I would like to contribute to debianutils

Colin Watson cjwatson at ubuntu.com
Sat Jul 6 10:44:16 UTC 2019

On Thu, Jul 04, 2019 at 06:48:27PM +0200, Erik Gustafsson wrote:
> The "which" command is part of debianutils. On BSD and Mac, this
> command on Mac/BSD has a -s flag, which is basically, silent, and
> return 0 if program found in $PATH or 1 otherwise

I've only ever seen the convention of redirecting output to /dev/null,
which I would assume could also be done in a way that's compatible
between Debian and the BSDs.  An -s option seems like a reasonable
enough thing to have, though.

> The current version of "which" supplied with Debian is written in shellscript
> https://salsa.debian.org/debian/debianutils/blob/master/which

Yes, it's descended from a version I wrote many years ago. :-)  (I
haven't been responsible for maintaining it for a long time, though.)

> To make my Debian installation compatible with "which -s" in
> shellscripts I would like to contribute the -s flag to debianutils. I
> have already made a working implementation, which I am happy to
> improve on as needed. (attach with this email)

As general advice, almost nobody will ever want to review something sent
in the form of "here is a complete new version of the code".  The
baseline standard in free software development is to send patches
instead that express the difference between the current and proposed
versions, which were traditionally produced using "diff -u" but nowadays
are more usually produced by something like "git format-patch".

(In many cases, of course, this is all wrapped up in something like a
"pull request" or "merge request" or whatever individual sites call it,
where you push git commits to a branch somewhere and then fill in some
kind of form which asks the maintainer to merge stuff from your branch.
It's still useful to be familiar with working with patches, since that's
still what the maintainer will be looking at when deciding whether or
not to merge your changes.)

> How can I get started to contribute to debianutils? Should I have an account on
> https://salsa.debian.org/debian/debianutils ?

It would probably be best to create a Salsa account, fork that
repository, commit your changes, and send a merge request, yes.

You could also send a patch as a Debian bug report against debianutils,
which is done by sending an email in the right format to a special
address (see https://www.debian.org/Bugs/Reporting).

> Can someone else contribute this code for me, once I get it to reach a
> good quality level of code and documentation?

It's really best if you can make the contribution directly yourself.
Going through somebody else is possible but it's more cumbersome, since
it means that if the maintainer has any questions then they have to be
relayed through somebody else too.

> I found this email address by typing
> apt-cache show debianutils , in the Maintainer field

Ubuntu overrides the Maintainer address of most packages to this list to
avoid being responsible for too much noise sent to Debian maintainers
for packages that they didn't prepare.  However, in this case our
version of debianutils is an unmodified copy of the one in Debian, and
it would be very much better for this sort of change not to be specific
to Ubuntu, so for this sort of thing you should work directly with the
Debian maintainer.


Colin Watson                                       [cjwatson at ubuntu.com]

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