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# Copyright 2010 Niels Thykier
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#  - based on the work Richard Braakman and Christian
#    Schwarz (copyrighted 1998).
# This manual page is free software.  It is distributed under the
# terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free
# Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your
# option) any later version.
# This manual page is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
# but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
# GNU General Public License for more details.
# You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
# along with this manual page; if not, write to the Free Software
# Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA  02110-1301

=head1 NAME

lintian - Static analysis tool for Debian packages


B<lintian> [I<action>] [I<options>] [I<packages>] ...


Lintian dissects Debian packages and reports bugs and policy
violations.  It contains automated checks for many aspects of Debian
policy as well as some checks for common errors.

There are two ways to specify binary, udeb or source packages for
Lintian to process: by file name (the .deb file for a binary package
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or the .dsc file for a source package), or by naming a I<.changes>
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If you specify a I<.changes> file, Lintian will process all packages
listed in that file.  This is convenient when checking a new package
before uploading it.

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If you specify packages to be checked or use the option
B<--packages-from-file>, the packages requested will be processed.
Otherwise, if I<debian/changelog> exists, it is parsed to determine
the name of the .changes file to look for in the parent directory
(when using the actions B<--check> or B<--unpack>).  See
L</CHECKING LAST BUILD> for more information.
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=head1 OPTIONS

Actions of the lintian command: (Only one action can be specified per invocation)

=over 4

=item B<-c>, B<--check>

Run all checks over the specified packages.  This is the default action.

=item B<-C> chk1,chk2,..., B<--check-part> chk1,chk2,...

Run only the specified checks.  You can either specify the name of the
check script or the abbreviation.  For details, see the L</CHECKS> section

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=item B<-F>, B<--ftp-master-rejects>

Run only the checks that issue tags that result in automatic rejects
from the Debian upload queue.  The list of such tags is refreshed with
each Lintian release, so may be slightly out of date if it has changed
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This is implemented via a profile and thus this option cannot be used
together with B<--profile>.

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=item B<-T> tag1,tag2,..., B<--tags> tag1,tag2,...

Run only the checks that issue the requested tags.  The tests for
other tags within the check scripts will be run but the tags will not
be issued.

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With this options all tags listed will be displayed regardless of the
display settings.

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=item B<--tags-from-file> filename

Same functionality as B<--tags>, but read the list of tags from a
file.  Blank lines and lines beginning with # are ignored.  All other
lines are taken to be tag names or comma-separated lists of tag names
to (potentially) issue.

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With this options all tags listed will be displayed regardless of the
display settings.

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=item B<-u>, B<--unpack>

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Unpacks the package will all collections.  See the L</COLLECTION>
section below.

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Note in this option will also run all collections.  See the
L</COLLECTION> section below.
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=item B<-X> chk1,chk2,..., B<--dont-check-part> chk1,chk2,...

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Run all but the specified checks.  You can either specify the name
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of the check script or the abbreviation.  For details, see the
L</CHECKS> section below.


General options:

=over 4

=item B<-h>, B<--help>

Display usage information and exit.

=item B<-q>, B<--quiet>

Suppress all informational messages including override comments
(normally shown with B<--show-overrides>).
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This option is silently ignored if B<--debug> is given.  Otherwise, if
both B<--verbose> and B<--quiet> is used, the last of these two options
take effect.

This option overrides the B<verbose> and the B<quiet> variable in the
configuration file.  In the configuration file, this option is enabled
by using B<quiet> variable.  The B<verbose> and B<quiet> variables may
not both appear in the config file.
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=item B<-v>, B<--verbose>

Display verbose messages.

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If B<--debug> is used this option is always enabled.  Otherwise, if
both B<--verbose> and B<--quiet> is used (and B<--debug> is not used),
the last of these two options take effect.

This option overrides the B<quiet> variable in the configuration file.
In the configuration file, this option is enabled by using B<verbose>
variable.  The B<verbose> and B<quiet> variables may not both appear
in the config file.

