NeuroDebian nd* tools

One of the goals of NeuroDebian is to provide recent versions of scientific software on stable Debian (and Ubuntu) deployments. That is why we build (whenever possible) every new package not only for the Debian unstable (the entry point of packages into Debian) but also for Debian testing and stable, and Ubuntu releases. To automate such procedure we prepared few rudimentary wrappers around cowbuilder allowing to build packages in isolated environment. Also we provide a backport-dsc script to ease backporting with optional application of per-release patchsets. In this blog post we would like to introduce you to these tools. They will be of use for anyone working on a package intended to be uploaded to NeuroDebian repository or anyone interested to verify if package could be easily backported. With a single command you will be able to build a given Debian source package across distributions. As a result you will verify that there are no outstanding backport-ability issues or compatibility problems with core components (e.g. supported versions of Python) if your source package excercises test suites at build time.


  • [1-20 min] If you are not running Debian-based distribution, Install NeuroDebian VM; otherwise just add apt sources for NeuroDebian repository.

  • [<1 min] Install the neurodebian-dev package providing nd* tools:

    sudo apt-get install neurodebian-dev
  • [1-5 min] Adjust default configuration (sudo vim /etc/neurodebian/ used by nd commands to

    • point cowbuilderroot variable to some directory under brain account, e.g. ~brain/debs (should be created by you)
    • remove undesired releases (e.g. deprecated karmic) from allnddist and alldist
    • adjust mirror entries to use the Debian mirror and Ubuntu mirror of your choice or may be even point to your approx apt-caching server
  • [10-60 min] Create the COWs for all releases you left in the configuration file:

    sudo nd_adddistall


At this point you should be all set to build packages for all distributions with a single command. E.g.:

sudo nd_build4all blah_1-1.dsc

should take the .dsc file you provide, and build it for main Debian sid and all ND-supported releases of Debian and Ubuntu. nd_build4allnd would build only for the later omitting the vanilla Debian sid. The highlevel summary either builds succeed or failed get reported in summary.log in the same directory, pointing to .build log files for the corresponding architecture/release.

Troubleshooting Failing Build

Provide --hookdir cmdline pbuilder argument to point to a hook which would get kicked in by pbuilder upon failure, e.g.:

sudo apt-get install git
git clone
sudo nd_build4debianmain *.dsc -- --hookdir $PWD/neurodebian/tools/hooks

If you have any comments (typos, improvements, etc) – feel welcome to leave a comment below, or contact us .

The source code for this portal is licensed under the GPL-3 and is available on GitHub.