Bug#582109: debian-policy: document triggers where appropriate
I am still seeking comments for the attached patch, that describes Dpkg
Have a nice day,
>From 6a7fd0e49cb8dbd025771feb95c2dcafb408c1b8 Mon Sep 17 00:00:00 2001
From: Charles Plessy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 2 Mar 2013 22:48:04 +0900
Subject: [PATCH] Document dpkg triggers.
policy.sgml | 275 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++--
1 file changed, 268 insertions(+), 7 deletions(-)
diff --git a/policy.sgml b/policy.sgml
index a41bc1f..c6e1a9e 100644
@@ -900,9 +900,12 @@ zope.
the package. Other control information files include
the <qref id="sharedlibs-symbols"><file>symbols</file> file</qref>
or <qref id="sharedlibs-shlibdeps"><file>shlibs</file> file</qref>
- used to store shared library dependency information and
+ used to store shared library dependency information,
the <file>conffiles</file> file that lists the package's
- configuration files (described in <ref id="config-files">).
+ configuration files (described in <ref id="config-files">), and the
+ file <file>triggers</file> that lists the
+ <qref id="dpkg-triggers">triggers</qref> that the package is interested
@@ -3958,6 +3961,51 @@ Checksums-Sha256:
+ Dpkg defines the folowing states for the packages.
+ The package is not installed on the system.
+ Only the configuration files of the package exist on the system.
+ The installation of the package has been started, but not
+ completed for some reason.
+ The package is unpacked, but not configured.
+ The package is unpacked and configuration has been started, but
+ not yet completed for some reason.
+ The package awaits trigger processing by another package.
+ The package has been triggered.
+ The package is unpacked and configured.
Broadly speaking the <prgn>preinst</prgn> is called before
(a particular version of) a package is unpacked, and the
<prgn>postinst</prgn> afterwards; the <prgn>prerm</prgn>
@@ -4141,6 +4189,26 @@ Checksums-Sha256:
from the package dependencies are not available is often the
+ <tag><var>postinst</var> <tt>triggered</tt>
+ "<var>trigger-name</var> <var>trigger-name</var> ..."</tag>
+ Process one or more <qref id="dpkg-triggers">triggers</qref> that
+ this package is <em>interested</em> in. In case of failure the
+ package's state becomes <tt>config-failed</tt>, so that the trigger
+ processing will not be attempted again until explicitly
+ When an interested package has more than one trigger and wants
+ to process them differently, the list of triggers can be can be
+ examined in a shell script like this:
+case " $2 " in
+*" trigger-name-a "*) process-trigger-a ;;
+ Generally each trigger name should be tested for separately, as
+ the postinst will often be called for several triggers at once.
@@ -4694,6 +4762,198 @@ fi
+ <sect id="dpkg-triggers">
+ <heading>Dpkg triggers</heading>
+ A <prgn>dpkg</prgn> trigger is a facility that allows events caused
+ by the installation, upgrade or removal of one package, and of
+ <em>interest</em> to another package, to be recorded and
+ aggregated, and processed later by the interested package. This
+ feature simplifies various registration and system-update tasks and
+ reduces duplication of processing.
+ Each trigger is named, and at any time zero or more packages may be
+ <em>interested</em> in it. Packages declare their interest by
+ including a <file>triggers</file> file in their control archive.
+ This file contains one directive per line. Leading and trailing
+ whitespace, everything after the first hash character (<tt>#</tt>)
+ on any line, and empty lines are ignored. The following directives
+ are supported.
+ <tag><tt>interest</tt> <var>trigger-name</var></tag>
+ <tag><tt>interest-noawait</tt> <var>trigger-name</var></tag>
+ Specifies that the package is interested in the named trigger.
+ The <em>noawait</em> variant does not put the triggering packages
+ in "Triggers-Awaited" state, and does not add the
+ interested package to the <tt>Triggers-Awaited</tt> list of the
+ triggering package.
+ <tag><tt>activate</tt> <var>trigger-name</var></tag>
+ <tag><tt>activate-noawait</tt> <var>trigger-name</var></tag>
+ Specifies that changes to this package's state will activate the
+ named trigger. The <em>noawait</em> variant does not put the
+ triggering packages in "Triggers-Awaited" state, and does
+ not add the interested package to the <tt>Triggers-Awaited</tt>
+ list of the triggering package.
+ There currently two kinds of triggers.
+ <tag>Explicit triggers</tag>
+ These can be activated by any program by running
+ <prgn>dpkg-trigger</prgn> (at any time, but ideally from a
+ maintainer script.
+ <tag>File triggers</tag>
+ These are activated automatically by <prgn>dpkg</prgn> when a
+ matching file or directory is created, upgraded or deleted as
+ part of a package's unpacking or removal. They may also be
+ explicitly activated by running <prgn>dpkg-trigger</prgn>.
+ Trigger activation due to a particular file should not generally
+ modify that file again. If there are directory symlinks which
+ result in packages referring to files by different names, then to
+ be sure of activation all of the paths which might be included in
+ packages should be listed. The path specified by the interested
+ package is matched against the path included in the triggering
+ package, not against the true name of the file as installed.
+ Only textually identical filenames (or filenames where the
+ interest is a directory prefix of the installed file) are
+ guaranteed to match.
+ Trigger names are composed of US-ASCII characters excluding
+ control characters and space (i.e., characters in the range 33-126,
+ inclusive). The names of file triggers is an absolute path to
+ a file or a directory. The names of Explicit triggers have the same
+ syntax as package names, but should not by identical to a package
+ When choosing an explicit trigger name it is usually good to
+ include a relevant package name or some other useful identifier
+ to help make the trigger name unique. On the other hand,
+ explicit triggers should generally not be renamed just because
+ the interested or triggering packages' names change.
