debianizing directories?

Posted to debian-user *and* debian-mentors in the hope of getting a good
answer on this.

At my job, we have a number of Debian boxen out in the field. All of these
boxen run a suite of PHP applications. It is thus necessary to distribute
updates to the code in some automated fashion, so that all these boxen are
on the latest release of the code.

We have chosen to do this by maintaining our own Debian repository, and
putting our own packages on that repository. The boxen out in the field run
apt-get update ; apt-get dist-upgrade once a night.

I have been Debianizing my part of the suite by writing Makefiles that
install all the requisite files to the appropriate directory on the
installing machine. This allows me to use dpkg-buildpackage to create the
.debs. I use dupload (using scp) to upload the packages to our repository.
Sometimes, though, using dupload fails - it gives me an error message "scp:
/var/www/apt/incoming/<package name removed>: set times: No such file or
directory". The package still gets imported into the repository, but when I
try and install the package on a machine, it gives me the error "short read
in buffer_copy" on a particular file. The file is definitely in the source
directory - a bit of Googling suggested that might be a problem.

I'm at a loss here. I need a way to automatically distribute a directory
full of files to these boxen in the field. Is dpkg/apt not the way to do

Kit Peters