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Re: Derived distributions and the Maintainer: field

Perhaps it would help if I explained the current mode of operation for
Ubuntu, as compared with other Debian derivatives.  At the end of this
message, I'll restate the questions at hand in this context.

Ubuntu is a distribution based on Debian.

1. Most of the source packages in Ubuntu are inherited from Debian
   unchanged (example: tetex-base).

2. Some source packages in Ubuntu are modified relative to Debian.  These
   are assigned a version number of the form
   "<Debian version number>ubuntu<ubuntu revision number>".  Of those which
   are modified, in most cases the modifications are trivial, such as a
   library transition, Python transition or other dependency change
   (example: python-adns,
   In some cases, the packages are modified more extensively (example:
   several d-i components, such as partman

3. A small number of packages are created specifically for Ubuntu.  These
   are assigned standard version numbers.  Of those, some have already been
   adopted by Debian (example: pmount), some are expected to be adopted by
   Debian at some point in the future (example: xorg), and some are not
   expected to be used in a Debian context (example: ubuntu-artwork).

Currently, only packages in category "3" are assigned a Maintainer field
by Ubuntu.  The question has been raised about what should be done about
packages in categories "1" and "2".

In order to override the Maintainer field in a source package, a new version
of the source package would have to be created.  This would have to be done
each time a new source package (or a new version) is inherited from Debian.
Therefore, my opinion is that changing the Maintainer field on
otherwise-unmodified source packages is too costly for derivatives in

The situation for binary packages is somewhat simpler, at least in the case
of Ubuntu.  In all three cases, Ubuntu builds the source packages in an
Ubuntu build environment to produce the binaries that we actually distribute
to users.  This means that it would be fairly straightforward for Ubuntu to
override the Maintainer field in binary packages (regardless of whether the
source is modified), given a consensus that this is the right thing to do.
Of course, there are many Debian derivatives which do not build most
packages, instead using binary packages provided by Debian, and for them it
would be a burden to do the same.  However, it could be argued that since
they are using bit-for-bit identical binaries, it is reasonable for the
Maintainer field to remain unchanged as well.

Given the above, the relevant questions would seem to be:

  If a binary package is built by a third party from unmodified Debian
  sources, should its Maintainer field be kept the same as the source
  package, or set to the name and address of the third party?

  Should Debian-derived distributions change the Maintainer field in source
  packages which are modified relative to Debian?  If so, should this be
  done in all cases, or only if the modifications are non-trivial?

I am interested in responses to these two questions from the Debian

 - mdz

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