=item B<-V>, B<--version>

Display lintian version number and exit.

=item B<--print-version>

Print unadorned version number and exit.
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Behavior options for B<lintian>.
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=over 4

=item B<--color> (never|always|auto|html)

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Whether to colorize tags in lintian output based on their severity.
The default is "never", which never uses color.  "always" will always
use color, "auto" will use color only if the output is going to a
terminal, and "html" will use HTML E<lt>spanE<gt> tags with a color style
attribute (instead of ANSI color escape sequences).

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This option overrides the B<color> variable in the configuration file.

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=item B<--default-display-level>

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Reset the current display level to the default.  Basically, this
option behaves exactly like passing the following options to lintian:

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   B<-L> ">=important" B<-L> "+>=normal/possible" B<-L> "+minor/certain"

The primary use for this is to ensure that lintian's display level has
been reset to the built-in default values.  Notably, this can be used
to override display settings earlier on the command-line or in the
lintian configuration file.

Further changes to the display level can be done I<after> this option.
Example: B<--default-display-level --display-info> gives you the
default display level plus informational ("I:") tags.

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=item B<--display-source> X

Only display tags from the source X (e.g. the Policy Manual or the
Developer Reference).  This option can be used multiple times to
add additional sources.  Example sources are "policy" or "devref"
being the Policy Manual and the Developer Reference (respectively).

The entire list of sources can be found in

=item B<-E>, B<--display-experimental>, B<--no-display-experimental>

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Control whether to display experimental ("X:") tags.  They are
normally suppressed.
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If a tag is marked experimental, this means that the code that
generates this message is not as well tested as the rest of Lintian,
and might still give surprising results.  Feel free to ignore
Experimental messages that do not seem to make sense, though of course
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bug reports are always welcome (particularly if they include fixes).

These options overrides the B<display-experimental> variable in the
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configuration file.

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=item B<-i>, B<--info>

Print explanatory information about each problem discovered in
addition to the lintian error tags. To print a long tag description
without running lintian, see L<lintian-info(1)>.

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This option overrides B<info> variable in the configuration file.

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=item B<-I>, B<--display-info>

Display informational ("I:") tags as well.  They are normally
suppressed.  (This is equivalent to B<-L> ">=wishlist").

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This option overrides the B<display-info> variable in the
configuration file.

Note: B<display-level> and B<display-info> may not both appear in the
configuration file.

=item B<-L> [+|-|=][>=|>|=|<|<=][S|C|S/C], B<--display-level> [+|-|=][>=|>|=|<|<=][S|C|S/C]
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Fine-grained selection of tags to be displayed. It is possible to add,
remove or set the levels to display, specifying a severity (S:
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serious, important, normal, minor, wishlist, pedantic), a certainty
(C: certain, possible, wild-guess), or both (S/C).  The default
settings are equivalent to B<-L> ">=important" B<-L>
"+>=normal/possible" B<-L> "+minor/certain").

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The value consists of 3 parts, where two of them are optional.  The
parts are:

=over 4

=item modifier operator

How to affect the current display level.  Can be one of add to ("+"),
remove from ("-") or set to ("=") the display level(s) denoted by the
following selection.

The default value is "=" (i.e. set the display level).

=item set operator

The set of severity and certainties to be selected.  The operator can
be one of ">=", ">", "=", "<" or "<=".  As an example, this can be used
to select all important (or "more severe") tags via ">=important".

The selected values includes only items where I<both> the severity and
the certainty are both included in the set.

As an example, ">=important/possible" includes "important/possible",
"important/certain", "serious/possible" and "serious/certain".  Note
that it does I<not> include "serious/wild-guess" (since it does not
satisfy the lower-bound for the certainty).

The default value is "=", which means "exactly" the given severity
or/and certainty.

