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NEWS.Debian files

So we were talking at DebConf about the issue of overuse of debconf
notes for warning the user of things like major changes on upgrades. One
idea that gelled out is adding a NEWS.Debian file to supplement the
README.Debian and changelog.Debian files.

By analogy with the type of package that upstream has a very verbose and
detailed changelog and then a NEWS file that gives a broad overview of
important changes and points to additional information (wmaker for
example), the NEWS.Debian file, which would not be updated with every
release of the package would talk about things that you might be tempted
today to misuse a debconf note for.

Like the changelog.Debian (and unlike README.Debian, which would still
be used to record more general debian-specific info), the NEWS.Debian
would be in a machine parseable format, so tools like apt-listchanges
could work out if a new news item is relevent and display it. A user
might want to see both changelogs and NEWS, or just one.

So like debconf notes that are displayed before the package is
installed, the NEWS items could warn of incompatabilities, serious bugs,
whatever. Unlike debconf notes, a user could turn the NEWS off, and
could revisit it (or read it for the first time) after installation by
reading the file. Debconf notes would remain for their intended purpose:
notes about local installation errors, and so on.

This idea doesn't cover all the cases of ways packages need to be able
to log and display information that shouldn't be in debconf, but it does
have a certian simplicity and rightness to it that appeals to me, for
this particular, very common case. Thoughts?

see shy jo

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