The debian/changelog file contains entries for each version of the package, along with who made the changes, and what those changes are.

You can manage this with the dch command, or with Emacs' change-log-mode.


dch or debchange manages changelog files. Typical invocations:

  • dch --create: Create a new changelog file for the initial release of a package
  • dch -i "Summary of a change you made here": Increment the version of the package, and add a new changelog entry.
  • dch -a "Summary of another change": Add a changelog entry to the current version of the package.

You can also omit the changelog entry on the command line, and dch will open an editor for you.


When you edit a debian/changelog file in Emacs, emacs should automatically enter change-log-mode. Useful commands:

  • C-c C-v to add a new version entry
  • C-c C-a to add a change entry to the current version
  • C-c C-f to finalize the entry

Debathena versioning

When changing the main package source (that is, changing the software installed by the package, not the packaging itself), bump the upstream version number (to 10.0.0 if it was not already that high) Otherwise, just bump the Debian version component (change 0debathena1 to 0debathena2, for instance).

The dadch utility in the debathena locker makes these calculations for you and invokes dch with the correct arguments. When using Emacs, you edit the version number by hand.