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Bug#98291: being truthful about the FHS and us

Package: debian-policy
Severity: wishlist

There is a bit of a glaring bug in policy.  An earlier attempt to
address this was made in #60461, but it seems like people found that
one confusing, and there has been no progress on it.  This proposal is
intended to supersede #60461, which never got any seconds, and only a
couple of comments from Wichert -- supporting arguments which appear
to be intended as objections, which suggests that the proposal was

Right.  I'll try to be clear.  (Plus, I'm going to propose a smaller,
simpler patch.)

The Problem:

Policy says packages "must comply" with the FHS.  The FHS says
"compliant" means "every requirement in this standard is met".
Period.  Any package which did that would be violating Debian policy!
(See, just for example, the /usr/doc symlinks.)  Yet any package that
doesn't is also violating policy!

What we want, as most of you probably know, is to be compatible, not
compliant.  From the FHS:

  "An implementation is fully compatible with this standard if every file
  or directory which it contains can be found by looking in the location
  specified here and will be found with the contents as specified here,
  even if that is not the primary or physical location of the file or
  directory in question."

(It goes on to state that "compatible" is a synonym for "fully

Furthermore, as Wichert points out in his comments to #60461, we would
probably like to reserve some wiggle room, just in case.  Thus, I
suggest we change the "must" to "should".

The Proposal (the patch):

--- debian-policy.sgml~	Mon May 21 10:45:51 2001
+++ debian-policy.sgml	Mon May 21 10:54:35 2001
@@ -3982,8 +3982,8 @@
 	  <heading>Linux File system Structure</heading>
-	    The location of all installed files and directories must
-	    comply  with the Linux File system Hierarchy Standard
+	    The location of all installed files and directories should
+	    be compatible with the Linux File system Hierarchy Standard
 	    (FHS).  The latest version of this document can be found
 	    alongside this manual or on
 	    <url id="http://www.pathname.com/fhs/";>.

Final comments:

This still works if we leave the "must" as "must".  Either way is
fine.  (Plus, it becomes a one-line patch, which is always nifty.)

This really is a technical bug in policy.  One of those "perfect" Star
Trek computers would probably explode if asked to process the policy
document today.  Worse yet, claiming compliance is a blatant lie to
our users.  So, I would really like to fast-track this proposal before
we freeze.

We can fine tune things later -- this is a bug fix.

If you really, really prefer "must" to "should", you can say so in
your second, and if the majority of seconds say so, then we'll leave

We need this now, please second.


Chris Waters           |  Pneumonoultra-        osis is too long
xtifr@debian.org       |  microscopicsilico-    to fit into a single
or xtifr@speakeasy.net |  volcaniconi-          standalone haiku

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