While installing OpenOffice.org 2.0 today I had the opportunity to run across an application named alien. OOo is only available in rpm format and I run a Debian machine. Alien allowed me to install those RPMs on my Debian box.
From the man alien command:
alien is a program that converts between Red Hat rpm, Debian deb, Stampede slp, Slackware tgz, and Solaris pkg file formats. If you want to use a package from another linux distribution than the one you have installed on your system, you can use alien to convert it to your preferred package format and install it. It also supports LSB packages.
To install my OOo rpms on my Debian machine, I opened a terminal window, became root and in in the directory that contained the RPMs I wanted to install, I typed:
alien -i *.rpm
Use the alien man page to check out how you can change packages from one format to another. A very handy utility.