+ When a configured package activates a trigger, its state becomes
+ "Triggers-Awaited" instead of "Installed". For this
+ package, <prgn>dpkg</prgn> keeps a list, <tt>Triggers-Awaited</tt>
+ of interested packages whose trigger processing is awaited. Every
+ package in this list either has a nonempty list of pending triggers,
+ or is in <tt>config-failed</tt> or worse. When a package in the
+ state "Triggers-Pending" becomes "Installed",
+ "Config-Files" or "Not-Installed", its entry is
+ removed from the <tt>Triggers-Awaited</tt> lists of other packages.
+ When a trigger is activated, the state of every interested package
+ becomes "Triggers-Pending". For each package,
+ <prgn>dpkg</prgn> keeps a list, <tt>Triggers-Pending</tt>, of
+ triggers whose processing is pending. Repeated activation of the
+ same trigger has no additional effect. In general a trigger will
+ not be processed immediately when it is activated; processing is
+ deferred until it is convenient.
+ Packages in the state "Triggers-Pending" that activate a
+ trigger become "Triggers-Awaited". If a package has nonempty
+ <tt>Triggers-Awaited</tt> and <tt>Triggers-Pending</tt> lists, then
+ its state is "Triggers-Awaited". Nevertheless efforts will
+ still be made to process its triggers so as to empty the
+ <tt>Triggers-Pending</tt> list. When a package in the state
+ "Triggers-Awaited" no longer awaits any packages, it becomes
+ "Installed" or "Triggers-Pending".
+ Packages should be written so that they do not break just because
+ their pending triggers have not yet been run. It is allowed for the
+ functionality relating to the unprocessed trigger to fail (ie, the
+ package which is awaiting the trigger processing may be broken), but
+ the remainder of the interested package must work normally.
+ Packages in "Config-Files" or "Not-Installed" do not
+ await triggers.
+ Triggers are processed by running the intersted packages'
+ <tt>postinst</tt> script with the <tt>triggered</tt> parameter (see
+ <ref id="mscriptsinstact">). This will be attempted for each
+ relevant package at the end of each <prgn>dpkg</prgn> run; so,
+ normally, in the same dpkg run as the event which made the package go
+ to <prgn>triggers-pending</prgn>.
+ Packages in <tt>config-failed</tt> or worse are never considered to
+ have lists of pending triggers. A package whose postinst is being
+ run can however acquire pending triggers during that run (ie, a
+ package can trigger itself).
+ This means that if a triggering package <var>T</var> awaits trigger
+ processing by an interested package <var>I</var>, and <var>I</var>
+ goes to <tt>config-failed</tt> or worse (eg, during unpack for
+ upgrade), then when <var>I</var> is reconfigured (goes to
+ "Installed") or removed, <var>T</var> will no longer await
+ processing by <var>I</var>, so that <var>T</var> may automatically go
+ from "Triggers-Awaited" to "Installed".
+ Or to put it another way, triggered actions are considered irrelevant
+ if the interested package <var>I</var> is not configured. When
+ <var>I</var>'s postinst is called with <tt>configure</tt>, it must do
+ whatever actions are necessary to deal with any trigger activations
+ which might have occurred while it was not configured, just as if the
+ package was being configured for the first time.
+ A package is only guaranteed to become notified of a trigger
+ activation if it is continuously interested in the trigger, and never
+ in <tt>config-failed</tt> or worse, during the period from when the
+ trigger is activated until dpkg runs the package postinst (either due
+ to <tt>--configure --pending</tt>, or at the end of the relevant run,
+ as described above). Subsequent to activation and before
+ notification, the interested package will not be considered in state
+ "Installed", so long as the package remains interested, and
+ the triggering package will not be considered "Installed".
+ If the package is not in state "Installed",
+ "Triggers-Pending" or "Triggers-Awaited" then pending
+ triggers are not accumulated. However, if such a package (between
+ "Half-Installed" and <tt>config-failed</tt> inclusive)
+ declares some trigger interests then the triggering packages will
+ await their configuration (which implies completion of any necessary
+ trigger processing) or removal.
@@ -4716,8 +4976,8 @@ fi
dependencies on other packages, the package names listed may
also include lists of alternative package names, separated
by vertical bar (pipe) symbols <tt>|</tt>. In such a case,
- if any one of the alternative packages is installed, that
- part of the dependency is considered to be satisfied.
+ if any one of the alternative packages is installed or has pending
+ triggers, that part of the dependency is considered to be satisfied.
@@ -4978,7 +5238,8 @@ Build-Depends: foo [linux-any], bar [any-i386], baz [!linux-any]
<prgn>postinst</prgn> or <prgn>prerm</prgn> scripts
require the depended-on package to be unpacked or
configured in order to run. In the case of <tt>postinst
- configure</tt>, the depended-on packages will be unpacked
+ configure</tt> and <tt>postinst triggers</tt>,
+ the depended-on packages will be unpacked
and configured first. (If both packages are involved in a
dependency loop, this might not work as expected; see the
explanation a few paragraphs back.) In the case
@@ -8097,8 +8358,8 @@ Reloading <var>description</var> configuration...done.
The <package>mime-support</package> package provides the
<prgn>update-mime</prgn> program, which integrates these
- registrations in the <file>/etc/mailcap</file> file, using dpkg
+ registrations in the <file>/etc/mailcap</file> file, using
+ <qref id="dpkg-triggers">dpkg triggers</qref><footnote>
Creating, modifying or removing a file in
<file>/usr/lib/mime/packages/</file> using maintainer scripts will
not activate the trigger. In that case, it can be done by calling