Debian Lua policy (v 23)



In the following we shall write {VARIABLE} to mean a schema of file names. The following ones are the most relevant:


For every library two packages will be available, one containing only the minimum needed to run require "{LUA_MODNAME}" and one with all the other stuff (documentation or headers and library files to link standalone applications). The former package will be named lua-{PKG_NAME} while the latter will be named lua-{PKG_NAME}-dev even if it contains only documentation (like pure lua libraries). The motivation is that it may be modified in the future to include some C parts (and this would imply a renaming).

The headers files .h are intended to declare the simple luaopen_{LUA_MODNAME} function.

To avoid bloating the Debian archive with minuscule packages, a -doc package should be provided only if documentation is very large. Including a short documentation in the -dev package does not hurt.

If the same source package is able to provide more than one couple of deb packages (like luasql, that provides various backends) only one copy of the source package should be added to the archive and let that package generate all the needed debs. All packages should be named with a common prefix, like lua-{PKG_NAME}- that in the case of luasql will produce the following debs: lua-sql-mysql, lua-sql-mysql-dev, lua-sql-sqlite and lua-sql-sqlite-dev.

If the package is made of a common part the best would be to put it in a package whose name ends with the -common suffix. All debs should then depend on it. This avoids playing with diversions. The same also applies to documentation, that (if common to all debs) should not be replicated on all -dev packages, but put in a -doc package.

Packages Contents

Here a listing of the contents of the two packages will follow.

Run time package: lua-{PKG_NAME}

Development package: lua-{PKG_NAME}-dev

Should a -doc package exist, only the following files will be contained in the package:

Packages Contents (an example)



Creating a package in a quick and clean way

Since all lua libraries look almost the same, we provide a common set of templates to help building packages conforming the policy and allowing single-place modification all over these packages.

The dh-lua package

The following files are contained in the package:

Since these files are needed at compile time, you should put dh-lua in your Build-Depends field. In addition to these files it provides the following utility:

Then it is necessary to edit debian/dh-lua.conf, create a changelog file with dch --create, write down the debian/control and debian/copyright files.

Writing a debian/dh-lua.conf file

You will find a template file called dh-lua.conf in the dh-lua package (see /usr/share/dh-lua/template/).

Note that if you used the lua-create-svnbuildpackage-layout utility to create the package svn repository, you will find a template in debian/.

The LUA_VERSION field is mandatory, unless you name the dh-lua configuration file in a special way (see Multiple packages)

The PKG_NAME field is mandatory, the usual name of the library should be used (like curl or logging for luacurl and lualogging).

The next part is for the C part of the library (if any).

Remember that all .c files have to produce a .lo files (in libtool tradition). List them in the CLIB_OBJS field. CLIB_CFLAGS and CLIB_LDFLAGS have the standard meaning (see the make manual), while the CLIB_LDFLAGS_STATIC variant is used when building the statically linked test application (if LUA_TEST is not empty).

VERSION_INFO is libtool specific (read libtool documentation if in doubt). It should be avoided in packages created using dh-lua, it is there for retrocompatibility with the lua5.1-policy-dev helper.

The next part is for the lua part of the library (if any).

LUA_MODNAME will be the module name used inside lua (with require), if empty PKG_NAME will be used. LUA_HEADER points to the file (if any) that declares the luaopen_LUA_MODNAME_CPART C function (if the library has a C part), if omitted (and if the library has a C part) a trivial .h file will be automatically generated. LUA_SOURCES point to the .lua files. LUA_SOURCES_MANGLER is a program that takes in standard input one item in LUA_SOURCES and mangles it. The default value is cat that makes no change. Note that the escape character \ has to be doubled, for example \(a\|b\) becomes \\(a\\|b\\) and \1 becomes \\1. Single quotes ' should be avoided in favour of double quotes ". LUA_SOURCES_ARCHDEP can be used to specify sources that needs to be installed in architecture specific paths, like /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/lua/{PLUA_VERSION}. This is useful for .lua files specific using luajit facilities to access C data structures. LUA_TEST points to the test file that will be run once the library is compiled. LUA_MODNAME_CPART is the suffix of the C function to load the module (if empty LUA_MODNAME is used).

The next part is for pkg-config (if the library has a C part).

All these fields are explained in the manpage of pkg-config. If PKG_VERSION is unspecified, the following one liner is run to compute a value starting from debian/changelog:

dpkg-parsechangelog | grep ^Ver | cut -d ' ' -f 2 | cut -d '-' -f 1

The rules file

If you used the lua-create-svnbuildpackage-layout a standard file is placed in debian/ for you. If not, you can use this one:

#!/usr/bin/make -f

        dh $@ --buildsystem=lua --with lua

Note that there are various targets one can hook to in order to fix things. The following example illustrates how to add extra stuff to the configuration phase, the testing phase and how to clean up the mess at the end:

    echo "do some extra stuff before"
    echo "and some more after"

    echo "prepare the test phase"

    echo "remove the mess!"