=item severity-certainty

The severity or/and certainty.  This can be any of the 3 forms:
I<severity>, I<certainty> or I<severity>/I<certainty>.

If only a severity or a certainty is given, the other one defaults to
"any" as in "any certainty with the given severity" (or vice versa).


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This option overrides the B<display-level> variable in the
configuration file.  The value of the B<display-level> in
configuration file should be space separated entries in the same
format as passed via command-line.

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Note: B<display-level> may not be used with B<display-info> or B<pedantic>
in the configuration file.

=item B<-o>, B<--no-override>

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Ignore all overrides provided by the package.  This option will overrule

This option overrides the B<override> variable in the configuration
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=item B<--pedantic>

Display pedantic ("P:") tags as well.  They are normally suppressed.
(This is equivalent to B<-L> "+=pedantic").

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Pedantic tags are Lintian at its most pickiest and include checks for
particular Debian packaging styles and checks that many people
disagree with.  Expect false positives and Lintian tags that you don't
consider useful if you use this option.  Adding overrides for pedantic
tags is probably not worth the effort.

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This option overrides the B<pedantic> variable in the configuration

Note: B<pedantic> and B<display-level> may not both appear in the
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configuration file.

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=item B<--profile> vendor[/prof]

Use the profile from vendor (or the profile with that name).  If the
profile name does not contain a slash, the default profile for than
vendor is chosen.

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As an example, if you are on Ubuntu and want to use Lintian's Debian
checks, you can use:

  --profile debian

Likewise, on a Debian machine you can use this to request the Ubuntu

If the token I<{VENDOR}> appears in the profile name, B<lintian> will
substitute the token with a vendor name to find the profile.
B<lintian> uses L<Dpkg::Vendor> to determine the best vendor to use
(the closer to the current vendor, the better).  This is mostly useful
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for people implementing their own checks on top of Lintian.
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If not specified, the default value is I<{VENDOR}/main>.
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Please Refer to the Lintian User Manual for the full documentation of

=item B<--show-overrides>, B<--hide-overrides>

Controls whether tags that have been overridden should be shown.

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The B<--show-overrides> differs from B<--no-overrides> in that shown overridden
tags will still be marked as overridden (using an "O" code).

If the overridden tags are shown, the related override comments will
also be displayed (unless --quiet is used).  Please refer to the Lintian
User Manual for the documentation on how lintian relates comments to a
given override.

These options override the B<show-overrides> variable in the
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configuration file.

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=item B<--suppress-tags> tag1,tag2,...

Suppress the listed tags.  They will not be reported if they occur and
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will not affect the exit status of Lintian.  This option can be given
multiple times and can be mixed with B<--suppress-tags-from-file>.

This option can be used together with B<--dont-check-part> ("Not those
checks nor these tags") and B<--check-part> ("Only those checks, but
not these tags (from those checks)") to further reduce the selection of

When used with B<--tags>, this option is mostly ignored.
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=item B<--suppress-tags-from-file> file

Suppress all tags listed in the given file.  Blank lines and lines
beginning with # are ignored.  All other lines are taken to be tag
names or comma-separated lists of tag names to suppress.  The
suppressed tags will not be reported if they occur and will not affect
the exit status of Lintian.

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Tags parsed from the file will be handled as if they had been given to
the B<--suppress-tags> option (e.g. ignored if B<--tags> is used).

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=item B<--tag-display-limit>[=X]

By default, lintian limits itself to emitting at most 4 instances of each
tag per processable when STDOUT is a TTY.  This option specified that limit.
See also B<--no-tag-display-limit>.

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=item B<--no-tag-display-limit>

By default, lintian limits itself to emitting at most 4 instances of each
tag per processable when STDOUT is a TTY.  This option disables that limit.

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When STDOUT is not a TTY, lintian has no limit. See also

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Configuration options:

=over 4

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=item B<--cfg> configfile

Read the configuration from configfile rather than the default
locations.  This option overrides the B<LINTIAN_CFG> environment

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=item B<--no-cfg>

Do not read any configuration file.  This option overrides the
B<--cfg> above.

