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This chapter contains information related to creating, uploading, maintaining, and porting packages.
If you want to create a new package for the Debian distribution, you should
first check the
and Prospective Packages (WNPP) list. Checking the WNPP list
ensures that no one is already working on packaging that software, and that
effort is not duplicated. Read the
WNPP web pages for more
Assuming no one else is already working on your prospective package, you must
then submit a bug report (Bug
reporting, Section 7.1) against the pseudo-package
describing your plan to create a new package, including, but not limiting
yourself to, a description of the package, the license of the prospective
package, and the current URL where it can be downloaded from.
You should set the subject of the bug to ``ITP: foo -- short
description'', substituting the name of the new package for
foo. The severity of the bug report must be set to
wishlist. If you feel it's necessary, send a copy to
by putting the address in the X-Debbugs-CC: header of the message
(no, don't use CC:, because that way the message's subject won't
indicate the bug number).
Please include a Closes: bug#nnnnn entry in the changelog of the new package in order for the bug report to be automatically closed once the new package is installed in the archive (see When bugs are closed by new uploads, Section 5.8.4).
When closing security bugs include CVE numbers as well as the "Closes: #nnnnn". This is useful for the security team to track vulnerabilities. If an upload is made to fix the bug before the advisory ID is known, it is encouraged to modify the historical changelog entry with the next upload. Even in this case, please include all available pointers to background information in the original changelog entry.
There are a number of reasons why we ask maintainers to announce their intentions:
It helps the (potentially new) maintainer to tap into the experience of people on the list, and lets them know if anyone else is working on it already.
It lets other people thinking about working on the package know that there already is a volunteer, so efforts may be shared.
It lets the rest of the maintainers know more about the package than the one line description and the usual changelog entry ``Initial release'' that gets posted to debian-devel-changes.
It is helpful to the people who live off unstable (and form our first line of testers). We should encourage these people.
The announcements give maintainers and other interested parties a better feel of what is going on, and what is new, in the project.
for common rejection reasons for a new package.
Changes that you make to the package need to be recorded in the
debian/changelog. These changes should provide a concise
description of what was changed, why (if it's in doubt), and note if any bugs
were closed. They also record when the package was completed. This file will
be installed in
/usr/share/doc/package/changelog.gz for native
debian/changelog file conforms to a certain structure, with a
number of different fields. One field of note, the distribution, is
described in Picking a distribution, Section 5.5.
More information about the structure of this file can be found in the Debian
Policy section titled "
Changelog entries can be used to automatically close Debian bugs when the package is installed into the archive. See When bugs are closed by new uploads, Section 5.8.4.
It is conventional that the changelog entry of a package that contains a new upstream version of the software looks like this:
* new upstream version
There are tools to help you create entries and finalize the
changelog for release — see
devscripts, Section A.6.1
See also Best
debian/changelog, Section 6.3.
Before you upload your package, you should do basic testing on it. At a minimum, you should try the following activities (you'll need to have an older version of the same Debian package around):
Install the package and make sure the software works, or upgrade the package from an older version to your new version if a Debian package for it already exists.
lintian over the package. You can run
follows: lintian -v package-version.changes. This will
check the source package as well as the binary package. If you don't
understand the output that
lintian generates, try adding the
-i switch, which will cause
lintian to output a very
verbose description of the problem.
Normally, a package should not be uploaded if it causes lintian to emit errors (they will start with E).
For more information on
lintian, Section A.2.1.
Section A.2.3 to analyze changes from an older version, if one exists.
Downgrade the package to the previous version (if one exists) — this
Remove the package, then reinstall it.
Copy the source package in a different directory and try unpacking it and rebuilding it. This tests if the package relies on existing files outside of it, or if it relies on permissions being preserved on the files shipped inside the .diff.gz file.
There are two types of Debian source packages:
the so-called native packages, where there is no distinction between the original sources and the patches applied for Debian
the (more common) packages where there's an original source tarball file accompanied by another file that contains the patches applied for Debian
For the native packages, the source package includes a Debian source control file (.dsc) and the source tarball (.tar.gz). A source package of a non-native package includes a Debian source control file, the original source tarball (.orig.tar.gz) and the Debian patches (.diff.gz).