No .install files

All .install files are provided by two templates part of dh-lua. The template generates the following lua-{PKG_NAME}.install file:


Where {LUA_MODNAME_UNDERSCORE} is {LUA_MODNAME} where . is replaced by _. Also, a line is generated only if it is relevant. In the example above the package in question has both a C and a Lua part.

The template generates the following lua-{PKG_NAME}-dev.install file:


If you need to ship more files, you may add a file. This file can contain a line like the following one to reuse the text of the template file:

include @@TEMPLATE@@/

Moreover, to ship your files to the right path, take into account that @@LUA_VERSION@@ string is substituted with the{LUA_VERSION} value, @@DEB_HOST_MULTIARCH@@ with the corresponding dpkg-architecture -qDEB_HOST_MULTIARCH value.

To install documentation, please use a .docs file.

The control file

Two variables will be automatically substituted by dh-lua in the control file.

In this way apt-cache search 5.2 lpeg finds the lua-lpeg package. Moreover a software can just declare a dependency over lua5.2-lpeg if sufficient.

Multiple packages from the same source

It is possible that the same source package provides more (and distinct) modules. This is the case for luasql that provides various backends. dh-lua is able to cope with this situation if it finds a set of files (and not a single file) that match the pattern debian/*dh-lua.conf.

The variables {PKG_NAME} and {LUA_MODNAME} can be set using the . symbol to separate modules. In luasql the file debian/mysql.dh-lua.conf defines:

The latter is the one expected since it is the same string used with require, while the former is used to infer the deb package name, substituting . with - when needed.

A special case is when the the configuration file name starts with lua${LUA_VERSION}. In that case the LUA_VERSION variable can be omitted and it is automatically set to the value extracted from the file name. Supported values are 5.3, 5.2 and 5.1. This makes it possible to use one single conf file to build the library for many Lua version. It is sufficient to name the file like debian/lua5.1.lpeg.dh-lua.conf and add a symlink to it named like debian/lua5.2.lpeg.dh-lua.conf. Of course this trick can be used only if the library is agnostic and works out of the box with both versions of Lua with no modifications.

Automatically testing your package

If you specify the LUA_TEST variable in the dh-lua.conf file, three tests will be performed after compilation and before building the package.

  #include "@@LUA_HEADER@@"
  static void app_open(lua_State* L){

Multiple tests can be separated by a ;, like in LUA_TEST=test1.lua; test2.lua. Moreover one can give a context for the test like in LUA_TEST=cd test/ && @@LUA@@ test.lua. @@LUA@@ will be substituted with the something like LUA_INIT=... lua5.1 -l${LUA_MODNAME}. Of course you cannot use ;.

To run a custom command, for example to avoid -l${LUA_MODNAME}, the LUA_TEST_CUSTOM variable can be used instead. There ; can be used, @@LUA@@ is substituted for something like LUA_INIT=... lua5.1. Shell expansions are not reliable anyway. To code for X in a b; do echo $X; done one has to write $(foreach X,a b,echo $(X);), using make syntax.


dh-lua understands DH_VERBOSE. For example tp get verbose output for the test phase, you can put the following lines in debian/rules:

    DH_VERBOSE=1 dh_auto_test

Fine tuning dh-lua while developing

The DH_LUA_OPTS variable can be set to a space separated list of the following values:

Notes on undefined symbols and packages dependencies

All lua libraries are not linked against, so all lua_ and luaL_ prefixed symbols will appear as undefined (i.e. using objdump -T to inspect them and look for symbols marked with *UND*). This is a feature since:

As a side effect, all lua libraries do not depend on the liblua5.1 package (and must not declare it in the Depends field).

All dependencies among other lua libraries must be declared. A -dev package must depend on the -dev packages corresponding to the other lua libraries that it uses, while the runtime package (non -dev package) must depend only on the runtime package relative to the other lua libraries that it uses.

Notes on source package names

All source packages should be named lua-{PKG_NAME} for consistency.

Notes on multi-version Lua scripts in PATH

If you have a Lua scripts meant to be executed (installed in the PATH) that works with many Lua versions (but not all of them). The lua-any wrapper may come handy.

Example of shebang line:

#!/usr/bin/env lua-any
-- Lua-Versions: 5.1 5.2

Example of control file:

Depends: lua-any, lua5.1 | lua5.2

For more details, refer to the lua-any man page.

This file follows the markdown syntax. See Markdown and lua markdown.