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Bootstrappable Debian - a decision is needed, patches exist


This email is a follow up on the thread started January 2013 [1]. In summary:
it seems that the ability to bootstrap Debian from scratch and the requirement
to extend the Build-Depends syntax meet general agreement.

What is yet to be decided is the concrete format for the Build-Depends syntax extension. The first proposals suggested a syntax which looked like

    Build-Depends: foo [amd64] <!stage1>

Which would indicate that the build dependency "foo" would not apply if the
build profile called "stage1" is activated. It was critisized [2] that this
syntax wastes a meta character and thus prohibits future extensions of the
Build-Depends syntax. Therefore the second proposal (finalised at debconf13)
looked like this:

    Build-Depends: foo [amd64] [!profile.stage1]

The rectangular brackets are reused and a prefixed namespace is used to
indicate that "stage1" is a build profile name. We hoped this would be the
final spec, given the previous discussion, but those brackets also got some
pushback [3] and thus the third version was born:

    Build-Depends: foo [amd64] <!profile.stage1>

We wrote down the last two options in form of a spec on the Debian wiki [11].

Patches for dpkg, python-debian, apt and sbuild implementing the original
format have existed for years [4]. Patches for the new formats have existed for
some time as well [5]. They are surely not perfect but we would like to get
them into a state in which they can be integrated into dpkg. But for that we
need some feedback from the dpkg devs as well as a final decision of the Debian
community about which syntax to choose. We are writing to d-devel this time
because the thread on d-dpkg [6,7] has been dormant for a month once again.
Maybe bringing this issue to a wider audience will help make a decision on this
problem. The results from two years of GSoC [8,9] as well as the year long
efforts of others [10] cannot bear any fruit without this issue finally being
taken care of.

Thank you!

josch & wookey

[1] http://lists.debian.org/20130115181840.GA16417@hoothoot
[2] http://lists.debian.org/20726.45081.38709.233549@chiark.greenend.org.uk
[3] http://lists.debian.org/20130816121504.GB20673@gaara.hadrons.org
[4] http://people.debian.org/~wookey/bootstrap/patches/profiles/tools/
[5] http://lists.debian.org/20130917103117.2726.40546@hoothoot
[6] http://lists.debian.org/20130419194252.17205.76995@hoothoot
[7] http://lists.debian.org/debian-dpkg/2013/08/msg00019.html
[8] http://www.alkmim.eti.br/~alkmim/gitrepo/autobootstrap.git
[9] https://gitorious.org/debian-bootstrap/botch
[10] http://people.debian.org/~wookey/bootstrap
[11] https://wiki.debian.org/BuildProfileSpec

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