Converting packages with Alien

First Contact


The Alien package conversion tool can be very effective but can also generate unpredictable results. We show how to get the most out of this tool.

I can't lie to you about your chances, but you have my sympathies. – Ash to Ripley in Alien

Debian packages have a reputation for reliability, but Alien [1] is a notable exception. The problem has nothing to do with its code. Rather, the problem is that its purpose – to convert packages to other formats – is so dependent on the purpose and quality of the packages it works with that the success rate is mostly unpredictable. Despite its limitations, Alien remains a popular package. The dream of compatibility across package formats is simply too tantalizing to abandon.

Alien was first written before the turn of the millennium, when the balance of power between package managers was more equal. Back then, developer Joey Hess thought it made sense to give Debian a means of converting .rpm packages to .deb format.


Use Express-Checkout link below to read the full article (PDF).

Read full article as PDF:

Price $2.95

Related content

  • Charly's Column

    When ports on a host start opening and closing like window shutters in a gale, it’s time for admins to pay attention.

  • Tweak Images with Converseen
  • Smart Package Manager

    The package manager is one of the central components on any Linux system. If you have a system with unreliable package management – such as Suse Linux 10.1 – you may want to consider the Smart alternative.

  • Free Software Projects

    OpenWRT puts Linux on WLAN routers and helps users set up large-scale WLANs at home, and the FreeWRT derivative adds a professional touch. If you don’t have your own compile farm, the OpenSUSE build service may be just what you need. And we investigate the obstacles to new packages for Debian.

  • SmartPM

    The Smart Package Manager makes everyday tasks of handling RPM and DEB packages simple but has a full set of controls for experts.

comments powered by Disqus

Direct Download

Read full article as PDF:

Price $2.95