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Perl 5.10 transition - effects on Emdebian

Most of Emdebian is currently broken due to dependency issues and cannot
actually be fixed because updates are uninstallable. Both problems are
directly due to a transition in Debian unstable as part of the Lenny
release process.


OK, for those who are unaware, Debian is in the midst of both a Release
Freeze and a major transition - perl 5.10. (It wasn't my idea to
transition perl 5.10 at this time, I'm just trying to pick up the

Some packages (like dpkg) are already frozen - new uploads will have a
hard time getting into testing. Thankfully, the changes we need in dpkg
made it in time and emdebian-tools has also migrated. HOWEVER, fixes for
emdebian-tools are currently involved in the perl 5.10 transition and
are (or will be) uninstallable as a direct result.

Take a look at:

On the far right, the Uninstallable column should be almost completely
empty (it was on Wednesday). Instead, nearly all my packages are
completely uninstallable - including non-perl ones.

This affects Debian unstable but it also affects Emdebian chroot scripts
and upgrades.

All sorts of breakages are now likely until this transition is over -
mainly to do with uninstallable dependencies. Many many C packages
depend on perl one way or another in Debian so all those are also

debconf and debhelper are currently embroiled in this transition, as are
the apt perl bindings - these are the fundamental perl packages in
Debian and until these can be installed, everything is broken.

*** All debootstrap type operations on Debian unstable will likely fail
until this transition is almost complete. cdebootstrap and equivalents
are affected in precisely the same manner, including emdebian-rootfs***

*Most apt-get, synaptic or aptitude operations in unstable will FAIL*


1. I'll be migrating current Emdebian target packages (the ones for
emsandbox) into Emdebian testing ASAP. These will remain and new
packages uploaded will not migrate until all this chaos is resolved.

2. I'll be uploading new Emdebian target packages ASAP because I do now
have fixes for gcc-4.3 and it is lintian clean. (However, that process
showed up a few bugs in the tools because gcc-4.3 only builds
successfully inside a clean cross-building chroot for some - as yet
unidentified - reason.)

3. There will be updates to emdebian-tools but I'm not sure how I'll
manage those - the tools are currently uninstallable alongside almost
every perl package in Debian but upgrades may be possible. I have a
problem with debhelper >= 7.0.4 which is also involved in this mess
because my main systems have upgraded but chroots now cannot.

The problem comes down to how often you update your systems and your
chroots. Old chroots not updated since about Wednesday evening are
borked - you will find dozens of uninstallable packages and
dependencies. New chroots updated since Wednesday will have some updates
but also include a broken update that breaks parts of emdebian-tools and
which now cannot be fixed because the affected packages cannot be

This feeds into debootstrap and friends too - when packages are
uninstallable in Debian unstable, it becomes impossible to create new
debootstap images from Debian unstable and therefore impossible to
create new chroots as well as upgrade old ones. 

This is why I will be trying to maintain the current (installable but
buggy) target packages in Emdebian testing in a pristine state whilst
the temporarily uninstallable but less buggy updated packages go into
Emdebian unstable.

Everything is just so broken that it is going to be hard to keep things
working. Please don't complain about uninstallability issues - there is
nothing anyone in Emdebian can do to resolve these problems. You simply
have to wait until this transition is completed in Debian unstable. Note
that when this transition is finally complete, Emdebian needs to have
ALL the relevant packages UPDATED because perl 5.10 will immediately
migrate into Debian testing with all the new packages.

I will be taking advantage of this chaos by uploading as many fixed
packages as I possibly can into Emdebian unstable and although I've been
the only one doing that so far, I would ask those with upload privileges
NOT to upload anything to the target repository or change anything in
the target repository (buildd.emdebian.org/emdebian)
[/var/emdebian/emdebian/ on ant] without checking with me first for each
individual package / change.

During this time, I will be using standard Emdebian / Debian QA tools to
try to ensure that the Emdebian uploads are installable but the unstable
repository as a whole is likely to remain completely unusable depending
on how the transition in Debian affects debootstap.

I will try to upload EXISTING builds wherever possible and use old
chroots where I can, replacing with updated builds only when absolutely

If you are building Emdebian packages or using Emdebian target packages
for root filesystems, expect Debian unstable to remain broken until the
perl 5.10 transition is almost complete and expect breakage in Emdebian
unstable as well from time to time.

AFAICT emdebian-tools and direct dependencies are not affected by perl
5.10 directly but until the indirect dependencies are fixed in Debian
(especially libaptpkg-perl) the tools are likely to remain

In cases where you have emdebian-tools >= 1.0.0 and you want my updates
for 1.0.3 and later, if the package is uninstallable you can "force"
things by copying files out of SVN and into place. NOTE: there is one
proviso with this - keep emdebian-tools_1.0.0_all.deb (and the other
binaries built from the same source) around so that you can reinstall it
if the direct copy breaks things. I cannot make any assurance that such
copying will actually work - all I can say is that I will try to ensure
that my future commits to SVN work at least on my own (broken) systems
and in my (non-broken) chroots but, right now, that is not true - so
take care.

If you have the option, I would recommend avoiding Debian unstable until
this perl transition is complete. Most of the tools have some kind of
testing support but it might not be complete. However, I'm afraid that
you are stuck with what you currently have as far as testing is
concerned - anything that is currently broken in testing will remain
broken until this whole mess is fixed in Debian. You might be able to
copy some code from SVN but I am unable to test this configuration so I
can't realistically expect to provide fixes for such configurations
within SVN itself.

I'll see about making my existing root filesystem .tgz available for
download but they are quite old (and buggy). New .tgz files are unlikely
to be possible during this transition - not much anyone can do about
that now. There simply wasn't time to make any preparations for this
transition - it followed immediately from the python-2.5 transition.

Right now, Debian unstable is not so much unstable as 99% uninstallable.
What you have will work with the same bugs as before - getting those
bugs fixed is likely to be impossible during this transition. Sorry.


Neil Williams

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