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Debian Configuration Packaging System

Anders Kaseorg and I created a system of CDBS modules (which we've tentatively packaged as the config-package-dev package) for creating Debian configuration packages. By configuration packages, we mean packages that configure an existing Debian system by applying dpkg-divert to configuration files. Our configuration package system makes the process of creating configuration packages efficient.

Our system is targeted at site defaults (i.e. configuration for a university or a company), though it is useful for smaller scales as well. It has some support for multiple layers of site defaults, e.g. MIT, CSAIL (an MIT lab), and a research group within CSAIL might all use it to configure their machines [1].

The configuration package system is documented in detail at <http://debathena.mit.edu/config-packages/>; there are links from there to the complete source code and compiled Debian packages. The license is GPL (the same as that for CDBS itself).

Since this package is adding a new feature to Debian itself, we think our system should be discussed before we submit an ITP bug. There are some changes to Debian that would enhance the effectiveness of this system, (such as having all packages include md5sums and making ucf interact well with dpkg-divert'ed configuration files), which should perhaps be discussed in this context as well.

We would appreciate any questions, comments, or feedback.

	-Tim Abbott and Anders Kaseorg

[1] A version of config-package-dev has been in use as part of the Debathena Project (http://debathena.mit.edu/) at MIT for a few years now. Debathena is an enhanced port of Athena (MIT's cross-platform computing environment) from RHEL 4 and Solaris 10 to Debian (and Ubuntu). It's been adopted by MIT's introductory computer science class and some small clusters; but has been particularly popular for private machines whose owners want to access Athena services easily (for example, AFS and Kerberos should "just work") on an existing Debian/Ubuntu machine that they are free to configure. Athena is planning to migrate to Debathena later this year.

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