Debian Packaging for Open vSwitch

This document describes how to build Debian packages for Open vSwitch. To install Open vSwitch on Debian without building Debian packages, refer to Open vSwitch on Linux, FreeBSD and NetBSD instead.


These instructions should also work on Ubuntu and other Debian derivative distributions.

Before You Begin

Before you begin, consider whether you really need to build packages yourself. Debian “wheezy” and “sid”, as well as recent versions of Ubuntu, contain pre-built Debian packages for Open vSwitch. It is easier to install these than to build your own. To use packages from your distribution, skip ahead to “Installing .deb Packages”, below.

Building Open vSwitch Debian packages

You may build from an Open vSwitch distribution tarball or from an Open vSwitch Git tree with these instructions.

You do not need to be the superuser to build the Debian packages.

  1. Install the “build-essential” and “fakeroot” packages. For example:

    $ apt-get install build-essential fakeroot
  2. Obtain and unpack an Open vSwitch source distribution and cd into its top level directory.

  3. Install the build dependencies listed under “Build-Depends:” near the top of debian/control. You can install these any way you like, e.g. with apt-get install.

Check your work by running dpkg-checkbuilddeps in the top level of your ovs directory. If you’ve installed all the dependencies properly, dpkg-checkbuilddeps will exit without printing anything. If you forgot to install some dependencies, it will tell you which ones.

  1. Build the package:

    $ fakeroot debian/rules binary

    This will do a serial build that runs the unit tests. This will take approximately 8 to 10 minutes. If you prefer, you can run a faster parallel build:

    $ DEB_BUILD_OPTIONS='parallel=8' fakeroot debian/rules binary

    If you are in a big hurry, you can even skip the unit tests:

    $ DEB_BUILD_OPTIONS='parallel=8 nocheck' fakeroot debian/rules binary


There are a few pitfalls in the Debian packaging building system so that, occasionally, you may find that in a tree that you have using for a while, the build command above exits immediately without actually building anything. To fix the problem, run:

$ fakeroot debian/rules clean

or start over from a fresh copy of the source tree.

  1. The generated .deb files will be in the parent directory of the Open vSwitch source distribution.

Installing .deb Packages

These instructions apply to installing from Debian packages that you built yourself, as described in the previous section, or from packages provided by Debian or a Debian derivative distribution such as Ubuntu. In the former case, use a command such as dpkg -i to install the .deb files that you build, and in the latter case use a program such as apt-get or aptitude to download and install the provided packages.


You must be superuser to install Debian packages.

  1. Start by installing an Open vSwitch kernel module. See debian/openvswitch-switch.README.Debian for the available options.
  2. Install the openvswitch-switch and openvswitch-common packages. These packages include the core userspace components of the switch.

Open vSwitch .deb packages not mentioned above are rarely useful. Refer to their individual package descriptions to find out whether any of them are useful to you.

Reporting Bugs

Report problems to