Whether a package is native or not is determined when it is built by
dpkg-buildpackage(1). The rest of this section relates only to
The first time a version is uploaded which corresponds to a particular upstream
version, the original source tar file should be uploaded and included in the
.changes file. Subsequently, this very same tar file should be
used to build the new diffs and
.dsc files, and will not need to
will include the original source tar file if and only if the Debian revision
part of the source version number is 0 or 1, indicating a new upstream version.
This behavior may be modified by using -sa to always include it or
-sd to always leave it out.
If no original source is included in the upload, the original source tar-file
dpkg-source when constructing the
and diff to be uploaded must be byte-for-byte identical with the one
already in the archive.
Please notice that, in non-native packages, permissions on files that are not present in the .orig.tar.gz will not be preserved, as diff does not store file permissions in the patch.
Each upload needs to specify which distribution the package is intended for.
The package build process extracts this information from the first line of the
debian/changelog file and places it in the
Distribution field of the .changes file.
There are several possible values for this field: `stable', `unstable', `testing-proposed-updates' and `experimental'. Normally, packages are uploaded into unstable.
Actually, there are two other possible distributions: `stable-security' and `testing-security', but read Handling security-related bugs, Section 5.8.5 for more information on those.
It is not possible to upload a package into several distributions at the same time.
Uploading to stable means that the package will transfered to the
p-u-new-queue for review by the stable release managers, and if
approved will be installed in
stable-proposed-updates directory of
the Debian archive. From there, it will be included in stable with
the next point release.
Extra care should be taken when uploading to stable. Basically, a package should only be uploaded to stable if one of the following happens:
a truly critical functionality problem
the package becomes uninstallable
a released architecture lacks the package
In the past, uploads to stable were used to address security problems
as well. However, this practice is deprecated, as uploads used for Debian
security advisories are automatically copied to the appropriate
proposed-updates archive when the advisory is released. See Handling security-related bugs, Section 5.8.5 for
detailed information on handling security problems.
Changing anything else in the package that isn't important is discouraged, because even trivial fixes can cause bugs later on.
Packages uploaded to stable need to be compiled on systems running stable, so that their dependencies are limited to the libraries (and other packages) available in stable; for example, a package uploaded to stable that depends on a library package that only exists in unstable will be rejected. Making changes to dependencies of other packages (by messing with Provides or shlibs files), possibly making those other packages uninstallable, is strongly discouraged.
The Release Team (which can be reached at
will regularly evaluate the uploads To stable-proposed-updates and
decide if your package can be included in stable. Please be clear
(and verbose, if necessary) in your changelog entries for uploads to
stable, because otherwise the package won't be considered for
It's best practice to speak with the stable release manager before uploading to stable/stable-proposed-updates, so that the uploaded package fits the needs of the next point release.
Please see the information in the testing section for details.
To upload a package, you should upload the files (including the signed changes
and dsc-file) with anonymous ftp to
ftp-master.debian.org in the
To get the files processed there, they need to be signed with a key in the
Please note that you should transfer the changes file last. Otherwise, your upload may be rejected because the archive maintenance software will parse the changes file and see that not all files have been uploaded.
You may also find the Debian packages
dupload, Section A.5.1 or
dput, Section A.5.2 useful when
uploading packages. These handy programs help automate the process of
uploading packages into Debian.
For removing packages, please see the README file in that ftp directory, and
the Debian package
Delayed uploads are done for the moment via the delayed queue at gluck. The
is uploaded multiple times per day to ftp-master.
With a fairly recent dput, this section
[tfheen_delayed] method = scp fqdn = gluck.debian.org incoming = ~tfheen
in ~/.dput.cf should work fine for uploading to the DELAYED queue.
Note: Since this upload queue goes to ftp-master, the prescription found in Uploading to ftp-master, Section 5.6.1 applies here as well.
Do NOT upload a package to the security upload queue (oldstable-security, stable-security, etc.) without prior authorization from the security team. If the package does not exactly meet the team's requirements, it will cause many problems and delays in dealing with the unwanted upload. For details, please see section Handling security-related bugs, Section 5.8.5.
The scp queues on ftp-master, and security are mostly unusable due to the login restrictions on those hosts.
The anonymous queues on ftp.uni-erlangen.de and ftp.uk.debian.org are currently down. Work is underway to resurrect them.
