About forwarding bugs and patches to Debian and documenting your changes

Lucas Nussbaum lucas at lucas-nussbaum.net
Wed Jun 18 17:46:06 BST 2008

On 18/06/08 at 09:13 -0700, Jordan Mantha wrote:
> On Wed, Jun 18, 2008 at 12:44 AM, Lucas Nussbaum
> <lucas at lucas-nussbaum.net> wrote:
> > On 17/06/08 at 20:11 -0500, Nicolas Valcarcel wrote:
> >> On Tue, Jun 17, 2008 at 5:52 AM, Lucas Nussbaum <lucas at lucas-nussbaum.net>
> <snip>
> > Linking to bugs is a good thing, but many changes are done without any
> > bug in launchpad (or the bug wasn't linked in the changelog). So
> > answering the "But why are you making this change? Should I merge it in
> > the Debian package?" question requires a lot of effort. I'm not asking
> > you to write a ten-line rationale for the patch. Often, 1 to 3 lines
> > should be enough. And you could link to a wiki page to provide a more
> > detailed explanation of the problem.
> This of course assumes the person writing the changelog entry actually
> knows the answer to those questions. As you say, it requires a lot of
> effort on the part of the DD. I think it probably takes at least the
> same if not more effort on the part of the person writing the
> changelog. A fair amount of the time I don't think merger's really
> know why a change is needed or if it applies to Debian or not.
> While I appreciate your suggestions here and think it should
> definitely be the goal push things back to Debian, many people simply
> won't know if something applies to Debian specifically or not. I can
> think of several Debian bugs I've seen over the years where an Ubuntu
> contributor mistakenly thought an Ubuntu change applied to Debian when
> in fact it did not. The Debian maintainer is definitely in the best
> position to figure out if it applies them or not. They know the
> package and they know Debian. We should certainly try to give the
> information a Debian maintainer needs. But, for instance, I feel quite
> uncomfortable telling a Debian maintainer (who has maybe worked on
> package for years) they should take a patch in a package I've never
> touched before and am just propagating Ubuntu changes in.

I hope that mergers understand the changes they merge, and understand if
they are still necessary or not (for Ubuntu). If not, that confirms
that there's an issue with documentation of the changes.

But I agree with you that the Ubuntu Developer is not in the best
position to judge whether a change is applicable or not to Debian.
Something you could do without giving the impression that you are giving
orders to the Debian maintainer, is to clearly mark Ubuntu-specific
changes, when they are only useful for Ubuntu. A simplistic example
could be:
 * Replace iceweasel with firefox in Depends.
   Ubuntu-only: firefox is renamed iceweasel in Debian.

> This is why I agree with Scott Kitterman that bugs in Debian's BTS are
> a much better place to discuss the appropriateness of Ubuntu changes
> for Debian than in changelog entries.

Sure. But that's a different issue: Ubuntu developers are never going to
open a bug in the BTS for every minor change they make to a Debian
package. I agree that bugs should be preferred, but that's not a reason
not to improve the way you communicate through debian/changelog.
| Lucas Nussbaum
| lucas at lucas-nussbaum.net   http://www.lucas-nussbaum.net/ |
| jabber: lucas at nussbaum.fr             GPG: 1024D/023B3F4F |
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