How to Install RPM Packages on Debian 11 Bullseye

The Debian repositories contain thousands of deb packages installed from the Software Center or by using the apt command line. Deb is an installation package format used in all Debian-based distributions, but some aren’t available through these methods; alternative sources such as RPM repositories may contain these.

RPM package format is used by Red Hat and its forks such as Almalinux, CentOS Stream, and Rocky Linux, to name a few. For Debian users, an application called alien allows you to install RPM packages on Debian or convert an RPM package into a Debian (.deb) file.

In the following tutorial, you will learn how to install RPM packages and convert a Debian package into an RPM package on Debian 11 Bullseye desktop or server.

Update Debian

First, update your system to ensure all existing packages are up to date to avoid any conflicts.

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y

Install RPM Support on Debian

By default, the package needed for RPM support named Alien, funnily enough, is on Debian 11’s repository.

To begin the installation, use the following command.

sudo apt install alien -y

Next, confirm the installation and the version installed.

alien --version

Example output:

alien version 8.95.5

Convert/Install RPM to Debian

The first example will be downloading an existing RPM package, converting it to a Debian package, and installing it.

First, download the type of RPM to convert.

Next, use the alien command to convert the package into a .deb package file.

Example only:

sudo alien package.rpm

Example output:

package.deb generated

Note this can take a few minutes, depending on the package size.

The –scripts syntax may be required if the alien command was in case you get the error NOKEY.


sudo alien package.rpm --scripts

Usually, the alien application will relay a message in the terminal if needed.

Example possible error:


Install the package with the dpkg -install command as follows.

sudo apt install ./package.deb

Another method uses the dpkg -i command.

sudo dpkg -i package.deb

Install RPM Directly

Alternatively, a faster method is to install the RPM directly. This can be done using the following command.

sudo alien -i package.rpm

Comments and Conclusion

In the tutorial, you have learned how to convert and install RPM Packages to the Debian package format on Debian 11 Bullseye.

Installing packages should be an absolute last resort using the RPM method, and converting RPM packages to update or replace system packages should never occur. It will likely break or cause instabilities in your Debian system.


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