Installation directory of the execution time of the contents of the debian package

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I have a debian package that I built that contains a tar ball of the files, a control file, and a postinst file. Its built using dpkg-deb and it installs properly using dpkg.

The modification I would like to make is to have the installation directory of the files be determined at runtime based on an environment variable that will be set when dpkg -i is run on the deb file. I echo out the environment variable in the postinst script and I can see that its set properly.

My questions:

1) Is it possible to dynamically determine the installation directory at runtime?

2) If its possible how would I go about this? I have read about the rules file and the mypackage.install files but I don't know if either of these would allow me to accomplish this.

I could hack it by copying the files to the target location in the posinst script but I would prefer to do it the right way if possible.

Thanks in advance!


So this is what I found out about this problem over the past couple of weeks.

With prepackaged binaries you can't build a debian package with a destination directory dynamicall determined at runtime. I believe that this might be possible if installing a package that is built from source where you can set the install directory using configure. But in this case since these are embedded Ubuntu machines they don't have make so I didn't pursue such an option. I did work out a non traditional method (hack) for installing that did work. Since debian packages simply contain a tar ball relative to / simply build your package relative to a directory under /tmp. In the postinst script you can then determine where to copy the files from the archive into a permanent location.

I expected that after rebooting and the automatic deletion of the subdirectory under /tmp that dpkg might not know that the file package existed. This wasn't a problem. When I ran 'dpkg -l myapp' it showed as still installed. Updating the package using dpkg/apt-get also worked without a hitch.

What I did find is that if you attempted to remove the package using 'dpkg -r myapp' that dpkg would try and remove /tmp which wasn't good. However /tmp isn't easily removed so it never succeeded. Plus in our situation we never remove packages but instead simply upgrade them.

I eventually had to abandon the universal package due to code differences in the sources resulting in having to recompile per platform but I would have left it this way and it did work.

I tried using --instdir to change the install directory of the package and it does relocate the files but dpkg fails since the dpkg file can't be found relative to the new instdir. Using --instdir is sort of like a chroot. I also tried --admindir and --root in various combinations to see if I could use the dpkg system relative to / but install relocate the files but they didn't work. I guess rpm has a relocate option that works but not Ubuntu.