=item B<--ignore-lintian-env>

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Ignore all environment variables starting with I<LINTIAN_>.

This option is mostly useful for applications running B<lintian> for
checking packages and do not want the invoking user to affect the
result (by setting LINTIAN_PROFILE etc.).
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Note it does I<not> cause B<lintian> to ignore the entire environment
like I<TMPDIR> or I<DEB_VENDOR>.  The latter can affect the default
profile (or "{VENDOR}" token for B<--profile>).

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Should usually be combined with B<--no-user-dirs> (or unsetting $HOME
and all I<XDG_> variables).

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=item B<--include-dir> dir

Use dir as an additional "LINTIAN_ROOT".  The directory is expected
have a similar layout to the LINTIAN_ROOT (if it exists), but does not
need to be a full self-contained root.

B<lintian> will check this directory for (additional) profiles, data
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files, support libraries and checks.  The latter two imply that
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Lintian may attempt to I<load and execute code> from this directory.

This option may appear more than once; each time adding an additional
directory.  Directories are searched in the order they appear on the
command line.

The additional directories will be checked I<after> the user
directories (though see B<--no-user-dirs>) and I<before> the core

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B<Note>: This option should be the very first if given.

=item B<-j> X, B<--jobs>=X

Set the limit for how many unpacking jobs Lintian will run in
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parallel.  This option overrides the B<jobs> variable in the
configuration file.

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By default Lintian will use I<nproc> to determine a reasonable default
(or 2, if the nproc fails).

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=item B<--user-dirs>, B<--no-user-dirs>

By default, B<lintian> will check I<$HOME> and I</etc> for files
supplied by the user or the local sysadmin (e.g. config files and
profiles).  This default can be disabled (and re-enabled) by using
B<--no-user-dirs> (and B<--user-dirs>, respectively).

These options will I<not> affect the inclusion of LINTIAN_ROOT, which
is always included.

These option can appear multiple times, in which case the last of them
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to appear determines the result.

Note that if the intention is only to disable the user's I<$HOME>,
then unsetting I<$HOME> and I<XDG_*_HOME> may suffice.  Alternatively,
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I</etc> can be "re-added" by using I<--include-dir> (caveat:
I</etc/lintianrc> will be ignored by this).
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If the intention is to avoid (unintentional) side-effects from the
calling user, then this option could be combined with

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If for some reason B<--no-user-dirs> cannot be used, then consider
unsetting I<$HOME> and all the I<$XDG_*> variables (not just the
I<$XDG_*_HOME> ones).

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B<Note>: This option should be the very first if given.

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Developer/Special usage options:

=over 4

=item B<--allow-root>

Override lintian's warning when it is run with superuser privileges.

=item B<--keep-lab>

By default, temporary labs will be removed after lintian is finished.
Specifying this options will leave the lab behind, which might be
useful for debugging purposes.  You can find out where the temporary
lab is located by running lintian with the B<--verbose> option.

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=item B<--packages-from-file> X

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The line is read as the path to a file to process (all whitespace is
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If X is "-", Lintian will read the packages from STDIN.

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=item B<--perf-debug>

Enable performance related debug logging.

The data logged and the format used is subject to change with every

Note that some of the information may also be available (possibly in
a different format) with the B<--debug> option.

=item B<--perf-output> OUTPUT

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Write performance related debug information to the specified file or
file descriptor.  If OUTPUT starts with a '&' or '+', Lintian will
handle OUTPUT specially.  Otherwise, Lintian will open the file
denoted by OUTPUT for writing (truncating if it exists, creating it
if it does not exist).

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If the first character of OUTPUT is a & and the rest of argument is a
number N, then lintian attempts to write it to the file descriptor
with the number N.  Said file descriptor must be open for writing.
E.g I<&2> makes Lintian write the performance logging to STDERR.

