Patch systems in packages

Phillip Susi psusi at
Tue Aug 19 21:34:29 BST 2008

Reinhard Tartler wrote:
>> I think our job as downstreams is to provide patches to Debian, not
>> tell them how to maintain their packages.
> Excatly.
> Please note that adding a patch system to a package that previously
> didn't adds additional noise in the debdiff. So please, don't.
> (well, perhaps debdiff could be taught somehow to handle patch systems
> more sensibly, which would alleviate the issue here)

I have to disagree.  If you are applying patches you must use a patch 
system to comply with the debian packaging guidelines ( otherwise you 
modify the .orig.tar.gz and you shouldn't be doing that ).  If you run 
into a package that does not already have some kind of patch system 
there are 2 possibilities:

1)  The package has never needed to be patched before
2)  The package has been patched by directly modifying the original 
upstream files, which is a big no-no

In the second case, the package should be fixed and the upstream debian 
maintainer notified and asked to repair their broken package as well.

In the first case, if you are going to start patching you need to use 
one of the patch systems to do it.  Ideally you would want to coordinate 
with the debian package maintainer to use whichever patch system he 
prefers so he will accept the diff adding the patch and the patch 
system.  Practically speaking though, it can take weeks, months, or 
sometimes years to get a debian developer to pay attention to your 
patch, so really you just want to go ahead and diverge by adding a patch 
system, try to get it added to debian, and if the debian maintainer ever 
manages to add the patch, even if he uses a different patch system, you 
can just drop the ubuntu changes when merging from debian.

Sure, you will have to manually merge debian updates until they accept 
the patch, but using the patch system in the first place makes this as 
simple as grabbing the debian package, inserting the patch system again, 
and copying over the patch file from the last ubuntu package.

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