HOWTO create php5-PECL Debian packages

5 April 2012 — Leave a comment


The PHP Extension Community Library (PECL) has many great extensions for php5. Unfortunately, most are not packaged for Debian. Of course it is pretty easy to install it by hand. For example the ‘pecl_http’ extension:

pecl install pecl_http
echo "" > /etc/php5/conf.d/http.ini

For this to work you need some -dev packages to be installed. php5-dev and build-essential are the minimum required.

I have two problems with this method:
1. Too many -dev packages will be installed on production servers. I want to have as less packages installed as possible;
2. The software is not easily installable and upgradable;

I’ve yet another requirement: I need to distribute my package in a local Debian repository so it can be automatically installed. Therefore I need to have the right metadata with my new package. The method I describe here does create all files you need to upload the package to a Debian Repository.

Start to create an empty directory for our new package:

mkdir php-pecl-http_1.7.4-1

Then go into this new directory and download the PECL package you want to package for Debian.

pecl download pecl_http

Using ‘dh-make-pecl’ you can create a Debian source package like this:

dh-make-pecl --only 5 pecl_http-1.7.4.tgz

The next step is fixing a problem with ‘pecl_http’. The generated .so file is called and not You can skip this step when creating other packages.

sed -i 's/PECL_PKG_NAME=pecl-http/PECL_PKG_NAME=http/1' debian/rules
mv debian/pecl-http.ini debian/http.ini
sed -i 's/' debian/http.ini

If you want, you can edit the changelog. For example when you want to customize the version number.

vim debian/changelog

Now it’s time to build the package. Look closely to the output when you get an error. You might need some dependencies like php5-dev and build-essential.

Don’t run this as root, but add ‘-rfakeroot’ as oridinary user.

dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot

You will find your new package one level below:

ls -la ../

drwxr-xr-x 3 remi staff   4096 Apr  5 16:58 .
drwxr-xr-x 7 remi staff   4096 Apr  5 18:23 ..
-rw-r--r-- 1 remi staff   1134 Apr  5 16:08 channel.xml
-rw-r--r-- 1 remi staff 174503 Apr  5 16:08 pecl_http-1.7.4.tgz
-rw-r--r-- 1 remi staff 146352 Apr  5 16:38 php5-pecl-http_1.7.4-1_amd64.deb
drwxr-xr-x 5 remi staff   4096 Apr  5 16:56 php-pecl-http-1.7.4
-rw-r--r-- 1 remi staff   1516 Apr  5 16:38 php-pecl-http_1.7.4-1_amd64.changes
-rw-r--r-- 1 remi staff   4334 Apr  5 16:58 php-pecl-http_1.7.4-1.diff.gz
-rw-r--r-- 1 remi staff    769 Apr  5 16:38 php-pecl-http_1.7.4-1.dsc
-rw-r--r-- 1 remi staff   4332 Apr  5 16:57
lrwxrwxrwx 1 remi staff     19 Apr  5 16:09 php-pecl-http_1.7.4.orig.tar.gz -> pecl_http-1.7.4.tgz

The *.deb *.changes *.diff.gz *.dsc and *.orig.tar.gz files are needed for uploading to a repository. I’m not covering setting up your own Debian Repository. Don’t worry, you can always install the .deb directly like this:

dpkg -i php5-pecl-http_1.7.4-1_amd64.deb

To install from your Debian Repository:

apt-get update
apt-get install php5-pecl-http

In my configuration management (Puppet) I can now ensure this package is installed at all times at all nodes that run php5. Furthermore, I can compile and package on a dedicated compile vm and have as clean as possible production vm’s!

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