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Unversioned dependencies and empty packages

Dear fellow developers,

Sorry for the cross-post, I'm not sure what the most appropriate list for
this is.

Recently debhelper was changed to ensure that packages which link to another
package's documentation directory (/usr/share/doc/${package}) have a strictly
versioned dependency on the latter package. (This is dh_installdocs with
the --link-doc option.) The latest version of debhelper now causes an error
if this is done from an arch: all to an arch: any package (or vice versa), to
avoid a common case where binNMUs result in uninstallable packages.

There's nothing wrong with all this, but it brings up an interesting,
somewhat related, point. Can empty packages (such as transitional package or
metapackages) depend on another package for their documentation (including
licensing information) without having a strict versioned dependency on that

An example is gcc-mingw-w64: it produces a number of empty metapackages and
one transitional package (mingw32, containing only links), which all depend on
gcc-mingw-w64-base, and the latter contains the documentation. The
dependencies don't have a version, which means that even though the
empty packages are arch: all, the whole contraption is binNMU-friendly.

I reckon this is OK since there is no content in these binary packages to
license in any way, unless the meta-data itself needs to be licensed. So it
doesn't matter if the versions of the metapackages and the "real" packages
diverge (from a licensing point of view), even if the license on the
corresponding source packages changes...

What do you think?

Thanks for your time,


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