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Proposing the creation of a virtual package for icon themes


After a brief discussion in debian-mentors[1], Paul Wise suggested
that we might need a virtual package for icon themes that adhere to
the FreeDesktop.org icon naming spec[2]. Following his suggestions, I
posted a message requesting feedback from debian-desktop[3] (I suggest
that interested parties read that thread for more insight). Now I'm
following the instructions in the authoritative list of virtual
packages[4], and step 1 is proposing the changes to debian-devel and
filing a bug report against debian-policy (the report will be filed
after this e-mail is sent).

[1]: http://lists.debian.org/debian-mentors/2012/03/msg00055.html
[2]: http://standards.freedesktop.org/icon-naming-spec/icon-naming-spec-latest.html
[3]: http://lists.debian.org/debian-desktop/2012/03/msg00020.html
[4]: http://www.debian.org/doc/packaging-manuals/virtual-package-names-list.txt

The problem I'm trying to solve is that packages currently need to
express dependency relations on any of a number of icon themes that
provide the necessary icons. As an example, the package arista depends

gnome-icon-theme |
   gnome-icon-theme-gartoon |
   gnome-icon-theme-nuovo |
   gnome-icon-theme-yasis |
   lxde-icon-theme |
   moblin-icon-theme |
   tango-icon-theme |
   gnome-themes-more |

This obviously doesn't scale well. By introducing a virtual package
(say, "fdo-icon-theme"), several packages could be changed to depend
on (or suggest, recommend) something as simple as "gnome-icon-theme |

Some virtual package names have been proposed:

* fd-icon-theme (by Paul Wise)

* freedesktop-icon-theme (by Paul Wise)

* fdo-icon-theme (by Sune Vuorela)

They're all fine to me. If I had to pick one, I'd go with
fdo-icon-theme. I hope we can stay away from lengthy discussions about

This is how I imagine this change would impact maintainers:

* A lintian warning could be created to make sure that packages that
adhere to the spec provide the virtual package. I plan to take a look
at this if the idea goes through, but I know very little Perl, so I'd
be glad if someone beat me to it.

* Wishlist bugs could be filed against packages that adhere to the
spec but don't provide the virtual package.

* Likewise, wishlist bugs could be filed against packages that provide
the necessary icons but don't adhere to the spec.

It would be up to maintainers of individual packages to choose whether
to depend on (or suggest, recommend) the virtual package or on some
specific icon theme(s) instead, of course. But in most cases there
would be no reason not to simply depend on the virtual package.

The changes won't happen overnight. As soon as enough icon theme
packages provide the virtual package, the maintainers should be able
to depend on it. Given that the changes simplify package maintenance
and don't seem very disruptive, though, I believe the they will be
well received.

So in order for the process to continue, it would be great if we could
iron out any remaining issues. Does anybody object to this proposal
(and why)? Is there anything I'm missing, i.e., when it comes to how
this would impact packaging?


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