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Re: DEB-HOWTO for the LDP

Javier Fdz-Sanguino Pen~a wrote:
> [found an RPM-HOWTO in LDP]
> detailing Redhat's package system and interface.
>         I have recently written an article on the Debian package system
> (generic, not going into much detail) for a spanish magazine (Linux Actual)
> and I'm going to translate it to give it to another magazine (this one
> online and called "openresources"), so I feel I could give it a try: write a
> DEB-HOWTO for inclusion in the LDP proyect.

It would be a good thing to raise visibility of Debian outside of
Debian. Since most Debian tools are not directly usable on non-Debian
systems the FAQ should probably emphasize 'technical marketing' and
tell why .deb is 'better than rpm'. Other valuable info would be how
to use .debs on other systems. This should mention source packages
and have pointers to policy on how system is configured.

>         I have looked through Debian's Documentation Project (quite a
> change since I was last there) and have found there is quite some
> documentation, but more oriented towards developers.

So, what would be your target group?
 - normal Debian users wanting to know more or less than explained in
   various user guides there has been talk about
 - developers of outside software that want to distribute for Debian
   without becoming Debian developers
 - users of other distributions who want to know what and why of .deb
 - just for fun, general education without specific goal
This decision of course dictates what material to include and how to
present it.

>         What I would like to do is know if someone has thought of this
> before.. and wether it's a good idea (I feel it could be similar to a
> document with no author yet: How Software Producers can distribute their
> products directly in .deb format).

There are always more ideas than writers ... and most ideas are good,
independently of whether this has been thought before or not.
The thing is, what is a good trade-off between urgency of documentation
and resources it requires from you and how long you can make the
effort to maintain it. (I know some of this, my document did not make
it through, this time.)

>         Thing that it would include:
> - Deb package format internals ('ar' file)
> - Contents of a debian package: {pre,post}int's, changelog's and program
> files..
> - Debian package system vs other guys.
> - Interface to installing packages: dpkg, overview of use..
> - How to make a simple package (show 'hello' package and refer to debian
> policy)
> - Other interfaces: dselect, apt
> - Future proyects in Debian: apt's GUI
> - Inclusion of packages in the distribution

It is hard to tell from this list, since your target audience affects
to how you treat these topics. E.g. debian package internals (ar etc.)
is very important for somebody unpacking it on non-Debian system, but
but only backgound info for somebody making a package. The emphasis only
starts to be visible on the second level of contents.

>         Many of the areas overlap with things already written, alas, I would
> target towards a more "commoner" audience (not developers) and show pointers
> to info for those interested.

Overview documents that direct readers to applicable parts of relevant
documents are very valuable. Even more so if they can include even a
short rationale for the target audience if other documents were written
for other audience.

>         ¿What do you guys think of this?
>         Javi

Whatever you want to write, go for it. Just think about your target
audience and select the material accordingly. It will also help in
keeping your document shorter so it has better chances to be quickly
an useful document.


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