Importing Sources

Table of Contents
Importing already existing Debian packages
Importing a new upstream version
Converting an existing Git repository
Starting a Debian package from scratch
When upstream uses Git
Branch layout

Importing already existing Debian packages

Importing an already existing Debian package into a Git repository is as easy as:

  gbp import-dsc package_0.1-1.dsc
This will create a new Git repository named after the imported package, put the upstream sources onto the upstream-branch and the Debian patch on the debian-branch. In case of a Debian native package, only the debian-branch is being used. You can specify alternative branch names via the --upstream-branch and --debian-branch options, or via the upstream-branch and debian-branch options in the configuration file.

If you want to be able to exactly recreate the original tarball (orig.tar.gz) from Git, you should also specify the --pristine-tar option. This is recommended.

If you want to import further versions, you can change into your shiny new Git repository and just continue with the same command:

  cd package/
  gbp import-dsc package_0.1-2.dsc
  gbp import-dsc package_0.1-3.dsc
  gbp import-dsc package_0.2-1.dsc

Or you can import all versions at once using gbp import-dscs:

  gbp import-dscs /path/to/history/package_*.dsc
This will create a Git repository if necessary and import all versions sorted by version number.

You can also import all versions of a package known from the service using the --debsnap option of gbp import-dscs:

  gbp import-dscs --debsnap package

Importing a new upstream version

Change into your Git repository (which can be empty), make sure it has all local modifications committed, and run either of:

  gbp import-orig /path/to/package_0.2.orig.tar.gz
  gbp import-orig /path/to/package_0.2.tar.bz2
  gbp import-orig /path/to/package-0.2/
This puts the upstream sources onto the upstream-branch and tags them accordingly (the default tag format is upstream/%(version)s). The result is then merged onto the debian-branch, and a new Debian changelog entry is created. You can again specify different branch names via the --upstream-branch and --debian-branch options.

If you are using debian/watch to keep track of how to retrieve upstream sources, you can also simply use the --uscan option:

  gbp import-orig --uscan

You can also filter out content you don't want imported:

  gbp import-orig --filter='CVS/*' /path/to/package_0.2.orig.tar.gz
The --filter option can be used multiple times for more complex filtering.

If you expect a merge conflict, you can delay the merge to the debian-branch via the --no-merge option and pull in the changes from the upstream-branch later.

If you want to be able to exactly recreate the original tarball (orig.tar.gz) from Git, you should also specify the --pristine-tar option. This is recommended.

To customize the commit message used by gbp import-orig, use the --import-msg option. This string is a standard Python format string, into which the version variable is interpolated. (i.e., use %(version)s in your message to get the imported upstream version).

Converting an existing Git repository

If the Git repository wasn't created with gbp import-dsc, you have to tell gbp buildpackage and friends where to find the upstream sources.

Upstream sources on a branch

If the upstream sources are already on a separate branch, things are pretty simple. You can either rename that branch to the default upstream-branch name upstream with:

  git branch upstream theupstream-branch
  git branch -D theupstream-branch
or you can tell gbp buildpackage the name of the branch to use as upstream-branch:
cat <<EOF > .git/gbp.conf
# this is the upstream-branch:
If you then use gbp import-orig to import new upstream sources, they will from now on end up on theupstream-branch and merged to the debian-branch.

Upstream sources not on a branch

If you don't have an upstream branch but started your repository with only the upstream sources (not the Debian patch), you can simply branch from that point. So use gitk or git-log to locate the commit-id of that commit and create the upstream branch from there, e.g.:

    COMMIT_ID=`git log --pretty=oneline | tail -1 | awk '{ print $1 }'`
    git branch upstream $COMMIT_ID
The important thing here is that the COMMIT_ID specifies a point on the master branch that carried only the upstream sources and not the Debian modifications. The above example assumes that this was the first commit to that repository.


There's currently no easy way to create the upstream-branch if you never had the upstream sources as a single commit. Using gbp import-orig on such repositories might lead to unexpected merge results.

In order to fix this you can prepend the upstream sources as a single commit to your tree using Git's grafts. Afterwards you can simply create a branch as explained above and gbp import-orig will work as expected.

