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Re: X facts about Debian - some fact checking and looking for ideas.

On Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 04:10:05PM +0530, shirish शिरीष wrote:
> @Andrey Rahmatullin  I read your answer at
> https://lists.debian.org/debian-devel/2017/08/msg00598.html but it
> doesn't tell me whether this obvious idea was born in Debian or some
> other GNU/Linux distribution. I do not the early history of Debian so
> it is possible that at one point it was a single changelog.gz file and
> then separation of the two changelogs happened along the road or
> something like that.

To the best of my knowledge, Debian changes were never recorded by
editing the upstream changelog file; that would have been silly, and not
at all the path of least resistance (bear in mind that the plethora of
patch management tools we have nowadays mostly didn't exist then, so
maintaining patches against a frequently-changing file such as a
changelog would have been pretty cumbersome).

It did take a little while for the current format to evolve.  For
example, very early source packages had changes recorded in a
"debian.README" file in somewhat ad-hoc formats.

I think the current changelog format arrived with dpkg 1.3.x in August
1996 (https://lists.debian.org/debian-devel/1996/08/msg00369.html etc.),
but true old-timers might remember more.

> If somebody knows something it would be nice to know. I had tried to
> look if early packages could be found but sadly snapshot.debian.org
> has records from 2k5 only, a simple
> http://snapshot.debian.org/archive/debian/?year=2000 reveals from when
> the packages are available. The first Debian stable release was in
> 1996. https://www.debian.org/doc/manuals/project-history/ch-releases.en.html

You can find old releases on http://archive.debian.org/debian/, as far
back as 0.93R6.  The recognisable modern(-ish) source package format
wasn't around until Debian 1.2.

> Also the crucial question if whether this idea came in Debian first
> and then flowed to other distributions or was it was first used in
> Redhat and then came to Debian would be interesting in itself.

I don't think you should claim this as a Debian innovation.  For
example, early Slackware releases had a changelog separate from upstream
changelogs, even if it was (and I think still is) distribution-wide
rather than per-package:


Debian *may* have been the first distribution to include
machine-parseable changelogs in a consistent source package format, but
I'm not particularly certain of that.

Colin Watson                                       [cjwatson@debian.org]

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