The queues on master.debian.org, samosa.debian.org, master.debian.or.jp, and ftp.chiark.greenend.org.uk are down permanently, and will not be resurrected. The queue in Japan will be replaced with a new queue on hp.debian.or.jp some day.
For the time being, the anonymous ftp queue on auric.debian.org (the former ftp-master) works, but it is deprecated and will be removed at some point in the future.
The Debian archive maintainers are responsible for handling package uploads.
For the most part, uploads are automatically handled on a daily basis by the
archive maintenance tools,
katie. Specifically, updates to
existing packages to the `unstable' distribution are handled automatically. In
other cases, notably new packages, placing the uploaded package into the
distribution is handled manually. When uploads are handled manually, the
change to the archive may take up to a month to occur. Please be patient.
In any case, you will receive an email notification indicating that the package has been added to the archive, which also indicates which bugs will be closed by the upload. Please examine this notification carefully, checking if any bugs you meant to close didn't get triggered.
The installation notification also includes information on what section the package was inserted into. If there is a disparity, you will receive a separate email notifying you of that. Read on below.
Note that if you upload via queues, the queue daemon software will also send you a notification by email.
debian/control file's Section and
Priority fields do not actually specify where the file will be
placed in the archive, nor its priority. In order to retain the overall
integrity of the archive, it is the archive maintainers who have control over
these fields. The values in the
debian/control file are actually
The archive maintainers keep track of the canonical sections and priorities for
packages in the override file. If there is a disparity between the
override file and the package's fields as indicated in
debian/control, then you will receive an email noting the
divergence when the package is installed into the archive. You can either
debian/control file for your next upload, or else you
may wish to make a change in the override file.
To alter the actual section that a package is put in, you need to first make
sure that the
debian/control file in your package is accurate.
Next, send an email
or submit a bug against
ftp.debian.org requesting that the section
or priority for your package be changed from the old section or priority to the
new one. Be sure to explain your reasoning.
For more information about override files, see
Note that the Section field describes both the section as well as
the subsection, which are described in Sections, Section 4.6.1. If
the section is "main", it should be omitted. The list of allowable
subsections can be found in
Every developer has to be able to work with the Debian
bug tracking system. This
includes knowing how to file bug reports properly (see Bug reporting, Section 7.1),
how to update them and reorder them, and how to process and close them.
The bug tracking system's features are described in the
BTS documentation for
developers. This includes closing bugs, sending followup messages,
assigning severities and tags, marking bugs as forwarded, and other issues.
Operations such as reassigning bugs to other packages, merging separate bug
reports about the same issue, or reopening bugs when they are prematurely
closed, are handled using the so-called control mail server. All of the
commands available on this server are described in the
BTS control server
If you want to be a good maintainer, you should periodically check the
Debian bug tracking system (BTS)
for your packages. The BTS contains all the open bugs against your packages.
You can check them by browsing this page:
Maintainers interact with the BTS via email addresses at
bugs.debian.org. Documentation on available commands can be found
if you have installed the
doc-debian package, you can look at the
Some find it useful to get periodic reports on open bugs. You can add a cron job such as the following if you want to get a weekly email outlining all the open bugs against your packages:
# ask for weekly reports of bugs in my packages 0 17 * * fri echo "index maint address" | mail email@example.com
Replace address with your official Debian maintainer address.
When responding to bugs, make sure that any discussion you have about bugs is
sent both to the original submitter of the bug, and to the bug itself (e.g.,
you're writing a new mail and you don't remember the submitter email address,
you can use the
email to contact the submitter and to record your mail within the bug
log (that means you don't need to send a copy of the mail to
If you get a bug which mentions "FTBFS", this means "Fails to build from source". Porters frequently use this acronym.
Once you've dealt with a bug report (e.g. fixed it), mark it as done
(close it) by sending an explanation message to
you're fixing a bug by changing and uploading the package, you can automate bug
closing as described in When bugs are closed by new
uploads, Section 5.8.4.
You should never close bugs via the bug server close
command sent to
you do so, the original submitter will not receive any information about why
the bug was closed.
As a package maintainer, you will often find bugs in other packages or have
bugs reported against your packages which are actually bugs in other packages.
