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querying available package versions over the net

In order to fix debget to work with package pools
(http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=84368) I need to know
what versions of a package are available, without relying on apt's
cache.  (The main point of the program is to fetch versions of a package
for distributions which aren't in your sources.list.)

I can't simply rely on what's in the package's pool directory, because I
need to know at the least which versions are experimental (to avoid them
unless specifically requested), and ideally what the current version for
each distribution is (so I can fetch based on distribution, instead of
just getting the latest or by version).

Colin Watson suggested using madison, if there were a public interface
to it.  There was talk about making a CGI of this available, but I can't
find any references to that happening.

Another approach is to parse the info from packages.debian.org.  This
is what reportbug does, using its own code (checkversions.py).  Does
anybody know of code to do this from Perl, or the shell?  If not my
current idea is to write a Python wrapper around checkversions.py to
use from the shell (after clearing that with Chris Lawrence).

Does anybody have any other suggestions?

I'll follow debian-devel for responses, but please Cc: me on replies if
possible.  Thanks.

Roderick Schertler

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