Being a Debian distribution, Debian packaging is an important part of ev3dev. We maintain quite a few packages of our own and also modify some upstream packages.

Setting up the Package Development Environment

Whether you are creating a new package or modifying an existing one, there are some tools that you are going to need. We currently use Ubuntu trusty as the development environment. (We will only support trusty, but any thing newer should work - same goes for stretch or newer on Debian). If you are using Windows or Mac you can use VirtualBox or Docker to run trusty in a virtual machine/container.

On your Ubuntu machine, you will need to install some packages. If you haven’t already, you will need to add the ev3dev archive to apt. Note: If you are the kind of person that doesn’t install recommends, make sure you install all of the recommended packages. If you don’t know what “recommends” means, don’t worry about it.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-dev-tools pbuilder-ev3dev

If you have never used git before, you need to configure your name and email. In a terminal, run…

git config --global "Your Name"
git config --global ""

And the same info needs to be put into some environment variables. Paste the following to the end of ~/.bashrc. You will need to start a new terminal or run the same commands in the current terminal for these changes to take effect.

export DEBFULLNAME="Your Name"
export DEBEMAIL=""

And we need to configure quilt as well. Save the following to ~/.quiltrc.


Initializing/Updating pbuilder-ev3dev

You need to initialize a base image for each distribution and architecture that you are building for. These base images also need to be periodically updated, otherwise packages may fail to install during build because they are no longer available (as in the case with security updates).

The same command is used for both creating and updating:

OS=debian DIST=stretch ARCH=armel pbuilder-ev3dev base

Replace the variables as needed. OS can be debian or rasbian. DIST can be any Debian distribution supported by ev3dev (currently only stretch). ARCH is any valid Debian architecture (armel, armhf, etc.). The images are stored in ~/pbuilder-ev3dev.

Building an Existing Package

All ev3dev Debian package source code is hosted at To get the package source code, you need to clone it using git. If you are planning on making changes, you should fork the repository on GitHub first and then clone your repository so that you can push the changes back to GitHub. After you have forked the repository on GitHub, run…

# if you have ssh setup...
git clone
# or if you don't have ssh...
git clone

To build a package, simply run pbuilder-ev3dev from the source code directory.

OS=debian DIST=stretch ARCH=armel pbuilder-ev3dev build

The .deb package(s) will be placed in ~/pbuilder-ev3dev/debian/stretch-armel. You can copy these files to your EV3 and install them.

Modifying a Package

If you haven’t already, you need to clone the package from git as described above.

Then we are going to tell git to ignore changes to the changelog. We are going to change that file, but we don’t want to accidentally commit those changes. In the source code directory that you cloned, run the following…

git update-index --assume-unchanged debian/changelog

Now, we can change this file. Were going to use the dch program to do that.

dch --local yourname

This will add a new entry to the changelog and open it in a text editor for for changes. It will look something like this…

packagename (1.2.3-1yourname1) UNRELEASED; urgency=medium


 -- Your Name <>  Fri, 31 Jul 2016 17:34:04 -0500


You don’t need to make any changes - just close the text editor. Tip: After you install this package somewhere, you should bump the version number by running dch --local yourname again.

Now, you can make any changes you want to the source code. When you are done making changes, you can try them out by building the package as described above with one difference. You need to use the dev-build command so that it will not fail because of your changes.

OS=debian DIST=stretch ARCH=armel pbuilder-ev3dev dev-build

Once you are happy with your changes, commit them and push them back to GitHub. Note: Some packages use quilt for managing patches. If you want to figure out how that works, go for it, but it is not necessary. And even if you do use quilt, you will need to commit the quilt patch via git.

git add -i
git commit
git push

Then send us a pull request on GitHub.

Releasing a Package

Note: This section is for ev3dev package maintainers. It does not apply to building packages for yourself.

  1. Make sure you have thoroughly tested the changes and that the package builds and installs correctly using the methods described above. Be sure to check the +++ lintian output +++ section at the end of the pbuilder-ev3dev output to see if there are any packaging problems.

  2. Ensure any version information (other than debian/changelog) is properly updated to the new version.

  3. Update debian/changelog.

    You can do this automatically:

    1. Delete any debian/changelog entries since the last release (you should have at least one for doing a test build).
    2. Make sure there are not any uncommited changes in git. If there are changes, commit them.
    3. Run gbp dch -R --commit to create a debian/changelog entry. Edit it by hand if necessary.

    Or if you have been maintaining it by hand:

    1. Run dch -r.
    2. Run git commit -a -m "Update changelog for release".
  4. Tag the commit:

    gbp buildpackage --git-tag-only
  5. Build the release packages using pbuilder-ev3dev. If you have run the base command recently, you can omit those lines.

    # build for EV3
    OS=debian ARCH=armel DIST=stretch pbuilder-ev3dev base
    OS=debian ARCH=armel DIST=stretch pbuilder-ev3dev build
    # build for RPi 2/3 and BeagleBone
    OS=debian ARCH=armhf DIST=stretch pbuilder-ev3dev base
    DEBUILD_OPTIONS="--binary-only" OS=debian ARCH=armhf DIST=stretch pbuilder-ev3dev build
    # build for RPi 0/1
    OS=raspbian ARCH=armhf DIST=stretch pbuilder-ev3dev base
    OS=raspbian ARCH=armhf DIST=stretch pbuilder-ev3dev build

    If your package does not have any binary components (like a pure python package), you can do this instead:

    # build for EV3, RPi 2/3 and BeagleBone
    OS=debian ARCH=amd64 DIST=stretch pbuilder-ev3dev base
    OS=debian ARCH=amd64 DIST=stretch pbuilder-ev3dev build
    # build for RPi 0/1
    OS=raspbian ARCH=armhf DIST=stretch pbuilder-ev3dev base
    OS=raspbian ARCH=armhf DIST=stretch pbuilder-ev3dev build
  6. Sign the .changes files in ~/pbuilder-ev3dev/$OS/$DIST-$ARCH/ using debsign.

    debsign ~/pbuilder-ev3dev/debian/stretch-armel/<package>_<version>_armel.changes
    debsign ~/pbuilder-ev3dev/debian/stretch-armhf/<package>_<version>_armhf.changes
    debsign ~/pbuilder-ev3dev/raspbian/stretch-armhf/<package>_<version>_armhf.changes
  7. Upload the new release to the ev3dev archive using dput.

    If you have never uploaded before, you will need to send your SSH public key and your GPG public key to @dlech and save the following as ~/

    login           = ev3dev-upload
    fqdn            =
    method          = sftp
    incoming        = ~/debian
    login           = ev3dev-upload
    fqdn            =
    method          = sftp
    incoming        = ~/raspbian
    login           = ev3dev-upload
    fqdn            =
    method          = sftp
    incoming        = ~/ubuntu

    Then upload:

    dput ev3dev-debian ~/pbuilder-ev3dev/debian/stretch-armel/<package>_<version>_armel.changes
    dput ev3dev-debian ~/pbuilder-ev3dev/debian/stretch-armhf/<package>_<version>_armhf.changes
    dput ev3dev-raspbian ~/pbuilder-ev3dev/raspbian/stretch-armhf/<package>_<version>_armhf.changes

    Please be careful about armhf and ev3dev-debian vs. ev3dev-raspbian! You should receive an email after each upload. If not, let @dlech know about it.

    Note: if dput fails, you may also need to install python-paramiko package:

    apt-get install python-paramiko
  8. Push the git branch and tag to GitHub.

  9. Close any issues on GitHub that are fixed by this release with a message that includes the package name and version number.

  10. Add a news article to the site announcing the release.

Additional Resources