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Effect of Replaces in coexisting packages (was: cm-super for Debian, problems with tetex)

Dear dpkg team,

we were talking about a framework to allow users to create font packages
for commercial or "free-beer" fonts, and it turned out that in some
cases these packages would provide files that are already in a Debian
package, using a Replaces: in the control file. 

Ralf Stubner <ralf.stubner@physik.uni-erlangen.de> wrote:

>> No, it would replace FILES from texlive-fontsrecommended.
> <KLATSCH>, thanks for setting me straight. BTW, would that be needed in
> both packages? I mean, one can't be sure which one is installed first
> after all. Or, if foo replaces files in bar, bar is allowed to do the
> same in foo even without declaring so?

I don't know.  dpkg would have to keep record of "replaced" files, and I
don't know whether it does.  Indeed it can easily happen that you use
Replaces on a locally created package, and after installing it the
"replaced" packages gets an update.

What will happen in this case?  Will dpkg give an error, silently
overwrite the replacing package's files, or ignore them?

TIA, Frank
Frank Küster
Inst. f. Biochemie der Univ. Zürich
Debian Developer

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