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Launchpad Help > Packaging > PPAs > Building a PPA source package

Building a source package

Ubuntu uses Debian's system of packaging software. To get software into a PPA, you need to build a source package. That includes the source code for the software you want to distribute, along with the instructions for where the application should live in the file system and of any dependencies it has on other software.

Note: If you're already familiar with building .deb source packages for Ubuntu, you can skip straight to the Versioning section.

You can learn how to create .deb packages for Ubuntu by following the Ubuntu packaging guide.

There are a couple of aspects of PPAs that work slightly differently to standard Ubuntu packages: versioning and dependencies. You should also ensure that the email address and GPG key you use with dput are the same as those associated with your Launchpad account.


Ubuntu package names are suffixed by the version number of the package. This allows Ubuntu to distinguish newer packages from older ones and so remain up to date.

If you're creating an alternative version of a package already available in Ubuntu's repositories, you should ensure that:

To do this, add the suffix ppan (where n is your package's revision number). Two examples:

Version numbers must be unique. This has implications if you want to provide packages for multiple Ubuntu series at once:

If your package can be used on different versions of Ubuntu without being recompiled then use the naming scheme already described, and start by uploading your package to the oldest series that you want to support. When you have successfully uploaded your package to your PPA you can copy the existing binaries to the new series; see Copying packages, and use the "Copy existing binaries" option.

If your package does need to be recompiled to support multiple Ubuntu series, then you should add a suffix of a tilde and the series version to the version number. So a package for the Yakkety Yak (16.10) could be named myapp_1.0-1ubuntu3ppa1~ubuntu16.10.1 and for the Xenial Xerus (16.04) myapp_1.0-1ubuntu3ppa1~ubuntu16.04.1. If you need to release an updated package, increment the ppan suffix. It is important to note that specifying the version name here doesn't change the series that you are targetting; this must still be set correctly as described in the Ubuntu packaging guide's section on the changelog file.


You need snapshots when

For this purpose you must create a PPA dedicated for snapshots. You and interested user can add this PPA to their update repositories.

For naming a snapshot you must assure that the final release version will supersede the snapshot version and that any new snapshot version supersedes a previous snapshot version. To do this you cannot name the snapshot version like the final release version. You must use a lower version number. Debian/Ubuntu versions are sorted by their ASCII code. Because a snapshot is always heading to the next version use the pattern <current>+<next> at the place where the version number will change, e.g. when moving from 1.0 to 1.1 use 1.0+1. You cannot use 1.1 directly because the release version number will not supersede the snapshot version number in this case. To guarantee that each snapshot version supersedes a previous snapshot version you should also attach a SNAPSHOT<date> qualifier.

To sum up a complete snapshot version number example would look like:



Launchpad satisfies your package's Build-Depends using:

Note: If you're already familiar with uploading to the Ubuntu primary archive, you should note that PPA builds do not have any build dependency restrictions, unlike a build in the primary Ubuntu archive. If you want to build the same package in the primary Ubuntu archive at a later point you may need to revise the package's component and/or pocket.

Depending on other PPAs

If you want Launchpad to satisfy your package dependencies using one or more other PPAs, follow the Edit PPA dependencies link on your PPA.

Options when building

How you build your package depends on whether you're creating a brand new package or you're creating a derivative of a package that's already in Ubuntu's primary archive.

If you're creating an alternative version of a package that's already in Ubuntu's primary archive, you don't need to upload the .orig.tar.gz file, i.e. the original source.

So, the debuild options you'd use are:

Note: If you get the error clearsign failed: secret key not available when signing the changes file, use an additional option -k[key_id] when calling debuild. Use gpg --list-secret-keys to get the key ID. Look for a line like "sec 12345/12ABCDEF"; the part after the slash is the key ID.

Next steps

Now that you have a source package, you need to upload it!

< Installing software from a PPA

Uploading a source package to a PPA >

Packaging/PPA/BuildingASourcePackage (last edited 2020-10-02 12:55:39 by cjwatson)