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Thanks! @gvdhoom I also found the same link about an hour after you posted the comment. To answer my own question:

  • The -dbgsym Debian packages are automatically generated by the Debian packaging toolchain debhelper(7), or, dh_strip(1), specifically. (See dh_strip --automatic-dbgsym: "The default is to create debug symbol packages.") The created debug symbols are those .debug files.

  • So, no, catkin_make is not involved here, as @gvdhoom pointed out.

However, debhelper(7) generates the debug symbols into .ddeb packages which are not supported by reprepro. The GitHub issue discusses several possible approaches to publish the .ddeb files into reprepro. Note that at the very end of the thread, the PR is mentioned as the final resolution of the issue.