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dpkg-shlibsdep can't 'chown'

When trying to build a package today, I get the following error:

  dpkg-shlibdeps debian/tmp/sbin/* debian/tmp/usr/sbin/*
  dpkg-shlibdeps: failure: chown of `debian/substvars.new': No such file or directory
  make: *** [binary] Error 2

This quite baffles me since this ran (unchanged) last night without any
problems.  The only package that changed on my system was sysvinit.

I traced it with perl and found the following:

  172:        chown(@fowner, "$varlistfile.new") ||
  173:            syserr("chown of \`$varlistfile.new'");
    DB<2> print @fowner
  main::((eval 3):2):     print @fowner;

    DB<4> print $fowner[0]
  main::((eval 7):2):     print $fowner[0];

    DB<6> print scalar @fowner
  main::((eval 11):2):    print scalar @fowner;

Anybody have any ideas?
                                 ( bcwhite@verisim.com )
if you have a 50% chance of guessing right,you will guess wrong 75% of the time

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