deb is a format and software packaging extension for the Linux distribution from Debian family and its derivatives. In this guide, we will explore how to extract a .deb package file. This is relevant to Software developers working on Debian related applications.

Debian applications are packaged as regular ar archives. A Debian package generally has three main files:

  • debian-binary: regular text file which stores the version of the deb package format.
  • control.tar.gz: This compressed file contains file md5sums and control directory for the deb package.
  • data.tar.xz: Contains all the installation files.

There are two common ways of unpacking a deb package.

Using ar command

You can also use the ar command with –x parameter. The ar command is provided by binutils package.

sudo apt -y install binutils tree
ar -x mysql-apt-config_0.8.13-1_all.deb

If you want more verbose output, add the -v argument like this:

$ ar -xv mysql-apt-config_0.8.13-1_all.deb
x - debian-binary
x - control.tar.xz
x - data.tar.xz


$ tree
├── control.tar.xz
├── data.tar.xz
├── debian-binary
└── mysql-apt-config_0.8.13-1_all.deb

0 directories, 4 files

Using dpkg command

If you’re running a Debian based system. you can use dpkg command to extract a .deb package. Let’s consider an example.

mkdir extrated
dpkg -x mysql-apt-config_0.8.13-1_all.deb extrated

There you have it. You have successfully extracted a deb package.

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