copyright file in deb package – how to

copyright file in deb package – how to

I’m trying to create a deb package from binaries but I have a problem with copyright file.
If I place a file named copyright inside DEBIAN folder it complains of two things:

  • Missing copyright
  • Unknown control file copyright

If I place it under /usr/share/doc or /usr/share/doc/mypackage it does not complain at all but, in any case, when I open generated debian package, Ubuntu Software Center states License: Unknown

Using: ubuntu raring

Executing fakeroot dpkg-deb -z8 -Zgzip --build myproj

Copyright file looks as follows:

Upstream-Name: myproj

Files: *
Copyright: 2013 myproj. All rights reserved.
License: Limited Use Software License Agreement
 License Text Here

if you build a package using low-level tools like dpkg-deb you should have a good knowledge on the internals of a debian package.

the DEBIAN/-folder is really only for control files, e.g. the control description file of the package, and various pre/post installation scripts (e.g. postinst).

otoh, the usual way to build packages is using high-level tools, namely dpkg-buildpackage, which uses a debian/ directory, which has a similar name to DEBIAN/ but is really something completely different (note the upper/lower case spelling).

dpkg-buildpackage (or rather it’s underlying tools like debhelper or cdbs or whatever you choose) will install the debian/changelog file into /usr/share/doc/<packagename>/.
if you insist on using low-level tools, then you must not put your changelog into DEBIAN/ but rather into /usr/share/doc/myproj/.

btw, you should use the DEP5-format described in it’s final version and also indicate that you did so using


Apparently the “Unknown” issue in Ubuntu Software Center is not an issue and cannot be solved for the moment.
From ubuntu lists, Feb’13 thread:

Your copyright file looks perfect. Unfortunately, software-center
still doesn’t actually parse the copyright file to gather that
information. It seems to use “License: Open Source” or everything in
Ubuntu main and universe, “Proprietary” for things in restricted, and
“Unknown” for everything else. There is an open bug report about the
issue here:

They started working in the issue in July