If the first character of OUTPUT is a +, Lintian will append to the
file rather than truncating it.  In this case, the file name is OUTPUT
with initial "+" character removed.  E.g. I<+my-file> makes Lintian
append to I<my-file>

If Lintian should write the output to a file starting with a literal
'&' or '+', then simply prefix it with "./" (e.g. "+my-file" becomes

If this option omitted, Lintian will default to using STDOUT.
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=item B<-U> info1,info2,..., B<--unpack-info> info1,info2,...

Collect information info1, info2, etc. even if these are not required
by the checks.  Collections requested by this option are also not
auto-removed (in this run).

This option is mostly useful for debugging or special purpose setups.

It is allowed to give this option more than once.  The following
two lines of arguments are semantically equivalent:

 -U info1 -U info2
 -U info1,info2


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=head1 CHECKS




=head1 FILES

Lintian looks for its configuration file in the following locations:

=over 4

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=item * The argument given to B<--cfg>

=item * I<$LINTIAN_CFG>

=item * I<$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/lintian/lintianrc>

=item * I<$HOME/.lintianrc>

Deprecated in Lintian/2.5.12 and newer (use the XDG based variant

=item * I<XGD_DIR/lintian/lintianrc>

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Where XGD_DIR is a directories listed in I<$XDG_CONFIG_DIRS> (or
I</etc/xdg> if I<$XDG_CONFIG_DIRS> is unset).

=item * I</etc/lintianrc>

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Deprecated in Lintian/2.5.12 and newer (use the XDG based variant
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Lintian uses the following directories:

=over 4

=item I</tmp>

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Lintian defaults to creating a temporary lab directory in I</tmp>.  To
change the directory used, set the TMPDIR environment variable to a
suitable directory.  TMPDIR can be set in the configuration file.
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=item I</usr/share/lintian/checks>

Scripts that check aspects of a package.

=item I</usr/share/lintian/collection>

Scripts that collect information about a package and store it for use
by the check scripts.

=item I</usr/share/lintian/data>

Supporting data used by Lintian checks and for output formatting.

=item I</usr/share/lintian/lib>

Utility scripts used by the other lintian scripts.


For binary packages, Lintian looks for overrides in a file named
I<usr/share/lintian/overrides/E<lt>packageE<gt>> inside the binary
package, where I<E<lt>packageE<gt>> is the name of the binary
package.  For source packages, Lintian looks for overrides in
I<debian/source/lintian-overrides> and then in
I<debian/source.lintian-overrides> if the first file is not found.
The first path is preferred.  See the Lintian User's Manual for the
syntax of overrides.

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The configuration file can be used to specify default values for some
options.  The general format is:

 option = value

All whitespace adjacent to the "=" sign as well as leading and
trailing whitespace is ignored.  However whitespace within the
value is respected, as demonstrated by this example:

 # Parsed as "opt1" with value "val1"
    opt1    =   val1
 # Parsed as "opt2" with value "val2.1  val2.2     val2.3"
 opt2 = val2.1  val2.2     val2.3

Unless otherwise specified, no option may appear more than once.
Lintian will ignore empty lines or lines starting with the

Generally options will be the long form of the command-line option
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without the leading dashes.  There some exceptions (such as
--profile), where Lintian uses the same name as the environment
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Lintian only allows a subset of the options specified in the
configuration file; please refer to the individual options in

In the configuration file, all options listed must have a value, even
if they do not accept a value on command line (e.g. --pedantic).  The
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values "yes", "y", "1", or "true" will enable such an option and "no",
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"n", "0" or "false" will disable it.  Prior to the 2.5.2 release,
these values were case sensitive.

For other options, they generally take the same values as they do on
the command line.  Though some options allow a slightly different
format (e.g. --display-level).  These exceptions are explained for the
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relevant options in L</OPTIONS>.

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Beyond command line options, it is also allowed to specify the
environment variable "TMPDIR" in the configuration file.

