Convert between RPM, Deb and TGZ package formats

June 21, 2005
If you are using a Debian (based) Linux distribution like Ubuntu, then you will not be able to use the rpm command to install software in RPM format because Debian uses its own package management called DPKG.

But there is an experimental software called Alien, that converts between the RPM, Debian DEB, Stampede SLP, and Slackware TGZ file formats.

For example, if you want to install Inkscape which is in a binary RPM format, in Ubuntu (or any Debian based Linux distribution), you can use the following command:

# alien -i inkscape-2.1.3.rpm

This will unpack the RPM package into a directory, create a DEB package and then install it on your system. Of course, you can uninstall the package at a later date by using the relevant DPKG command.

Alien should not be used to replace important system packages, like sysvinit, shared libraries, or other things that are essential for the functioning of your system.


  • Simon

    ooh, ive gotta give this a try. But I cant think of to many packages that aren't already avaliable for Ubuntu...

  • What about Acrobat reader?

  • How about NeroLinux in other formats thatn rpm and deb. I have used the deb package in Ubuntu and want to convert either the rpm or deb to a tgz or just for slackware. I will be trying the Alien converter to get NeroLinux on slackware.

  • CamiloSan

    Yo, Anonymous, a bit off topic but for Acrobat, try Evince instead. It's 2MB compared to Adobe's hundreds and loads 4 times faster.

    apt-get install evince

  • Steve

    Just used alien to install IBM Storage Manager rpms on Ubuntu 7.10. Worked perfectly. Many thanks.

  • And what about those of us who have slackware? I have searched for an installer for Alien to no avail! There has to be a better way to install things!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • @FutureExLinuxuser

    For slackware there is a better way which is to compile alien from source. :-)

    Happy hacking.

  • Don't over-think the Slackware install. You can install anything, in any way you want:

    rpm -i package-name.rpm
    dpkg -i packagename.deb
    run the KPackage gui.

    I prefer to use the conversion script, followed by the Slackware-native installer script.

    rpm2tgz packagename.rpm
    installpkg packagename.tgz

    The only things that won't work are 2.6 kernel modules, which always have to be compiled. Of course, dependencies are up to you, but that's Slackware. Things that have a zillion Gnome dependencies (Kino comes to mind) pretty much require Dropline Gnome, unless you have a spare weekend to pound out ldd commands and hunt down dependencies.