Extract .deb contents
DEB files are ar archives, which contain three files:
As you might have already guessed, the needed archived files exist in data.tar.gz. It is also obvious that unpacking this file is a two-step process.
First, extract the aforementioned three files from the DEB file (ar archive):
ar vx mypackage.deb
Then extract the contents of data.tar.gz using tar:
tar -xzvf data.tar.gz
Or, if you just need to get a listing of the files:
tar -tzvf data.tar.gz
Again the -v option in both ar and tar is used in order to get verbose output. It is safe not to use it. For more information, read the man pages: tar(1) and ar(1).
The contents of data.tar.gz can be extracted from the DEB package in a one step process as shown below:
ar p mypackage.deb data.tar.gz | tar zx