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A sample configuration file could look like:

 # Sample configuration file for lintian
 # Set the default profile (--profile)
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 # Set the default TMPDIR for lintian to /var/tmp/lintian
 # - useful if /tmp is tmpfs with "limited" size.
 TMPDIR = /var/tmp/lintian/
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 # Show info (I:) tags by default (--display-info)
 #  NB: this cannot be used with display-level
 # Ignore all overrides (--no-override)
 #  NB: called "override" in the config file
 #      and has inverted value!
 override = no
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 # Automatically determine if color should be used
 color = auto

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=over 4

=item B<0>

No policy violations or major errors detected.
(There may have been warnings, though.)

=item B<1>

Policy violations or major errors detected.

=item B<2>

Lintian run-time error. An error message is sent to stderr.


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When run in an unpacked package dir (with no package selection
arguments), Lintian will use I<debian/changelog> to determine the
source and version of the package.  Lintian will then attempt to find
a matching I<.changes> file for this source and version combination.

Lintian will (in order) search the following directories:

=over 4

=item ..

Used by dpkg-buildpackage(1).

=item ../build-area

Used by svn-buildpackage(1).

=item /var/cache/pbuilder/result

Used by pbuilder(1) and cowbuilder(1).


In each directory, Lintian will attempt to find a I<.changes> file
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using the following values as architecture (in order):
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=over 4

=item I<$DEB_BUILD_ARCH> (or I<dpkg --print-architecture>)

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The environment variable DEB_BUILD_ARCH (if not set, "dpkg
--print-architecture" will be used instead)


The environment variable DEB_HOST_ARCH.
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=item I<dpkg --print-foreign-architectures>

If dpkg(1) appears to support multi-arch, then any architecture listed
by "dpkg --print-foreign-architectures" will be used (in the order
returned by dpkg).

=item I<multi>

Pseudo architecture used by mergechanges(1).

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=item I<all>

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Used when building architecture indep packages only (e.g.
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dpkg-buildpackage -A).

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=item I<source>

Used for "source only" builds (e.g. dpkg-buildpackage -S).


If a I<.changes> file matches any combination above exists, Lintian
will process the first match as if you had passed it per command line.
If no I<.changes> file can be found, Lintian will print a list of attempted
locations on STDERR and exit 0.

780 781 782 783

=over 4

784 785 786 787 788
=item B<$ lintian foo.changes>

Check the changes file itself and any (binary, udeb or source) package
listed in it.

789 790 791 792 793 794 795 796 797 798 799 800 801 802 803 804 805 806 807
=item B<$ lintian foo.deb>

Check binary package foo given by foo.deb.

=item B<$ lintian foo.dsc>

Check source package foo given by foo.dsc.

=item B<$ lintian foo.dsc -L +minor/possible>

Check source package foo given by foo.dsc, including minor/possible

=item B<$ lintian -i foo.changes>

Check the changes file and, if listed, the source and binary package
of the upload. The output will contain detailed information about the
reported tags.

808 809 810 811 812 813
=item B<$ lintian>

Assuming I<debian/changelog> exists, look for a changes file for the
source in the parent dir.  Otherwise, print usage information and

814 815 816 817

=head1 BUGS

818 819 820
Lintian does not have any locking mechanisms yet.  (Running several
Lintian processes on the same laboratory simultaneously is likely to fail
or corrupt the laboratory.)
821 822 823 824 825 826

If you discover any other bugs in lintian, please contact the authors.

=head1 SEE ALSO

L<lintian-info(1)>, Lintian User Manual
828 829 830 831 832 833 834 835 836 837 838 839 840 841 842 843 844 845

Packaging tools: L<debhelper(7)>, L<dh_make(8)>,

=head1 AUTHORS

Niels Thykier <>

Richard Braakman <>

Christian Schwarz <>

Please use the email address <> for
Lintian related comments.