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Re: About new source formats for packages without patches

On Thu, 25 Mar 2010, Steve Langasek wrote:
> And the lintian warning goes away by explicitly setting source format to 1,
> so that's not standardizing on the "set of improved source formats"
> /anyway/, that's just nagging maintainers to make a change to their packages
> that AFAICS only helps your real goal if they actually *convert* the package
> to 3.0 in the process.  I think trying to use lintian as a cudgel here is
> counterproductive, particularly so long as the 3.0 format is still not
> supported as well as 1.0 by all the peripheral packaging tools.

If you read the lintian bug report (#566820), I requested a "pedantic" tag
that would be emitted if it's still using "1.0" even in that case. Russ
removed that because it's too soon for this according to him. I'm fine
with this decision.

As far as the peripheral packaging tools, which ones are really blocking
the adoption of the new source format?

Note that the lintian message specifically requests to contact us if you
decide to stick with 1.0 for such a technical reason. That's done that way
so that I can help resolve those problems. No later than this morning I
contacted the launchpad guys to allow new source formats in karmic PPA
because one DD continued to use 1.0 for this reason.

The other major blocker that I heard is backports.org not accepting the
new source formats and the backports.org maintainer is not willing to
upgrade dak, he prefers to wait until it's host below debian.org.

> But the 3.0 transition should be done the way such transitions in Debian are
> always done - gradually, and respectful of our maintainers' investments in
> the existing tools.  Thus far, I don't think you have a critical mass of
> mindshare behind 3.0, and I think it's wrong (and self-defeating) to try to
> force that.

I fully respect the decision of people that are using tools that do not
cope with the new source formats (or that have workflows that do not
integrate well with the new source formats) but I'm annoyed by people who
are staying with the old format without giving a valid reason (that's what
triggered this thread).

> > In the general case, switching is a small effort for sure, but in the case
> > pointed out by Neil (he won't convert packages with no patches because he
> > doesn't see the benefit) the effort is almost null, just create the file
> > debian/source/format with "3.0 (quilt)" and you're done.
> Aside from all the packaging tools that aren't quite there yet with 3.0
> support, 3.0 packages break two cheap generic tools that I used to be able
> to use to inspect source packages: zless, and interdiff.  While this loss
> doesn't outweigh the benefits, this is certainly not "win-win", and I would
> appreciate it if you would try to be more understanding of developers'
> natural resistance to this change.

So it breaks some of your habits. I can understand that and it's precisely
the kind of feedback that I want so that I can ensure that we have tools
that make it easier for you to deal with the new formats.
Do you have found replacement tools that suit you or is there still a need
for improved tools here?

For interdiff most people switched to "debdiff" but it has the
disadvantage to include the upstream change when the upstream version
changed. Maybe it should grow a --debian-dir option to only compare
the debian directory ? (In that case, it could also lead to an
optimization when comparing two 3.0 packages because you can only unpack
the debian.tar instead of unpacking the full source package)

For zless, people seem to open the debian.tar with vim or similar but I
can understand that it's less usable than a simple pager view of the
relevant files. Maybe it's a good idea to provide a debreview/debinspect
command in devscripts that would show the files in debian/ in a
standardized order that facilitates the review?

I'm going to fill wishlist bugs against devscripts for this: #575394 and

Raphaël Hertzog

Like what I do? Sponsor me: http://ouaza.com/wp/2010/01/05/5-years-of-freexian/
My Debian goals: http://ouaza.com/wp/2010/01/09/debian-related-goals-for-2010/

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