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Comments+blank line in debian/control: Clarification in policy or MBF?


While rebuilding our archive using pbuilder I noticed that all packages
build-depending on gnome-pkg-tools failed to build. That led me to filing
#684503, which I'll quote here for convenience:

| The file control.header ends with an empty blank line. As the contents of that
| file is prepended to debian/control for packages making using of
| gnome-pkg-tools, this results in
| <comments>
| <blank line>
| <actual debian/control contents>
| By policy, blank lines separate paragraphs, comments are discarded, so we end up
| with an empty first paragraph. Policy, however, requires that the *first*
| paragraph contains essential package information (Policy 5.2).
| The current setup breaks at least pbuilder's build-dependency parsing, which
| relies on this fact.
| If you believe that an empty first paragraph should not be considered a
| paragraph, please reassign to policy, asking for clarification that it's the
| *first non-empty* paragraph.

Ubuntu have fixed this bug in their version of gnome-pkg-tools already, but:

- the problem affects all packages *build-depending* on gnome-pkg-tools, thus
  I'd actually have to do an MBF (it's more than 160 packages)
- some other packages also contain comments and a blank line before the actual
  contents in debian/control (so at the very least I should be filing bugs
  against these as well)
- it seems only pbuilder is really strict in its interpretation of policy here,
  but effectively that means that all our other build infrastructure doing
  parsing of debian/control is *not* policy-compliant

Taking a pragmatic position, it would be best to have policy acknowledge the
fact that empty paragraphs don't count, and get the parser in pbuilder fixed.

Opinions would be much appreciated.


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