Static analysis tool for Debian packages
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Lintian - Static Debian package analysis tool

Lintian is a static analysis tool for finding many bugs, policy violations and other issues in Debian based packages. It can process binary Debian packages (.deb), micro/installer packages (.udeb), Debian source packages (.dsc) and (to a limited degree) the "changes" files.

Running Lintian

Running Lintian is as simple as invoking

$ lintian path/to/pkg_version_arch.changes

Alternatively, you can pass Lintian binary/udeb or dsc files directly instead of the .changes file. Lintian is designed to work directly from the source tree (simply use "frontend/lintian" itself).

For information about command options, please run lintian (or lintian-info) with "--help". Alternatively, you can also read the manpages lintian(1) and lintian-info(1).

Advice / Tips and Tricks

If there is a tag you are not familiar with, you can use "--info" or lintian-info to get more information:

$ lintian-info -t no-version-field

If you want to enable all tags, simply use the "Evil and pedantic" mnemonic:

$ lintian -EvIL +pedantic path/to/pkg_version_arch.changes

You may want to drop the "-v", which may make Lintian more verbose than you would like. Also, keep in mind that "-E" enables "experimental" tags and "-L +pedantic" enables some very pedantic tags.

Lintian is not always right! Static analysis involves a trade-off between "accuracy" and CPU/memory usage. Furthermore, in some cases, certain packages trigger a corner case where the Debian Policy gives more leeway than Lintian does.

If you have installed Lintian via the "lintian" Debian package, you can find the Lintian User's Manual in:

$ sensible-browser /usr/share/doc/lintian/lintian.html/index.html
# or in txt format
$ less /usr/share/doc/lintian/lintian.txt.gz

Alternatively, Debian provides an on-line version of the manual on the Lintian web site.

Compiling Lintian

Lintian is written in pure Perl and therefore does not require any "building" at all. Consequently, Lintian currently does not have a build system. Instead it relies on its Debian build system (implemented in debian/rules) and debhelper. Thus, on Debian-based systems, installing the build dependencies (see debian/control) and running:

$ dpkg-buildpackage

will provide you with a "lintian" Debian package.

So far there has been little work in providing a stand-alone build system as Lintian requires a fair share of "Debian specific" tools and libraries, including the "Dpkg" and "AptPkg" Perl modules.

We are willing to accept and maintain a stand-alone build system for Lintian. Where not intrusive, we may also be willing to accept alternative dependencies for "Debian specific" libraries/tools.

Developing/Patching Lintian

If you are interested in developing patches for Lintian or just writing your own Lintian checks, please review


Please file bugs against the "lintian" package in the Debian Bug Tracker. We recommend using reportbug(1) for filing bugs, but in its absence you send a mail to the BTS.

Any comments, critics, or suggestions about Lintian or related topics are highly appreciated by the authors! Please contact Thanks!

Please note that all data submitted to the Debian Bug Tracker and the address will be available to the general public. Should you be aware of a severe non-disclosed security issue in Lintian, then please contact the Debian Security Team instead.