Alternatively, if you are only importing source from original tarballs (for instance when converting from a Subversion repository where the mergeWithUpstream was set for svn-buildpackage), you can create an empty upstream branch with the following commands:

  git checkout --orphan upstream
  git rm -rf .
  git commit --allow-empty -m 'Initial upstream branch.'
  git checkout -f master
With Git versions lower than, the commands are slightly more complicated:
  git symbolic-ref HEAD refs/heads/upstream
  git rm --cached -r .
  git commit --allow-empty -m 'Initial upstream branch.'
  git checkout -f master

Starting a Debian package from scratch

So far, we assumed you already have a Debian package to start with, but what if you want to start a new package? First, create an empty repository:

  mkdir package-0.1
  cd package-0.1
  git init

Then, you import the upstream sources, branch off the upstream-branch branch and add the Debian files (e.g. via dh_make):

  gbp import-orig -u 0.1 ../package-0.1.tar.gz
That's it, you're done. If you want to publish your new repository, you can use gbp create-remote-repo.

When upstream uses Git

If upstream already uses git for packaging, there are several ways to handle packaging. Two of them will be described in a bit detail here:

No upstream tarballs

If upstream doesn't build upstream tarballs, or you don't care about them, the simplest way is to clone upstream's repository and create a separate packaging branch in there.

In order to help gbp buildpackage to find upstream tags, you need to specify the format using the --git-upstream-tag command line option or the the upstream-tag configuration variable.

A common upstream format is to put a v in front of the version number. In this case, the configuration option would look like:

upstream-tag = v%(version)s

version will be replaced with the upstream version number as read from debian/changelog.

If you're using pristine-tar, you can make gbp buildpackage commit the generated tarball back to the pristine-tar branch by using the --git-pristine-tar-commit option. This will make sure others building your package can regenerate the tarball you generated for building the Debian package.

Step by step

To not make any assumptions about gbp's configuration, the following steps have all options given in its long versions on the command line. You can add these to gbp.conf to save lots of typing.

First, we clone the upstream repository. To avoid any ambiguities between the Debian packaging repository and the upstream repository, we name the upstream repository upstream instead of the default origin.

  git clone --no-checkout -o upstream git://
  cd libgbp
  git checkout -b debian/sid v1.0
The above makes sure we have debian/sid for the Debian packaging. We didn't create any upstream/* branches; they're not needed for the packaging and only need to be kept up to date. After adding the Debian packaging, we build the package. This assumes you're using pristine-tar and upstream uses a version number format as described above:
  gbp buildpackage --git-pristine-tar --git-pristine-tar-commit --git-upstream-tag='v%(version)s' --git-debian-branch=debian/sid
When updating to a new upstream version, we simply fetch from upstream and merge in the new tag. Afterwards, we update the changelog and build the package:
  git fetch upstream
  git merge v1.1
  gbp dch --debian-branch=debian/sid --snapshot --auto debian/
  gbp buildpackage --git-ignore-new --git-pristine-tar --git-pristine-tar-commit --git-upstream-tag='v%(version)s'
Note that the above gbp dch call makes sure we only pickup changes in the debian/ directory. Since we told it to build a snapshot changelog entry and we hadn't commit the changelog yet, we need to tell gbp buildpackage that the working directory is unclean via the --git-ignore-new option. Once everything looks good, commit the changelog and build a release version:
  gbp dch --release --auto --git-debian-branch=debian/sid
  git commit -m"Release 1.1-1" debian/changelog
  gbp buildpackage --git-upstream-tag='v%(version)s' --git-debian-branch=debian/sid
If you want to share your repository with others, you can use gbp create-remote-repo and gbp pull as usual.

Upstream tarballs

If you want to track upstream's Git but continue to import the upstream tarballs, e.g. to make sure the tarball uploaded to Debian has the same checksum as upstream's, you can use the --upstream-vcs-tag option when importing new tarballs with gbp import-orig. Assuming you have the upstream source in your repository with a tag v0.0.1, you can use:

  gbp import-orig --upstream-vcs-tag=v0.0.1 foo_0.0.1.orig.tar.gz
to add upstream's tag as additional parent to the merge commit. See #664771 for more details.

Branch layout

By default, gbp uses one branch to keep the Debian packaging called master and a branch to keep the upstream packaging called upstream.

This layout is simple to get started but falls short if one needs to maintain several versions of the package at the same time. Therefore the following layout is recommended:


the Debian packaging for a release jessie, stretch, sid, jessie, jessie-backports, jessie-security or experimental.


the upstream sources for a release matching one of the above


the DFSG-clean upstream sources in case the cleanup is done via a Git merge from upstream to this branch.

In case pristine-tar is being used, there will be a single pristine-tar branch that keeps all binary deltas.