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Re: Working on debian developer's reference and "best packaging practices"

> On Tue, Apr 30, 2002 at 03:46:17PM -0500, Manoj Srivastava wrote:
> > 	Apropos to that, Policy proper contains elements that ought
> >  not to be in there, but remain as vestigial documentation of dpkg
> >  (which is how policy started).  Policy is going to be cleaned up and,
> >  and perhaps rewritten (probably in DocBook format) post woody (I like
> >  the layout of the sections in the FHS 2.2 document); and made into a
> >  more coherent, leaner version, as befits a standard document. Some of
> >  the examples need to be pruned from the policy proper; so a look into
> >  policy would be appreciated.

What exactly is the.. raison d'etre of this new policy to be,
then? Personally, I can't see the need for a "standards" document
for Debian -- yes, POSIX, the FHS etc are useful, but they're already
standards; and documentation on how to use dpkg and debhelper and debconf
etc is needed, but that tends to change much more regularly than, say,
ANSI C or POSIX does, so doesn't really seem all that appropriate for a
"standards" process.

> > 	My vision of policy is like that it is analogous to, say, the
> >  C standard, and not a DPKG for dummies or teach yourself packaging in 24
> >  hours kind of document. It would be nice if the "Debian Best
> >  Packaging Practices" document plays a complementary role and picks up
> >  the slack.  It would perhaps make policy more digestible. 

Advice like, say ``4.1. Version numbers based on dates'' or ``5.7.1. Notes
about writing descriptions'' or ``12.4. Editors and pagers'' are good
advice on how to make sure what your packaging is high quality, but much
of it doesn't seem incredibly appropriate for something written to be
like the "C standard".

For that matter, "style guides" tends to be a lot more useful than
"standards", and referred to by a greater proportion of the people
trying to write in, eg, C. If "policy" is only going to be referred to
be a small proportion of developers, is it really worth maintaining?

To sum up: there're two things that bother me about this. One is that I
don't really see the point of a "Debian standards" document. It might
be fun to be chair of a standards committee, but I don't see how the
content of it is going to actually benefit anyone. The more important
thing that worries me though is that this might be done in a way similar
to how the packaging manual was "merged", trimming out a whole bunch
of useful information on the assumption that it'll get rewritten into
a new document, that never eventuates. Losing all the non-prescriptive
information from debian-policy would be rather horrific.

> and meet
> the most frequent complaint about the old policy + packaging manual:
> they contradict, and I have to look in two documents.

Considering the packaging manual doesn't exist anymore, I don't see how
anyone could make that complaint.


Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

     ``BAM! Science triumphs again!'' 
                    -- http://www.angryflower.com/vegeta.gif

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