-c3. This means that the architecture independent packages should not have a suffix appended. Also, the current Debian testing/unstable releases should not have any suffix appended.

For example, at the end of 2018 (i.e. buster/Debian 10 is the current “testing” release), the following is a complete list of .deb files for Debian 8, 9 and 10 packages for FRR 6.0.1-1 with RPKI support:


Note that there are no extra versions of the frr-doc and frr-pythontools packages (because they are for architecture all, not amd64), and the version for Debian 10 does not have a ~deb10u1 suffix.


Do not use the - character in the version suffix. The last - in the version number is the separator between upstream version and Debian version. 6.0.1-1~foobar-2 means upstream version 6.0.1-1~foobar, Debian version 2. This is not what you want.

The only allowed characters in the Debian version are 0-9 A-Z a-z + . ~


The separating character for the suffix must be the tilde (~) because the tilde is ordered in version-comparison before the empty string. That means the order of the above packages is the following:

6.0.1-1 newer than 6.0.1-1~deb9u1 newer than 6.0.1-1~deb8u1

If you use another character (e.g. +), the untagged version will be regarded as the “oldest”!