Patch systems in packages

Robert Collins robertc at
Thu Aug 21 00:51:57 BST 2008

On Wed, 2008-08-20 at 12:29 -0700, Steve Langasek wrote:

> >     Why?  Why should the Debian Maintainer care about the monolithic
> > patch as applied in Ubuntu (perhaps also cluttered by several
> > changelog entries about merges that have happened, or rebuilds).  Is
> > it not best practice to send those patches relevant to Debian to bugs
> > in the BTS, as separated patches?  If this is done, to whom is it
> > useful to track the patches independently, so long as the patches
> > remain easy to maintain?
> I think this is a misleading question:  it is /not/ easy to maintain patches
> that are jumbled together in a monolithic diff, because even if it's easy
> for the person who created the patches (which is likely to change over
> time), it's not necessarily easy for $random_other_ubuntu_developer who
> comes along afterwards.  Even the most innocuous-seeming of patches can
> become head-scratchers over time if they aren't accompanied by appropriate
> metadata (description, + some sort of bounding box saying which bits
> belong).

And yet, upstream development proceeds by editing a single huge
monolithic diff (NULL->BRANCH_TIP) :). 

The key difference IMO is that when you have a bunch of patches that
have not yet been reviewed, its likely that some will be accepted, and
some not - and its harder to detangle those two sets after the fact. But
making incremental changes is no harder with a monolithic patch than a
set of itemised patches - and in some respects a monolithic patch is

> So for *Ubuntu's* benefit, I believe our best practices should be to use
> some sort of patch management whenever patching upstream sources, not just a
> monolithic diff.  (Again, I think this can be either VCS feature branches or
> an in-package patch system, whichever is easier for the people doing the
> work.)


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