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Easily build and test your Debian packaging on & GitHub

What is this? is a hosted service for projects that host their Debian packaging on GitHub to use the Travis CI continuous integration platform to test builds on every update. Amongst many other advantages, this helps catch issues as early as possible and avoids having to run long package builds on one's own computers.

Whilst possible without, using this service not only avoids unwieldy duplication of configuration, it works around backwards-compatibility issues in supporting tools in older Debian releases. additionally supports running autopkgtest tests and disabling network access during builds.

The paid-for platform is also supported.

Quick setup

  1. Enable builds for your package on
  2. Ensure "Only build if .travis.yml is present" is enabled:
  3. Add .travis.yml to your git-buildpackage branches:
    $ wget -O.travis.yml
    $ git add .travis.yml
    $ git commit -m "Add .travis.yml from <>"
  4. If there already exists a .travis.yml file, simply override it; ensuring that subsequent upstream merges retain the version. Additionally for "3.0 (quilt)" packages, you will need to:
    $ echo 'extend-diff-ignore = "^\.travis\.yml$"' >> debian/source/options
    $ git add debian/source/options
    $ git commit -m "Add /.travis.yml to extend-diff-ignore in debian/source/options."
  5. You should now be able to build your package:

How it works

At it's core is a hosted POSIX shell script that is executed within the Travis CI test environment.

First, detects which release of Debian the branch is targeting based on the current branch name. The experimental suite and all varieties of backports are intelligently detected. A debian/changelog is created if one does not exist.

A throwaway Docker image is then created containing all the required build-dependencies. The package is then built in this isolated environment with no access to the internet.

Lintian is run on the result and the binary packages are saved to the parent directory.


Configuration is performed by setting environment variables. You can do this within the Travis CI web interface itself.

Please note that the API is currently unstable.

This variable is passed without modification to the build process and modifies the build process as outlined in Debian Policy.
This variable is passed without modification to the build process and modifies the build process as described in the Build Profile spec.
Which distribution of Debian the package should be built in. By default, this is automatically detected from the branch name.
Which Debian derivative to use (eg. debian or ubuntu). This will use the corresponding TRAVIS_DEBIAN_DERIVATIVE:DISTRIBUTION Docker container as a base. Some derivatives are automatically derived from TRAVIS_DEBIAN_DISTRIBUTION, and defaults values for TRAVIS_DEBIAN_MIRROR and TRAVIS_DEBIAN_COMPONENTS are then set. You can still override them as needed. Note that not all features like backports, autopkgtests or security updates may be work, depending on your derivative.
Additional archive components used for building and testing this package. The components are set in sources.list and should be space-separated. By default, this is set to main.
The corresponding backports repositories will be enabled in /etc/apt/sources.list. If TRAVIS_DEBIAN_DISTRIBUTION is not set, the value is automatically detected. Multiple repositories can be specified delimited by spaces, eg. "stretch-backports stretch-backports-sloppy".
When true, the corresponding repository for security updates will be enabled in /etc/apt/sources.list. If not set, updates are automatically enabled for the distributions that have security support.
When true, Debian's experimental repository will be enabled. If TRAVIS_DEBIAN_DISTRIBUTION is not set, the value is automatically detected.
Which Debian mirror to use. By default, is used.
If the package has some dependencies not found in Debian, you can add your own repository to the build using this variable. The format is the same as /etc/apt/sources.list, for example " stretch main". Note that the double-quotes are required to ensure Travis correctly exports the variable.
Location of the public key of the extra repository defined in TRAVIS_DEBIAN_EXTRA_REPOSITORY, so that its packages can be authenticated.
When true, install and run the Lintian package checker after the build. By default, Lintian is run.
Which directory to store the results of the build. By default, the packages are stored in the parent directory.
Which directory to build under. By default, /tmp/buildd is used.
By default, the network is disabled during the package build process. If your build really needs internet access, set this value to true.
When true, run autopkgtest tests after a successful build. By default, tests are attempted if a debian/tests/control file exists or debian/control has the Testsuite: autopkgtest header.
When true, increment the version number of the package by appending a new entry to debian/changelog to reflect the Travis CI build number. By default, the package version is left unchanged.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Q: But wget | sh - is insecure!
A: Of course, and you should never run such a command on your own machine. However, not only does Travis-CI build within throwaway containers that you are not responsible for, cannot trust, and generally don't care about, there is zero expectation that the resulting .deb files are to be used or installed anywhere.


Copyright © 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 Chris Lamb <>

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.