Real World Example: Converting a package with Alien

At my office we have a new printer, a Dell C3765dnf Color Multifunction printer. This was not my choice of printer, but it is what we were given, so I needed to make the most of it. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any suitable ppd drivers in Cups for it. Not only that, but a search of the internet did not lead me to any ppd files either. I tried everything I could think of, from searching for Debian packages containing Dell, to unzipping Mac OS files to look for it. Nothing. The closest thing I could find was an RPM as Dell’s token support for Linux.

Well, at least that is something. I can work with that. I’ve used alien before to convert packages from one distro to another, but it usually doesn’t work if you lack the dependencies. In this case, however, the rpm simply installs the ppd’s which cups uses, so I was pretty sure I wouldn’t have a dependency problem. So here’s what I did:

$ sudo apt-get install alien

$ alien -d Dell-C3765-Color-MFP-1.0-3.noarch.rpm
Must run as root to convert to deb format (or you may use fakeroot).

I left this in so you could see that you needed root permissions to use alien.

$ sudo alien -d Dell-C3765-Color-MFP-1.0-3.noarch.rpm
Warning: Skipping conversion of scripts in package Dell-C3765-Color-MFP: postinst postrm
Warning: Use the –scripts parameter to include the scripts.
dell-c3765-color-mfp_1.0-4_all.deb generated

$ sudo dpkg -i dell-c3765-color-mfp_1.0-4_all.deb
Selecting previously unselected package dell-c3765-color-mfp.
(Reading database … 109097 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack dell-c3765-color-mfp_1.0-4_all.deb …
Unpacking dell-c3765-color-mfp (1.0-4) …
Setting up dell-c3765-color-mfp (1.0-4) …

After that, I loaded up cups in my browser with localhost:631, and added my new printer. The new driver showed up at the top of the Dell list! For once, something easy when working with alien.

Linux – keep it simple.

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