11 years ago
It is a pain, agreed
With the tar.gz (if it is a source pacakge) you can configure and make, and then use checkinstall - http://www.asic-linux.com.mx/~izto/checkinstall/ - to create a .deb package.
This only works for binary tarballs, of course. If you have source, compile it and tar it up first.
Try the Package Converter - http://code.google.com/p/foxoman/wiki/PackageConverter - that is the GUI for alien. With this application you will be able to convert between deb , rpm ,tgz , lsb, slp, pkg , with all alien options supported.