The bug tracking system's features are described in the
BTS documentation for Debian
developers. Operations such as reassigning, merging, and tagging
bug reports are described in the
BTS control server
documentation. This section contains some guidelines for managing
your own bugs, based on the collective Debian developer experience.
Filing bugs for problems that you find in other packages is one of the "civic obligations" of maintainership, see Bug reporting, Section 7.1 for details. However, handling the bugs in your own packages is even more important.
Here's a list of steps that you may follow to handle a bug report:
Decide whether the report corresponds to a real bug or not. Sometimes users are just calling a program in the wrong way because they haven't read the documentation. If you diagnose this, just close the bug with enough information to let the user correct their problem (give pointers to the good documentation and so on). If the same report comes up again and again you may ask yourself if the documentation is good enough or if the program shouldn't detect its misuse in order to give an informative error message. This is an issue that may need to be brought up with the upstream author.
If the bug submitter disagrees with your decision to close the bug, they may
reopen it until you find an agreement on how to handle it. If you don't find
any, you may want to tag the bug wontfix to let people know that
the bug exists but that it won't be corrected. If this situation is
unacceptable, you (or the submitter) may want to require a decision of the
technical committee by reassigning the bug to
tech-ctte (you may
use the clone command of the BTS if you wish to keep it reported against your
package). Before doing so, please read the
If the bug is real but it's caused by another package, just reassign the bug to
the right package. If you don't know which package it should be reassigned to,
you should ask for help on IRC or on
Please make sure that the maintainer(s) of the package the bug is reassigned to
know why you reassigned it.
Sometimes you also have to adjust the severity of the bug so that it matches our definition of the severity. That's because people tend to inflate the severity of bugs to make sure their bugs are fixed quickly. Some bugs may even be dropped to wishlist severity when the requested change is just cosmetic.
If the bug is real but the same problem has already been reported by someone else, then the two relevant bug reports should be merged into one using the merge command of the BTS. In this way, when the bug is fixed, all of the submitters will be informed of this. (Note, however, that emails sent to one bug report's submitter won't automatically be sent to the other report's submitter.) For more details on the technicalities of the merge command and its relative, the unmerge command, see the BTS control server documentation.
The bug submitter may have forgotten to provide some information, in which case you have to ask them for the required information. You may use the moreinfo tag to mark the bug as such. Moreover if you can't reproduce the bug, you tag it unreproducible. Anyone who can reproduce the bug is then invited to provide more information on how to reproduce it. After a few months, if this information has not been sent by someone, the bug may be closed.
If the bug is related to the packaging, you just fix it. If you are not able
to fix it yourself, then tag the bug as help. You can also ask
for help on
If it's an upstream problem, you have to forward it to the upstream author.
Forwarding a bug is not enough, you have to check at each release if the bug
has been fixed or not. If it has, you just close it, otherwise you have to
remind the author about it. If you have the required skills you can prepare a
patch that fixes the bug and send it to the author at the same time. Make sure
to send the patch to the BTS and to tag the bug as patch.
If you have fixed a bug in your local copy, or if a fix has been committed to
the CVS repository, you may tag the bug as pending to let people
know that the bug is corrected and that it will be closed with the next upload
(add the closes: in the
changelog). This is
particularly useful if you are several developers working on the same package.
Once a corrected package is available in the unstable distribution, you can close the bug. This can be done automatically, read When bugs are closed by new uploads, Section 5.8.4.
As bugs and problems are fixed in your packages, it is your responsibility as the package maintainer to close these bugs. However, you should not close a bug until the package which fixes the bug has been accepted into the Debian archive. Therefore, once you get notification that your updated package has been installed into the archive, you can and should close the bug in the BTS. Also, the bug should be closed with the correct version.
However, it's possible to avoid having to manually close bugs after the upload
— just list the fixed bugs in your
following a certain syntax, and the archive maintenance software will close the
bugs for you. For example:
acme-cannon (3.1415) unstable; urgency=low * Frobbed with options (closes: Bug#98339) * Added safety to prevent operator dismemberment, closes: bug#98765, bug#98713, #98714. * Added man page. Closes: #98725.
