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Re: Scientific software packaging

Hello Yngve,

On 05/23/2011 04:42 PM, Yngve Inntjore Levinsen wrote:
> On Monday 23 May 2011 14.19.44 Steffen Möller wrote:
>> Hello,
>> On 05/23/2011 01:30 PM, Yngve Inntjore Levinsen wrote:
>>> On Monday 23 May 2011 12.29.15 Gürkan Sengün wrote:
>>>> That sounds fantastic, do you already have ready packages that I could test?
>>> You can test the ROOT packages which we distribute from CERN (unofficially) here:
>>> http://cern.ch/lcg-heppkg/debian/
>>> I assume Lifeng have used similar packaging scripts (and his efforts to get them into proper Debian channels are highly appreciated!).
>> I just read through those pages. You mention source and binary packages,
>> packaging for sid,
>> explained backports, reprepro, reads all very nice.
>> Have you considered sharing your 'debian' folders with the Debian science
>> repository? There is no need to upload all the program code. And you do not
>> even need to have anything ready to be uploaded. This way you would share
>> you insights on how to compile on the various platforms through sharing the
>> build instructions. This should also allow to work with Lifeng together
>> on those
>> packages and everyone would feel exceptionally well about those, even
>> though your support would remain not to be official. You can e.g. use
>> README.Debian for a disclaimer.
>> Best regards,
>> Steffen
> Hi Steffen,
> I did not start this project, Axel Naumann and Kevin B. McCarty did. Since Kevin left the game I took over the Geant4 packaging (according to best efforts of course, I cannot give guarantees on the quality of my packaging from my level of expertise). People are more than welcome to download packaging scripts and suggest improvements/report bugs of course. The reason we keep it internally at CERN is, as explained, because of licensing problems and similar.
> I have not considered sharing the debian folders with Debian Science. I currently do not have much time on my hand to work on this, and I would expect that some quality control would have to be done etc (actually the latest Geant4 patch does not compile at the moment and I did not have time to fix). You are all free to download the sources using "apt-get source" of course, and I will be happy to try to explain what I have done. I am unsure if I understand your question though, you mean to give you the link of the folders from the server, or is there some "formal" way to publish the packaging scripts without the source code? I have no objection to distributing the packaging scripts (the respective authors would have to agree first), but the sources like CLHEP and Geant4 have difficult licensing so from what I understand we cannot distribute the sources outside CERN. 
> Cheers,
> Yngve

my field is computational biology but once helped to get Christian's
ROOT packages into the distribution when I was visiting Copenhagen more
frequently. In the subversion repositories it is considered good style
to only publish the debian folder, no source code. That should be
retrieved via the instructions in the debian/watch file or the
get-orig-source target in debian/rules or from the information in the
debian/copyright file. That debian folder is commonly GPLed and easily
comaintained, though this may differ if CERN has some policy I am not
aware of when you started it.  With git, there is no technical
requirement but there it is common practice to indeed upload the source
code in a separate branch. I dislike that immensely, but nobody seems to
care about my aversion, so there are just a limited number of packages
that I co-maintain with git.

I would not mind apt-get sourcing and uploading the debian folders from
there. But this would make sense only when you also use them. The
quality does not matter for a start. Just say that it does not
build/run. If the community cares then it will be fixed with or for you.
If not, then not. I could talk you through the process of manually
building with the debian folder in subversion and/or on how to use
svn-buildpackage for some package that you feel more comfortable with. 
The redistribution of the binaries is a very different issue from the
sharing of packaging/build instructions. And to have only the latter for
some packages will still be helpful as an open invite to the community
to contribute. I blogged about this at

Many greetings


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