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Re: Non-Debian packaging practice

On Fri, Mar 10, 2006 at 10:35:22PM -0000, StealthMonger wrote:
> Is there a document describing software packaging good practices for
> general use, not specific to Debian, preferably in electronic form?

Policy describes how Debian packages should look.  If you don't intend to get
the package into Debian, it's still a good idea to follow those rules, because
the users which will install the package want a consistent system (and the
fact that Debian packages follow Policy is the reason that they usually get
it, too).

> Debian discourages creating Debian-native packages: "This type of
> packaging is only appropriate for the debian-specific packages, which
> will never be useful in another distribution." [1]

That's right.  The idea is that packaging is Debian's business, and upstream
shouldn't need to bother with it.  Also, non-Debian users shouldn't be
confused by a bunch of extra files in the source that do nothing for them.  So
the "release tarball" should not contain any packaging stuff, as far as Debian
is concerned.  (Yes, I know other distributions have different opinions about

> But creating it for other distributions requires some knowledge of what
> those other distributions expect of a package.

I don't know what you mean with that exactly.  If you're referring to the fact
that they need files in your release tarball, that's IMO a bug in their
packaging process.  What should be in that file?  I don't know, ask them. ;-)

Debian tries not to put any limits on the way you wish to release your source.
So if you make a proper Debian package, then the foo_version.orig.tar.gz
should be usable directly for any other distribution as well.  (In fact it is
of course the other way around: you use your release tarball directly for
Debian.)  There currently is a limit that it must be .tar.gz, and not .zip or
.tar.bz2.  I think this is something that will be fixed in the new (not yet
working) package format.

> The current interest here is primarily in packages consisting of shell
> scripts, as opposed to compilable code, but presumably the question
> arises in either case.

For packaging it doesn't matter much what it is.  In case of shell scripts,
your compile rule will be short. ;-)  As an aside: remember to use
Architecture: all, not any, for such architecture-independent packages.  Not
that it matters much if you don't upload them to the archive. :-)

I hope this answers your question.  If not, please rephrase it. ;-)

Bas Wijnen

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