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What are Preinst, Postinst, Prerm, and Postrm Script?

Collectively, preinst, postinst, prerm, and postrm files are all executable scripts which Debian automatically runs before or after package installation. Along with a file named control, all of these files are part of the “control” section of a Debian archive file.

The individual files are:

preinst

This script executes before the package is unpacked from its Debian archive (“.deb”) file. Many preinst scripts stop services for packages which are being upgraded, pausing them until the installation or upgrade is complete (and following the successful execution of the postinst script).

postinst

This script typically completes any required configuration of the package foo once foo has been unpacked from its Debian archive (“.deb”) file. Often, postinst scripts ask the user for input, and/or warn the user that if they accept the default values, they should remember to come back and re-configure the package, as the situation warrants. Many postinst scripts then execute any commands necessary to start or restart services once a new package has been successfully installed or upgraded.

prerm

This script typically stops any daemons associated with a package. It is executed before the removal of files associated with the package.

postrm

This script typically modifies links or other files associated with foo, and/or removes files created by the package. (Also see What is a Virtual Package?, Section 6.8.)

Currently, all of the control files can be found in the directory /var/lib/dpkg/info. The files relevant to package foo begin with the name foo and have file extensions of preinst, postinst, prerm, and postrm as appropriate.

The file foo.list, contained within that same directory, lists all of the files that were installed with the package foo. *Note: the location of these files is a dpkg internal – you should not rely on it.

 

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