Provided by: binfmt-support_2.1.8-2_amd64 bug


     update-binfmts — maintain registry of executable binary formats


     update-binfmts [options] --install name path spec
     update-binfmts [options] --remove name path
     update-binfmts [options] --import [name]
     update-binfmts [options] --display [name]
     update-binfmts [options] --enable [name]
     update-binfmts [options] --disable [name]
     update-binfmts [options] --find [path]


     Versions 2.1.43 and later of the Linux kernel have contained the binfmt_misc module.  This
     enables a system administrator to register interpreters for various binary formats based on
     a magic number or their file extension, and cause the appropriate interpreter to be invoked
     whenever a matching file is executed.  Think of it as a more flexible version of the #!
     executable interpreter mechanism, or as something which can behave a little like
     "associations" in certain other operating systems (though in GNU/Linux the tendency is to
     keep this sort of thing somewhere else, like your file manager).  update-binfmts manages a
     persistent database of these interpreters.

     When each package providing a registered interpreter is installed, changed, or removed,
     update-binfmts is called to update information about that interpreter.  update-binfmts is
     usually called from the postinst or prerm scripts in Debian packages.


     Exactly one action must be specified; this may be accompanied by any one of the common

     --package package-name
           Specifies the name of the current package, to be used by package post-installation and
           pre-removal scripts.  System administrators installing binary formats for local use
           should probably ignore this option.

           When installing new formats, the --import action should be used instead.

     --admindir directory
           Specifies the administrative directory, when this is to be different from the default
           of /var/lib/binfmts.

     --importdir directory
           Specifies the directory from which packaged binary formats are imported, when this is
           to be different from the default of /usr/share/binfmts.

           Don't do anything, just demonstrate what would be done.

           Display some usage information.

           Display version information.

     --install name path spec
           Install a binary format identified by name with interpreter path into the database.
           After registration, this format will be used when the kernel tries to execute a file
           matching spec (see BINARY FORMAT SPECIFICATIONS below).

           --install will attempt to enable this binary format in the kernel as well as adding it
           to its own database; see --enable below.

           You cannot install a format with any of the names ".", "..", "register", or "status",
           as these are used by the filesystem or the binfmt_misc module.

     --remove name path
           Remove the binary format identified by name with interpreter path from the database.
           This will also attempt to disable the binary format in the kernel; see --disable

     --import [name]
           Import a packaged format file called name, or import all format files currently on the
           system if no name is given.  If name is not a full path, it is assumed to be a file in
           the import directory (/usr/share/binfmts by default).  See FORMAT FILES below for the
           required contents of these files.

           For packages, this is preferable to using the --install option, as a format file can
           be installed without update-binfmts needing to be available.

     --display [name]
           Display any information held in the database about the binary format identifier name,
           or about all known binary formats if no name is given.  Also show whether displayed
           binary formats are enabled or disabled.

     --enable [name]
           Enable binary format name, or all known binary formats if no name is given, in the
           kernel, thus enabling direct execution of matching files.  You must have binfmt_misc
           compiled into the kernel or loaded as a module for this to work.

     --disable [name]
           Disable binary format name, or all known binary formats if no name is given, in the
           kernel, thus disabling direct execution of matching files.  You must have binfmt_misc
           compiled into the kernel or loaded as a module for this to work.

     --find [path]
           Print the list of interpreters that will be tried in sequence when attempting to
           execute path, one per line.  The first one for which execvp(3) succeeds will be used.

           Note that if multiple formats match an executable, then the order is in general not
           defined, and may not be preserved between update-binfmts operations, so you should
           generally try to ensure that this option prints at most one line for any given path.
           The exception to this is that any format with a userspace detector will be run before
           any format without a userspace detector.

     --magic byte-sequence
           This matches all files with the magic number byte-sequence.  Hexadecimal escapes may
           be included in the byte-sequence by preceding them with \x, for example ‘\x0a’ for a
           linefeed.  Remember to protect such escapes with quotes or an additional backslash to
           prevent their interpretation by the shell.

           Also see --offset and --mask.

     --offset offset
           This is the offset of the magic/mask in the file, counted in bytes.  The default is 0.
           Only valid with --magic.

     --mask byte-sequence
           This mask will be logically-ANDed with the string to be checked against the magic
           number given with --magic.  The default is all 0xff, i.e. no effect.  Only valid with

     --extension extension
           This matches all files whose names end in ".extension".  Hexadecimal escapes are not
           recognized here.  Extension matching is case-sensitive.

     --detector path
           If this option is used, a userspace detector program will be used to check whether the
           file is suitable for this interpreter.  This may be used when the binary format is
           more complex than can be handled by the kernel's format specifications alone.  The
           program should return an exit code of zero if the file is appropriate and non-zero

     --credentials yes, --credentials no
           Whether to keep the credentials of the original binary to run the interpreter; this is
           typically useful to run setuid binaries, but has security implications.

     --preserve yes, --preserve no
           Whether to preserve the original argv[0] when running the interpreter, rather than
           overwriting it with the full path to the binary.

     --fix-binary yes, --fix-binary no
           Whether to open the interpreter binary immediately and always use the opened image.
           This allows the interpreter from the host to be used regardless of usage in chroots or
           different mount namespaces.  The default behaviour is no, meaning that the kernel
           should open the interpreter binary lazily when needed.  This option requires Linux 4.8
           or newer.

     A format file is a sequence of options, one per line, corresponding roughly to the options
     given to an --install command.  Each option consists of a key, followed by whitespace,
     followed by a value.

     The package option should be set to the current package.  The interpreter option should be
     set to the path to the interpreter that will handle this binary format.  The magic, offset,
     mask, extension, detector, credentials, preserve, and fix-binary options correspond to the
     command-line options of the same names.


     0     The requested action was successfully performed.

     2     Problems were encountered whilst parsing the command line or performing the action.


     This format file can be used with an interpreter capable of handling Java .class files:

         package javawrapper
         interpreter /usr/bin/javawrapper
         magic \xca\xfe\xba\xbe

     This corresponds roughly to the following command:

         update-binfmts --package javawrapper \
             --install javawrapper /usr/bin/javawrapper \
             --magic '\xca\xfe\xba\xbe'


     If you're not careful, you can break your system with update-binfmts.  An easy way to do
     this is to register an ELF binary as a handler for ELF, which will almost certainly cause
     your system to hang immediately; even if it doesn't, you won't be able to run update-binfmts
     to fix it.  In the future update-binfmts may have some checks to prevent this sort of thing
     happening accidentally, though of course you can still manipulate the binfmt_misc kernel
     module directly.


     update-binfmts is copyright (C) 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009,
     2010, 2011 Colin Watson <>.  See the GNU General Public License version 3
     or later for copying conditions.

     You can find the GNU GPL v3 in /usr/share/common-licenses/GPL-3 on any modern Debian system.

     Richard Guenther wrote the binfmt_misc kernel module.


     Ian Jackson wrote update-alternatives and dpkg-divert, from which this program borrows