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Re: [PATCH/RFC] deb-version.5: Add an own manpage for Dpkg's version format

Frank Lichtenheld writes ("[PATCH/RFC] deb-version.5: Add an own manpage for Dpkg's version 	format"):
> 1) If I would copy this text, who to credit for it? For now I just
> copied the copyright notice from Policy but I suspect that might not be
> the whole truth given how old it is.

I haven't double-checked but I suspect it's pretty much the same text
as I wrote all those years ago.

> 2) Should we really try to include more documentation of dpkg's
> behaviour in dpkg itself? (My answer is a clear "yes" to that)
> If yes, how do we avoid duplication with policy? After all we probably
> can't just delete such stuff from policy since there might be
> differences what dpkg supports and what policy allows. But not
> documenting dpkg features until they are allowed by Policy is not
> a good way either.

Originally what is now the policy manual was two documents (both of
which I wrote):
  * dpkg Programmers' Manual
  * Debian Policy Manual

The former described the behaviour of dpkg, from a package
maintainer's point of view, and documented the restrictions and
requirements which are inherent in dpkg's behaviour.

The latter described other decisions made by Debian which weren't
direct consequences of the behaviour of dpkg.

I wasn't there when it was decided to merge these, so I can't say for
sure what the reasons were.  Obviously before reversing this decision
again it would be sensible to understand the reasons behind it, and to
consider whether we agree with them and whether they still apply.

Two obvious reasons I can think of are that it may have been felt
confusing to maintainers to have to consult two documents, and that
there may have been a desire to put the dpkg Programmers Manual into
some kind of formal change process or at least to take it out of the
hands of what were at the time the rather chaotic hands of the various
dpkg maintainers.

Personally I think merging this documents was a mistake and they
should be separated again.  However, others may disagree.  Times have
changed quite a bit.

When these manuals were separate dpkg was the principal complex piece
of code which handled packages.  Now the higher-level tools like apt,
archive management software, package tracking systems, etc. etc., all
have reliance on the package format - so changing it isn't as simple
as changing dpkg.

On the other hand, the "we need it in one place" argument is less
strong now, because nowadays we have a plethora of documents which a
maintainer is expected to keep abreast of.


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