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Bug#138409: [PROPOSAL] Add build environment data to <package>.changes files

Package: debian-policy
Severity: wishlist

This is a proposal to add information about a package's build environment
to the "changes" file that accompanies the upload of each package. The 
build environment information contains the versions of packages used to
build the given package. The inclusion of this information is mandatory.
(for packages that declare a sufficiently high standards version, of course)

In working with the various ports for the Debian woody release (directly 
with ia64 and hppa, and indirectly via interactions with other porters 
on mips, etc) we have observed that it is often times useful to have a
record of the build environment of Debian packages. This is partially
taken care of by the build-dependency mechanism currently in place; the
present proposal is to take this one step further to include exact versions
of dependent packages used to build a certain source package.

This proposal should stand on its own without depending on a specific
implementation, but here is one idea for a possible implementation:

A new packaging helper tool will be created, hereby refered to as

dpkg-buildinfo will read debian/control and for each package listed as a 
build-dependency, add a line to bldinfo file of the form:
 <package> <version>
For example:
 debhelper 3.4.11

In addition to the explicit build-dependencies listed in debian/control,
dpkg-buildinfo also writes version info for all dependents of the 
build-essential package.

The resulting bldinfo file is appended to the .changes file created by the
packaging process under a "Build-Info" section.

1. .changes files are not distributed in the archive, but are usually 
available on ftp-master. I was also informed by Ryan Murray that there are
plans to have more reliable archiving of changes files.
2. Ideally one might want to recursively list all the dependents of build-
dependencies too, but that is probably too expensive to compute.
3. My thanks to Ryan Murray, Anthony Towns and Lamont Jones for their 
comments and suggestions on refining this proposal.

Debian Developer <tausq@debian.org>

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