Being nice to testers - mandating debug packages

David Nielsen gnomeuser at
Fri Jan 13 15:53:53 GMT 2006

Hi list

For a while now I've been using Ubuntu as a development branch tester
and coming from Fedora the single biggest annoyance with Ubuntu is that
whereas Fedora offers -debuginfo packages for every single package in
the supported repos (Core and Extra), Ubuntu does not seem to provide
this convinent feature as a general rule.

Instead testers are asked in most cases to recompile the application and
needed libraries in an almost painfully Gentoo like fasion - although
easy to manage this takes time and personally all I have to work with is
a 1600+ Athlon-XP when there's a crasher bug in something big like
Firefox or Evolution I, personally, tend to try to avoid filing them
because both those applications take more than an hour to compile.

The simple advantages of mandating that the build system produce these
split out -dbg packages would be:
1) Easing the testers task by deducing the required effort in filing a
bug, makes it less intimidating for new bugfilers to get into the trade.
2) Simplifying the developers job as they no longer have to offer to
provide debug builds instead they can just referer to the matching -dbg
3) It would, probably, also save bandwidth as the user would not have to
apt-get all the development packages and since one forgets to clean
these out it tends to amount to some considerable amounts of data - -dbg
packages would probably be lighter on bandwidth on the whole.
4) It would save endless amounts of time otherwise wasted on pointless
5) It would fix the absolutely braindead behaviour apt-get is displaying
where it wants to overwrite the debug package you just spend an hour
6) The tester would avoid situations where apt-build fails to build the
package for some reason (this does happen, though rarely).

The cons to this would be:
1) Repo would take up more mirror space - but hey harddrives are cheap
2) Buildsystem would take more time
3) We would not get the benefits of compiling with -O0 rather than stock
settings - I believe they are mainly -O2, in terms of optimizations that
can affect traces. 

For cases affected adversely by 3, we would have to request the bugfiler
to recompile as is the current standard but I'm currently unsure how
many cases this is really required and if it's enough of a blocker to
continue the current fasion.

Given that this is testing a development release, I would see no issue
with actually forcing the install of matching -dbg packages once the
development branch is opened. As long as the cycle start off with a
warning that Ubuntu will be slower and take up more space this way but
it eases development and testing. The debug symbols would of course be
removed late in the development cycle in preparation for the release.

Kind regards
David Nielsen

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