What Is a DEB File?

How to open and convert DEB files

What to Know

  • A DEB file is a Debian Software Package file.
  • Install one via dpkg -i /path/to/file.deb, or unpack it with 7-Zip.
  • Convert to TAR, ZIP, etc., with FileZigZag.

This article explains what a DEB file is, how to open one on your computer, and how to convert one to a different format like RPM or IPA.

What Is a DEB File?

A file with the DEB file extension is a Debian Software Package file. They're used mainly in Unix-based operating systems, including Ubuntu and iOS.

Every DEB file consists of two TAR archives that make up the executable files, documentation, and libraries. It may or may not be compressed using GZIP, BZIP2, LZMA, or XZ.

Similar to this format are micro deb files (.UDEB) that include some but not all the same information as a regular DEB file.

Screenshot of several empty DEB files on Ubuntu
DEB Files (Ubuntu).

DEB is also short for various technology terms, like debugging and data extent block, but they aren't related to the file format described on this page.

How to Open a DEB File

Open DEB files with any popular compression/decompression program, the free 7-Zip tool being one example. Any of these types of programs will decompress (extract) the contents of the file, and some create DEB compressed files.

While some of these file zip/unzip tools will work on Linux machines, too, they don't actually install the package like you'd expect them to—they just extract the contents of the archive.

To install a DEB file, use the free gdebi tool, which supports right-clicking the file and opening it from the context menu.

While not as easy as using gdebi, you can also install one with dpkg using this command, substituting /path/to/file.deb with the path to your own .DEB file:

dpkg -i /path/to/file.deb

Several DEB files can be installed using this command:

dpkg -i -R /path/to/folder/with/deb/files/

Uninstall DEB files with this command:

apt-get remove /path/to/file.deb

How to Convert a DEB File

A free file converter like FileZigZag can convert a DEB file to file formats like TGZ, BZ2, BZIP2, 7Z, GZIP, TAR, TBZ, ZIP, and others.

Convert one to RPM using this alien command:

apt-get update
apt-get install alien
alien -r file.deb

You can find lots of tutorials online for converting a DEB file to an IPA file, like this one at JailbreakErra. Another shows how to install the home theater software Kodi on iOS, but you can tweak the tutorial for installing a custom DEB file on an iPhone or another iOS device.

Install a DEB file on a jailbroken iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch using iFunbox.

Still Can't Open It?

If you can't get your file to open, you might be confusing another file format for one that uses the DEB file extension. When this happens, the programs mentioned above won't be able to open your file.

For example, a DEM file might look related to a DEB file because their file extensions are similar, but those are most likely either Video Game Demo files or Digital Elevation Model files.

EDB is similar, but instead of having anything to do with a software package, that file extension is reserved for database files, such as Exchange Information Store and Windows Search Index database files, both used by Microsoft Windows software.

  • Can I install a DEB file on an iPhone that's not jailbroken?

    No. As a workaround, convert the DEB file to an iOS-compatible format if possible.

  • How do I convert a ZIP file to DEB?

    To convert ZIP files, use an online converter tool such as Converter365. Go to Converter365, select Add Files, and upload the ZIP file to start the conversion process. Sites like Converter365 can also convert DEB files to various formats and other formats to DEB files.

  • Can I install a DEB file on Android?

    No. However, you can install Linux on an Android device, then use Linux to install the DEB file.

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