I am fairly new to Linux and have noticed things like Debian has deb packages and fedora has rpm. there are probably allot more different packages ,myself I like Debian style but I am wondering if it is possible to download something from fedora or a different distro and unpackage and install the software to any distro or is there sometype of software that I would need to be able to do this?

asked 13 Apr '10, 17:01

Shadowmeph's gravatar image

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edited 14 May '10, 23:00

tallship's gravatar image


Please accept an answer so the question/answer can be finished. Or provide more details so we can help.

(20 Apr '11, 13:57) rfelsburg ♦

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alien is a script that converts between the Red Hat .rpm, Debian .deb, Stampede .slp, and Slackware .tgz file formats (it also handles the Solaris .pkg format). You can get more information about alien here: http://www.linuxquestions.org/linux/articles/Jeremys_Magazine_Articles/Alien_Packages_and_Linux_Mirrors



answered 13 Apr '10, 17:05

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jeremy ♦♦
accept rate: 37%

edited 18 Apr '10, 17:02

--jeremy thank you for your reply and the link. I will check this out :) oh and by the way I really like this site:)

(13 Apr '10, 17:34) Shadowmeph

Thanks Shadowmeph!


(13 Apr '10, 18:17) jeremy ♦♦

Thank you for the link, it is very interesting.

(14 Apr '10, 00:51) george

dpkg is NOT Debian's packages extensions, it's the offline isntaller of .deb packages. ;)

(18 Apr '10, 15:59) jdackle

You're correct jdackle - post updated. Thanks.


(18 Apr '10, 17:03) jeremy ♦♦

This is currently viable via compiling the source. But I understand that you are not looking for that answer. Anyway there are several initiatives currently on progress. One is alien script as told in above. Again you get http://meego.com/ which is trying to achieve the exact thing you want. But its still in its womb. Again you get PackageKIT provided by Fedora to show up a single environment in every distro.

But fairly only Meego is trying to do the exact thing that you have asked for. they are trying to incorporate rpm and deb in to a single Meebo OS. even though its still in research phase.


answered 14 Apr '10, 04:06

Derulz's gravatar image

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I think that if you want to install an rpm package in debian/ubuntu system right? There is a package called `alien' in debian based system (i don't know if its available for other distros).Alien is a program that converts between the rpm, dpkg, stampede slp, and slackware tgz file formats. Hope this solves your problem.


answered 14 Apr '10, 04:26

Salman%20K.H's gravatar image

Salman K.H
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ok, alien is certainly good for when you really need that X package in your debian distro and you can only find an rpm for it, BUT you should not use it on a regular basis. Or I least that'what I understand. Alien, AFAIK, will just translate a package format in something understandable to our packager. But it will not and can not change packager directive or path. If debian is supposed to install this particular stuff in /usr/lib and fedora in /lib, it will go in the wring place.different distro have different rules for where they put things and you might mess up some of these rules when using alien. just a word of caution....


answered 14 Apr '10, 05:30

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rpm2tar is a way which gentoo uses to install openoffice which is not distributed as binary in tarballs for some reason. Good for manual installation of RPMs.

deb2targz is kind of similar tool for DEBs.


answered 14 Apr '10, 12:11

Web31337's gravatar image

accept rate: 11%

I've used Alien with mixed results. You know there are so many packages for the 'mainline' systems I use that I rarely need it. Also, compiling from source is a very good way to install software. It has gotten easier in recent years as well.


answered 17 Apr '10, 17:57

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A package will contain a list of dependencies, except in the rare case where a program has none. This can create problems even when using the same format on two different systems.

For example, I once had an rpm that wouldn't install on Fedora because it needed "python-base". I actually had all the support it needed: the problem was the rpm had been assembled on a Mandriva distribution which named the Python support package differently to Fedora. I installed it by telling the package manager to ignore dependencies, but that's a risky thing to do. Obviously, the same problem could occur if someone converted that rpm package to a deb one and tried to install on Ubuntu.

