About forwarding bugs and patches to Debian and documenting your changes

Lucas Nussbaum lucas at lucas-nussbaum.net
Tue Jun 17 11:52:09 BST 2008


As you might have read in [1], I worked on exporting more info about
packages in Ubuntu to the Debian infrastructure, specifically the Debian
PTS[2] and the Debian Developer Packages Overview[3].

[1] http://www.lucas-nussbaum.net/blog/?p=295
[2] http://packages.qa.debian.org/d/dpkg.html
[3] http://qa.debian.org/developer.php?login=packages@qa.debian.org&ubuntu=1

However, I'd like to use that opportunity to discuss a few points:

I know you are over-busy, etc., and that your #1 priority can't be to
push changes back to Debian.  But those changes should not replace
submitting bugs to the Debian BTS, like the patches on patches.u.c
should not replace submitting patches to the BTS. Most Debian Developers
will probably only rarely have a look at the bugs in LP. If I hear
Ubuntu Developers saying "but there was no need to report it to Debian,
you already should have known about it since there was a link on
PTS/DDPO!", I will strongly regret pushing that change.

Secondly, you generally could improve a lot at documenting your changes.
If you put more effort on properly documenting what you change in your
packages, it would allow Debian developers to understand why you made a
specific change, and they would be a lot more likely to merge the change
in the Debian package (which means less work for you during the next
merge). If a DD can't figure out why you made a change, it's likely that
he won't ask you, and will just ignore the change.

It would be great if, in addition to listing the remaining changes in
the last changelog entry, you could also list for each change:
- the URL of the corresponding Ubuntu bug (if any)
- the URL of the corresponding upstream bug (if any)
- the URL of the corresponding Debian bug (if any)
- a summary of the changes (pointing to URLs explaining the context of
  the change, if possible/needed)
- whether the change is Ubuntu-specific, or should be merged upstream
  or in Debian (with a rationale if it's Ubuntu-specific)

There's a wiki page on
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UbuntuDevelopment/PatchTaggingGuidelines about
basically the same thing (it documents the changes in the patches, which
is not suitable if the changes are made directly in the source, without
using a patch system), but that policy doesn't seem to be in widespread
use, unfortunately.

Thank you,
| Lucas Nussbaum
| lucas at lucas-nussbaum.net   http://www.lucas-nussbaum.net/ |
| jabber: lucas at nussbaum.fr             GPG: 1024D/023B3F4F |
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