Technically speaking, the following Perl regular expression describes how bug closing changelogs are identified:
We prefer the closes: #XXX syntax, as it is the most
concise entry and the easiest to integrate with the text of the
changelog. Unless specified different by the -v-switch
dpkg-buildpackage, only the bugs closed in the most recent
changelog entry are closed (basically, exactly the bugs mentioned in the
changelog-part in the
.changes file are closed).
Historically, uploads identified as Non-maintainer upload (NMU) were tagged fixed instead of being closed, but that practice was ceased with the advent of version-tracking. The same applied to the tag fixed-in-experimental.
If you happen to mistype a bug number or forget a bug in the changelog entries,
don't hesitate to undo any damage the error caused. To reopen wrongly closed
bugs, send a reopen XXX command to the bug tracking
system's control address,
close any remaining bugs that were fixed by your upload, email the
.changes file to
where XXX is the bug number, and put "Version: YYY" and an
empty line as the first two lines of the body of the email, where
YYY is the first version where the bug has been fixed.
Bear in mind that it is not obligatory to close bugs using the changelog as
described above. If you simply want to close bugs that don't have anything to
do with an upload you made, do it by emailing an explanation to
not close bugs in the changelog entry of a version if the
changes in that version of the package don't have any bearing on the bug.
For general information on how to write your changelog entries, see Best practices
debian/changelog, Section 6.3.
Due to their sensitive nature, security-related bugs must be handled carefully. The Debian Security Team exists to coordinate this activity, keeping track of outstanding security problems, helping maintainers with security problems or fixing them themselves, sending security advisories, and maintaining security.debian.org.
When you become aware of a security-related bug in a Debian package, whether or
not you are the maintainer, collect pertinent information about the problem,
and promptly contact the security team at
soon as possible. DO NOT UPLOAD any packages for stable; the
security team will do that. Useful information includes, for example:
Which versions of the package are known to be affected by the bug. Check each version that is present in a supported Debian release, as well as testing and unstable.
The nature of the fix, if any is available (patches are especially helpful)
Any fixed packages that you have prepared yourself (send only the .diff.gz and .dsc files and read Preparing packages to address security issues, Section 126.96.36.199 first)
Any assistance you can provide to help with testing (exploits, regression testing, etc.)
Any information needed for the advisory (see Security Advisories, Section 188.8.131.52)
Unlike most other activities within Debian, information about security issues must sometimes be kept private for a time. This allows software distributors to coordinate their disclosure in order to minimize their users' exposure. Whether this is the case depends on the nature of the problem and corresponding fix, and whether it is already a matter of public knowledge.
There are several ways developers can learn of a security problem:
they notice it on a public forum (mailing list, web site, etc.)
someone files a bug report
someone informs them via private email
In the first two cases, the information is public and it is important to have a fix as soon as possible. In the last case, however, it might not be public information. In that case there are a few possible options for dealing with the problem:
If the security exposure is minor, there is sometimes no need to keep the problem a secret and a fix should be made and released.
If the problem is severe, it is preferable to share the information with other vendors and coordinate a release. The security team keeps in contact with the various organizations and individuals and can take care of that.
In all cases if the person who reports the problem asks that it not be disclosed, such requests should be honored, with the obvious exception of informing the security team in order that a fix may be produced for a stable release of Debian. When sending confidential information to the security team, be sure to mention this fact.
Please note that if secrecy is needed you may not upload a fix to unstable (or anywhere else, such as a public CVS repository). It is not sufficient to obfuscate the details of the change, as the code itself is public, and can (and will) be examined by the general public.
There are two reasons for releasing information even though secrecy is requested: the problem has been known for a while, or the problem or exploit has become public.
Security advisories are only issued for the current, released stable
distribution, and not for testing or unstable. When released,
advisories are sent to the
mailing list and posted on
security web page. Security advisories are written and posted by
the security team. However they certainly do not mind if a maintainer can
supply some of the information for them, or write part of the text.
Information that should be in an advisory includes:
A description of the problem and its scope, including:
The type of problem (privilege escalation, denial of service, etc.)
What privileges may be gained, and by whom (if any)
How it can be exploited
Whether it is remotely or locally exploitable
How the problem was fixed
This information allows users to assess the threat to their systems.
Version numbers of affected packages
Version numbers of fixed packages
Information on where to obtain the updated packages (usually from the Debian security archive)
References to upstream advisories,
CVE identifiers, and any other
information useful in cross-referencing the vulnerability
One way that you can assist the security team in their duties is to provide them with fixed packages suitable for a security advisory for the stable Debian release.
