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Meaning of the different “format” fields and files.

Dear all,

I am getting confused by the different meanings of the Format fields and the
format file in the Debian source packages and their accompanying files.

[In the paragraphs below, I name the files according to Policy 3.8.4 §5]

 * In Debian changes files, Format is currently 1.8; I suppose that it
   defines the meaning and syntax of the other fields. Is there a place were the
   history of this file format is defined? Is it a general format number for what
   we call the “pseudo RFC-822”, “paragraph”, or  “stanza” format?

 * In the Debian source control files, Format is 1.0 or 3.0 (variant). This
   defines the format of the source package. Is the format of the Debian source control
   file itself tied to the format of the source package, or is it independant as for
   the changes files?

 * A Format field in source package control files used to determine
   the Format field of the Debian source control files, but in the latest
   Policy, this field is not listed in §5.2, that defines source package control files.
   However, other fields, like the VCS-* fields are not listed there, so it
   does not mean that the Format field is disallowed. Nevertheless it seems to be
   deprecated. Should the policy be updated to reflect this?

 * §5.6.16 specifies a value of 1.5 for all Format fields. Is it a source package format
   version or a “pseudo RFC-822” format version. If yes should this number be updated to 1.8,
   or even to 1.9 to reflect that the Format field is deprecated in source package
   control files?

 * Lastly, there is the new debian/source configuration directory, that is used
   by the latest dpkg-dev, but also by lintian. Is the structure of this directory
   described somewhere? Is it versionned? 

Needless to say, I volunteer to send a patch to the Policy that will summarise
the answers to this email.

Have a nice day,

Charles Plessy
Tsurumi, Kanagawa, Japan

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