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Re: What is the best place for package meta-data ?

Le Sun, Aug 02, 2009 at 01:37:29PM +0200, Paul Wise a écrit :
> I think tying such information to a source or binary package is a bad
> idea since it changes independently of the package. I have similar
> issues with the Homepage field and to a lesser extent, watch files.
> Do you think that apt needs to have access to this information?

Hi Paul,

I think that you asked the key question, and that the answer will help us to
sort out the metadata contents in Debian packages.

Currently, debian/control contains:

 - Informations for the package manager (dpkg). For instance, the package name,
   the build dependancies, the binary dependancies, the Essential field,…

 - Informations for the archive manager (apt). For instance, the section and
   the priority, the package description,…

 - Informations for the online user. For instance the homepage and VCS URLs.

Typically, informations for the archive manager that are provided by a package
repository can differ from the contents of the source package. Descriptions can
be translated, section can be overriden (the Section: field in the source
package is not authoritative), Debtags can be added, …

Informations for the online user could follow the same logic: a copy could be
included in the source packages, for the benefit of providing it in a central
place and to give an easy interface to the package maintainers, but the one
that the users get on-line could be refreshed independantly of package uploads.

I was thinking to propose to have a supplementary file in the debian directory
following the ‘Name: contents’ convention of Debian control files (same as YAML
if we do not do wrapping), that maintainers could update in the source
package’s VCS (or at worse on their local hard drive) and use to push the
meta-data in a central database between two uploads if need is.

However, I realised that the Ultimate Debian Database, which I thought would be
a nice place to host the data, works on a retreiving model rather than a
pushing model. Before elaborating a complex workaround involving an
intermediate place where maintainers could push their meta-data, does anybody
think about an alternative? Andreas Tille suggested me the Package Entropy
Tracker, but it would limit the system to packages hosted in a Subversion
repository. This said, since many of the packages that caused us dig that
question (software for which we would like to provide registration and
bibliographic information) are mostly stored in a Svn, that may not be a
blocker for making a poof of principle…

Have a nice day,

Charles Plessy
Debian Med packaging team,
Tsurumi, Kanagawa, Japan

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