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Re: Debian and FHS

On 2 Mar 2000, Chris Waters wrote:

> Steve Robbins <steve@nyongwa.montreal.qc.ca> writes:
> > May I suggest that the policy document clearly state that the aim is
> > `compatibility'?  For instance, by replacing the quoted sentence with
> > something like:
> > 	Debian packages must be compatible with version X.Y of the FHS.
> > 	(See the FHS document for a definition of `compatible'.)
> You can do better than suggest; you can make a formal proposal.
> (Anyone in the world can offer policy proposals, though only Debian
> members can second them.)

Thanks.  I wasn't sure whether the general public could make proposals.  

Poking around in /usr/share/doc/debian-policy, for example, I see a
"proposal" document.  This document is written as a *proposal* to propose
policy changes, so I was unsure of its status.  It is over a year old, so
I had assumed that the proposal has been adopted without the language
being updated to read as a *policy* on proposing policy changes :).

However, the document is a bit vague on who can make proposals.  Section
3.1 specifically says that one must be a developer, but doesn't say
anything about using the BTS.  And section 3.4 which speculates on using
the BTS says at first that "(note: this should be open to anyone at all)",
and then "Only registered Debian developers may formally create

If it really is open to all, I'll put in a policy bug shortly.

> My first comment, though: I doubt that we want to specify the version
> of the FHS.  I realize that there's a little ambiguity if we don't,
> but A) I don't think we want to revise policy every time the FHS is
> updated, 

I think one *does* want to update the policy document each time the FHS is
updated.  Otherwise, the policy can be invalidated by external forces. For
example, when FHS 2.0 specified that /var/state be used in place of
/var/lib, suddenly no packages would comply with policy!  At the very
least, someone ought to audit the changes between FHS versions to ensure
that Debian really can live with the new FHS.

As a practical matter, the Debian policy is updated *way* more frequently
than the FHS has been, and I suspect that will continue to be the case.  
So this shouldn't be a huge burden, should it?

> Second comment: if you do make a formal proposal, make sure that you
> point out where policy currently prevents compliance.  (The /usr/doc
> symlinks are a good example.)  Otherwise you'll get lots of irrelevent
> objections from people who think that compliance is a better goal.

Good point.  I'll try to list a few instances.

> > A question now occurs to me: is Debian `policy' now fully compatible with
> > the FHS?
> To the best of my knowledge, yes.  There have been several rounds of
> checking for FHS issues.  If any are left, it should probably be
> considered a bug in policy.  (Most of the ones we have found to date
> have been treated as bugs and quickly fixed.)

Great!  Thanks for your comments.

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