dpkg-cross(1) manage libraries for cross compiling

Copyright and Licence

 Copyright (C) 1997-2000  Roman Hodek <[email protected]>
 Copyright (C) 2000-2002  Colin Watson <[email protected]>
 Copyright (C) 2002-2004  David Schleef <[email protected]>
 Copyright (C) 2004  Nikita Youshchenko <[email protected]>
 Copyright (C) 2004  Raphael Bossek <[email protected]>
 Copyright (c) 2007-2011  Neil Williams <[email protected]>
 Copyright (c) 2011  Wookey <[email protected]>
 This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
 it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
 the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or
 (at your option) any later version.
 This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
 but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
 GNU General Public License for more details.
 You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
 along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software
 Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301, USA.


dpkg-cross [OPTIONS] [--install|-i] <files...>
dpkg-cross [OPTIONS] [--build|-b] <files...>
dpkg-cross [OPTIONS] [--remove|--purge|-r] <packages...>
dpkg-cross [OPTIONS] [--status|-s] <packages...>
dpkg-cross [OPTIONS] [--list|-l] <packages...>
dpkg-cross [OPTIONS] [--list-files|-L] <packages...>
dpkg-cross [OPTIONS] [--query|-Q] <pkgpath>
dpkg-cross [OPTIONS] [--update|-u] <pkgpath>

OPTIONS: [ -v | --verbose ] [ -q | --quiet ]
{ [ -a | --arch ] architecture } { [ -X | --exclude ] PACKAGE }
[ -A | --convert-anyway ] [ -M | --convert-multiarch ] [ -k | --keep-temp ]


dpkg-cross is a tool to install and manage libraries and header files for cross compiling. dpkg-cross converts native Debian packages for the target architecture to cross compiling support packages that can be installed on any architecture, but in different paths to avoid conflicts. It then calls dpkg to install the converted package. The conversion step alone can be done with the --build option. Other options are wrappers around corresponding dpkg functionality.

dpkg-cross is intended to make it easier for you to keep your cross compiling libraries up-to-date, as it works directly on Debian packages. It saves you copying the libs and headers from a machine with your target architecture, or extracting them via dpkg-deb --fsys-tarfile.

dpkg-cross also collects and install the .shlibs files in -dev packages, which are needed by dpkg-shlibdeps.


CMake cross-building support is experimental!

CMake requires a little support from dpkg-cross to cross-build. The included cmake support file is an example for Linux kernels. Use:

 rm CMakeCache.txt
 cmake -DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=/etc/dpkg-cross/cmake/CMakeCross.txt

The main changes involve setting PKG_CONFIG_LIBDIR within CMake an setting the include directories to locate the cross libraries installed by dpkg-cross e.g.

 #Make pkg-config look in the right place

Packages using cmake may need some tweaks to debian/rules, e.g.

 export CC=$(DEB_HOST_GNU_TYPE)-gcc
 export CXX=$(DEB_HOST_GNU_TYPE)-g++
 export CMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=/etc/dpkg-cross/cmake/CMakeCross.txt
 export CC=gcc
 export CXX=g++


dpkg-cross follows the usual GNU command line syntax, with long options starting with two dashes ('-').


Show summary of options.


Be more verbose.


Be more quiet.

 -a|--arch architecture

Install for architecture architecture.


Install Debian packages (.deb) named on the command line. Only files in the directories /lib, /usr/lib and /usr/include are extracted, since only they can be relevant for cross compiling. In the lib directories, also no subdirectories are extracted.


Convert Debian package even if it does not provide any files useful for cross-compile environment.


Convert package even if it is a multiarch package. If the package is not a multiarch package, processing continues as normal.

 -X|--exclude PACKAGE

Removes the specified package from the dependencies of the current package. Typically used to drop dependencies on packages that are not required within a cross-build environment, e.g. packages containing only executables or architecture independent files.

dpkg-cross can only check the current package and information about a dependency is not available (for that, use xapt). By default, dpkg-cross converts all dependencies to specify the cross version of the dependency package.

If you know that a particular dependency should not be converted (it provides no useful files or is architecture independent), that dependency can be excluded and dpkg-cross will remove that package from the dependency information of the cross package. -X has replaced the use of keepdeps and removedeps in /etc/dpkg-cross/cross-compile.

-X|--exclude PACKAGE needs to be repeated for each package to be excluded.


Keep the built and installed package instead of deleting it. Requires --install.


Just build the converted Debian package, but do not install it with dpkg.


Remove the cross compiling packages named on the command line.


Print status of the named packages.


Print short version of status of named packages or package name patterns.


List files belonging to the named packages.


Update current cross-installation with Debian packages found in/under the paths given as arguments. Will check all packages there if they are installed already as cross-compiling packages and if they are really updates. Those packages will be installed as with -i.


Much like --update, but just prints available update packages and does not install them.


/etc/dpkg-cross/cross-compile defines the default_arch for dpkg-cross:

The default architecture for dpkg-cross is normally set by debconf. To change the system-wide value, use:

 $ sudo dpkg-reconfigure dpkg-cross

Alternatively, the default can be overridden on a per-user basis using the optional file in $HOME/.dpkg-cross/

Conversion process

There is no safe way for dpkg-cross to mangle certain files in -dev packages, particularly files in /usr/share or to determine precisely which of these files could be parsed and which cannot. Special cases do not help - dpkg-cross already has too many of those.

It is not safe to leave files in the package nor is it safe to move files into arbitrary locations when there is no reliable and standardised way to determine the usefulness of a particular kind of file. Package specific config scripts cannot be supported and even build-system specific ones are not necessarily going to work without a lot of ongoing maintenance.

Therefore, "dpkg-cross" is very restrictive on which files are retained in the -cross package.

Files to be converted

All files in


Also /usr/src and /usr/lib are searched for includes - files with .h, .hh, .hpp extensions (case insensitive).

Library files - *.so* and *.a and *.o files from /lib and /usr/lib (and all the multilib eqivalents (lib64, lib32, libo32, libhf, libx32 etc). Other library files are not copied. *.la files in library directories are also copied, and library and paths are modified there. Same for /usr/lib/pkgconfig/*.pc files.

Symlinks are copied (and modified appropriately) if their destination is copied. Also, symlinks to non-existing shared libraries are copied (this is common case for libdevel packages)

Directories are created only to hold some files or symlinks. No empty directories are copied.

Multiarch behaviour

By default <dpkg-cross> does nothing with packages from Debian which already support Multi-Arch - the package is simply copied to the current work directory, if it does not already exist. Any package containing a Multi-Arch: field in DEBIAN/control is skipped in this manner.

--convert-multiarch can be specified to instead force the generation of a -<arch>-cross package with the files moved into the conventional dpkg-cross locations.

The Multiarch spec ensures that multiarch packages will only be available from Debian mirrors once dpkg itself is capable of installing the packages and installing a Multiarch package means being able to install a 32bit multiarch package alongside a 64bit multiarch package. Installing an armel multiarch package alongside an x86 multiarch package is no different to 32bit vs 64bit. (What changes is how the multiarch package itself handles the header files and pkg-config files.)