Patch systems in packages

Justin Dugger jldugger at
Sun Aug 17 06:52:43 BST 2008

On Sat, Aug 16, 2008 at 11:49 PM, Nicolas Valcarcel
<nvalcarcel at> wrote:
> Hi!
>        Currently there is no policy about how to make changes in the packages,
> there are some good practices and a lot of developers try to use patch
> systems whenever they can and don't touch the source code outside
> debian/ directly, but that's still at the developer's discretion.
>        For that reason i wanted to start a discussion on the topic, to start
> working with debian on preparing the packages with a patch system, so we
> (and other derivatives) can make patches without the need of changing
> the packaging. Also i will suggest to the revu reviewers to ask the
> packagers to add a patch system on their packages.
>        What did you think about it? Any comments?
> 1.

I feel that Daniel's right about using the upstream patch system, it's
not something Ubuntu can set a unilateral policy on and then go to
Debian with.  Debian itself doesn't have a policy, so it's up to
individual maintainers to negotiate with.  What we could do is present
a suggestion and explain how it would work, so people can at least see
why it matters and might improve things.

Call me crazy, but I think this is the sort of thing Canonical funded
bzr for. deb-src is sort of a crappy revision control system already
-- using full source package in bzr might be a good first step towards
easier collaboration with Debian.  As long as bzr and git, svn etc can
communicate patches, it shouldn't matter if one side picks one
technology over another (well Canonical might care, but I don't yet).
Basically, rather than placing patch systems into the build rules, it
seems smarter to place them in universally understood tools.  It'd be
one less speedbump between Debian and upstream as well, if Debian were
on board.

But until Debian makes DVCS policy, it seems like an increased burden
to move packages away from patch systems and carry that delta.  The
good news is that many packages are already in some form of VCS -- the
bad news is a lot aren't.  My suggestion for now is to collaborate
with upstream for now -- ask the maintainer (in this case, the
maintainer team) what their preference is.  I know the Games Team has
SVN, but if memory serves, they wanted debian dirs only, but it looks
like the git hosting uses whole package branching.  So please, don't
use a patch system without asking Debian.

Justin Dugger

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