Installing Debian/Ubuntu Packages on Arch Linux

Although Arch Linux has packages for most everything, there is the odd circumstance when one can’t simply install one from even the AUR. I recently stumbled upon an old .deb archive, meant to be installed on Debian, Ubuntu, or a derivative, amongst some of my files. It’s for a game acquired from Humble Bundle, which I’ve had for so long I can no longer seem to find the URL to take me to the download page. While the AUR has various packages designed to install such files, they work with ones formatted in .tar.gz. As luck would have it, I discovered a handy utility alternative which allowed me to install the archive I have.

The solution I found is a project called debtap, which is a tool designed to convert .deb archives into ones that can be installed with pacman, on Arch Linux and derivatives. The process to use it was surprisingly simple. After installing it (yes, it can be found on the AUR), it first needs to be updated as root:

debtap -u

Once this is completed, the archive in question can be converted:

debtap package.deb

The process it uses isn’t simply an archive conversion. It takes the package apart, and breaks it down into different components. It also asks the user for some input to fill in missing details. From there, it can identify needed dependencies and the like, and can even optionally generate a PKGBUILD for the output archive. Upon completion, a new tar.gz archive is outputted, which can then be installed normally:

pacman -U package.tar.gz

I was initially under the impression that some modifications would be needed to the PKGBUILD in order to have the package work correctly, but to my surprise everything about the package was correctly identified, from the name, description, and even version number.


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