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Status of 'sarge' for the amd64 architecture

As a preparation for the amd64 porters irc meeting tomorrow, 
I tried to build the complete Debian sarge archive for the 
amd64 architecture from the unpatched Debian sarge sources.

It took about a week to build all 8800+ source packages on a standard
single processor EM64T-P4 box (Every package was built in a newly 
created clean chroot environment. By relaxing this requirement, the 
build time for the archive could probably be reduced to less than 
four days.)

The result was very encouraging. Almost all packages build now on 
amd64 without problems using the pristine Debian sarge sources.

There are very few remaining cases where a patch has been submitted to 
the BTS a long time ago and for some reason that patch has not yet been 
applied. These cases could either be solved by a porting NMU or by 
just dropping that package from the amd64 version of sarge.

For some reason, the amd64 architecture has not been added to the 
official Debian archive. There is a plan to change this when sarge is 
released, but as I understand it, there is no plan to provide 
amd64 binaries for sarge in the official Debian archive.

This means that Debian sarge will be released with source packages
that can be used to build a complete and fully usable Debian sarge 
distribution for the amd64 architecture, but there will be no binaries 
available in the main Debian archive.

This is not necessarily as bad as it may look at a first glance. 

First of all, everybody can build its own Debian amd64 sarge archive 
from the official Debian sarge sources. It will take only a 
few days to build the complete archive on cheap commodity hardware.
This archive build process, including later updates, can easily be 
automated by a small script.

To build packages from sources instead of downloading binary packages
from a Debian archive may be a good idea from a security point 
of view. For critical applications it seems to be problematic to trust
a binary archive which depends on the integrity of the machines of 1000
Debian developers.

But of course, there _is_ a binary Debian amd64 sarge archive.
The debian-pure64 amd64 archive on alioth is maintained by members 
of the amd64 porting team. It tracks the current Debian 
'unstable' and 'testing' distributions.

In the current situation, the amd64 porting team is responsible for 
providing and maintaining the amd64 binary archive and the amd64 
buildd infrastructure, while the sources are taken from the 
normal Debian source archive.

I consider this a good way to split up responsibilities. 
This way of handling things could serve as a good example of
how other ports may be organized after sarge is released.

As a conclusion, I think that it may still be possible to release
the amd64 port with sarge. Nothing in the current setup has to be 
changed for that. It is just a matter of recognizing the current 
state of affairs officially. 

It will only be necessary to describe the current situation 
in the official release documents and include pointers 
to the separate amd64 archive, which will be provided 
by the amd64 porting team anyway.

Andreas Jochens

P.S.: The above statements represent my personal view only.
Other members of the amd64 porting team may view things differently,
of course.

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