Until the unlikely day that everyone names things identically, the safest course is to stick to installing from source if it's not in your own distro's repository.


answered 21 Apr '10, 17:05

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Usually, no. Most binary packages you encounter are built and linked to specific libraries built on a specific distribution. While often using tools like alien will allow it to be installed, the problem is that the binary is still linked to a specific version of a library. And can also even be relying on some patches that this "universal" distribution wouldn't have.

But, this is a non-issue for one very big reason:

Linux is a POSIX system. POSIX is an open standard for operating systems emphasizing SOURCE compatibility. If you don't mind building packages yourself you'll find it's pretty easy to install software across even UNRELATED operating systems provided you build from source

Keep in mind versions are still relevant, as some programs expect specific versions of libraries to builf (ITt's USUALLY not a problem and only really older programs or programs built off of prototypes are an issue.)


answered 03 May '10, 17:17

Yaro%20Kasear's gravatar image

Yaro Kasear
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word of caution / advice if you decide to go down the 'install from source' route.

DEPENDENCIES (sorry don't mean to shout).

You should be able to determine what all the dependencies for any package are by checking the specific package web site / home page.

Be sure to get all the required dependencies installed (these will most likely be available for all the different distro's from the specified repositories).

I must admit that I have installed more and more stuff from source, and it isn't really as scary as it might seem. The only really important thing to be certain of is that when you do the install make a note of any error messages, as this will point you to the missing dependencies that you may need (or need linking in a certain manner) so as to use your prefered package.



answered 03 May '10, 19:15

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rpm2tgz is what Slackware users can take advantage of, but with any conversion such as this it can be problematic.

Slackware also supports RPMs directly, but again, depending upon the package, YMMV.

As a case in point for the use of packages from one distro to another, let's talk Google.

There are two browsers by Google - Chrome, and Chromium. Each is very similar, and the main difference that a user is going to notice is that one logo is in color (Chrome) and the other, Chromium, is in grascale (Black and White).

Chromium is in use for most distros, while efforts were made to port the superior, or at least more advanced, features of Chrome to 'some' Linux distros.

If all else fails you can simply download Chromium and install it for any distro, but Debian, for one, has a Chrome Package.

Since Slackware is one of the most user-based supported distributions out there with support, customization, porting and reporting left up to the user community itself to deal with, it is often overlooked by commercial vendors (and as many of us slackers would say, much to our preference and satisfaction), who focus instead on distros like RH and OpenSuSe.

In the case of Chrome on Slackware, this is again a good thing. Why? because Chrome, not Chromium is avalable as a .deb package, and that .deb was retooled to create a .SlackBuild for Slackware, yielding a stable installation of Google Chrome for Slackware, when other prominient distros are stuck with merely Chromium.

Yes, you can retool packages for other distros, and No, you can't, or sometimes it's an YMMV sort of issue.

The bottom line is that if the source compiles on Linux, you can create a package, or compile/install from source, and many times you can use a third party util like Alien or SlackBuilds or rpm2tgz or rmp itself to install/tweak the package on a distro the package wasn't specifically prepared for.

The best thing, of course, (usually), is to get the source and dpendencies, and create a well tested package for your particular distro (often, even when one already exists), and then make it available for others to easily install.

Not only will that bring you kudos from others, (and you're already reaping the karmic benefits from the fact that others have done this for you), but it will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Sometimes, in an interview for a contract I'm looking into accepting, the subject comes up and when they hear that I make my own packages for various reasons here and there, they can't wait to hire me because to many, it's some kind of juju black magic - it isn't, it's simply attention to detail, but in this point and click world where so many buffoons think they can manage a network or enterprise without adhering to the rule of RTFM, it does tend to indicate that you're a competent admin who can be trusted with safeguarding their corporate data.

Oh, and even if a package is native to your own distro, don't just d/l and install it. Look at it, make sure it's going to go where you want it to and that the default configs are those that you are comfortable with. Believe it or not, you CAN actually blow up things by just installing something and blindly assuming that it won't mess something else up that is installed and mission critical.

Hope that helps!

Kindest regards,




answered 14 May '10, 22:46

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Asked: 13 Apr '10, 17:01

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Last updated: 20 Apr '11, 13:57

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