apt-get source changes for packages maintained in VCS

Reinhard Tartler siretart at ubuntu.com
Sun Aug 5 18:44:39 BST 2007

Scott Kitterman <ubuntu at kitterman.com> writes:

>> This is adressed by changing the XS-Vcs-Bzr field to pointing the
>> correct branch on launchpad. If you are patching an unmodified debian
>> source package, then the information is correct anyway.
> You make the assumption that for my purposes I am interested in something 
> different than the released code.  That is, IMO, the fundamental problem with 
> this change.  The user asked for source from a release and you think he 
> should have something different.

No, I do not think so.

> The information is correct, but not useful.  If I am fixing a bug in Ubuntu, I 
> need to start from the Ubuntu code base, not a Debian code base with unknown 
> differences.

I seem to have indeed problems understanding you, or at least, we seem
to miscommunicate. I say, if you intend to manage the changes in bzr on
launchpad for a debian derived package, you should change the XS-Vcs
tag. Given the case that it was formerly in svn on svn.debian.org, this
means that the XS-Vcs-Svn tag should be replaced by an appropriate
XS-Vcs-Bzr tag so that it points to the up-to-date branch containing the
actual changes plus any changes that have already been done to source.

After writing this, I think I understand now why we miscommunicate. We
actually have different semantics here. Traditionally, the debian source
package from which the binary was created is the authoritative source
for the binary. This is what 'apt-get source' is fetching.

Addtionally to that, it can be desireable to get the packaging branch,
which might or might not contain further updates to the packages. For
the case that it does contain updates (like e.g. a new upstream
version), the source does not match the binaries installed on the

This may or may not be a problem, depending on what the user of 'apt-get
source' intended. So I agree with you, the wording of the output of
'apt-get source' should make this difference clear.

> Perhaps what is needed is an apt-get vcs option that pulls the latest from the 
> relevant VCS and a notice (not a warning requiring confirmation) with apt-get 
> source so that people who want the repository source can get it without 
> disruption and the people who want the non-released updates can get them.

And now I think I understand and agree with you. I do consider that notice
about the VCS repository a very important piece of information. I think
that this confirmation should be configurable, however I'm undecided if
it should default to on or off.

Reinhard Tartler, KeyID 945348A4

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