When an update is made to the stable release, care must be taken to avoid changing system behavior or introducing new bugs. In order to do this, make as few changes as possible to fix the bug. Users and administrators rely on the exact behavior of a release once it is made, so any change that is made might break someone's system. This is especially true of libraries: make sure you never change the API or ABI, no matter how small the change.
This means that moving to a new upstream version is not a good solution. Instead, the relevant changes should be back-ported to the version present in the current stable Debian release. Generally, upstream maintainers are willing to help if needed. If not, the Debian security team may be able to help.
In some cases, it is not possible to back-port a security fix, for example when large amounts of source code need to be modified or rewritten. If this happens, it may be necessary to move to a new upstream version. However, this is only done in extreme situations, and you must always coordinate that with the security team beforehand.
Related to this is another important guideline: always test your changes. If you have an exploit available, try it and see if it indeed succeeds on the unpatched package and fails on the fixed package. Test other, normal actions as well, as sometimes a security fix can break seemingly unrelated features in subtle ways.
Do NOT include any changes in your package which are not directly related to fixing the vulnerability. These will only need to be reverted, and this wastes time. If there are other bugs in your package that you would like to fix, make an upload to proposed-updates in the usual way, after the security advisory is issued. The security update mechanism is not a means for introducing changes to your package which would otherwise be rejected from the stable release, so please do not attempt to do this.
Review and test your changes as much as possible. Check the differences from
the previous version repeatedly (
interdiff from the
patchutils package and
devscripts are useful tools for this, see
debdiff, Section A.2.3).
Be sure to verify the following items:
Target the right distribution in your
stable this is stable-security and for testing this is
testing-security, and for the previous stable release, this is
oldstable-security. Do not target
distribution-proposed-updates or stable!
The upload should have urgency=high.
Make descriptive, meaningful changelog entries. Others will rely on them to determine whether a particular bug was fixed. Always include an external reference, preferably a CVE identifier, so that it can be cross-referenced. Include the same information in the changelog for unstable, so that it is clear that the same bug was fixed, as this is very helpful when verifying that the bug is fixed in the next stable release. If a CVE identifier has not yet been assigned, the security team will request one so that it can be included in the package and in the advisory.
Make sure the version number is proper. It must be greater than the current package, but less than package versions in later distributions. If in doubt, test it with dpkg --compare-versions. Be careful not to re-use a version number that you have already used for a previous upload. For testing, there must be a higher version in unstable. If there is none yet (for example, if testing and unstable have the same version) you must upload a new version to unstable first.
Do not make source-only uploads if your package has any binary-all packages (do
not use the -S option to
buildd infrastructure will not build those. This point applies to
normal package uploads as well.
Unless the upstream source has been uploaded to security.debian.org before (by a previous security update), build the upload with full upstream source (dpkg-buildpackage -sa). If there has been a previous upload to security.debian.org with the same upstream version, you may upload without upstream source (dpkg-buildpackage -sd).
Be sure to use the exact same
*.orig.tar.gz as used in the normal
archive, otherwise it is not possible to move the security fix into the main
Build the package on a clean system which only has packages installed from the
distribution you are building for. If you do not have such a system yourself,
you can use a debian.org machine (see Debian machines, Section 4.4)
or setup a chroot (see
pbuilder, Section A.4.3 and
Do NOT upload a package to the security upload queue (oldstable-security, stable-security, etc.) without prior authorization from the security team. If the package does not exactly meet the team's requirements, it will cause many problems and delays in dealing with the unwanted upload.
Do NOT upload your fix to proposed-updates without coordinating with the security team. Packages from security.debian.org will be copied into the proposed-updates directory automatically. If a package with the same or a higher version number is already installed into the archive, the security update will be rejected by the archive system. That way, the stable distribution will end up without a security update for this package instead.
Once you have created and tested the new package and it has been approved by the security team, it needs to be uploaded so that it can be installed in the archives. For security uploads, the place to upload to is ftp://security-master.debian.org/pub/SecurityUploadQueue/ .
Once an upload to the security queue has been accepted, the package will automatically be rebuilt for all architectures and stored for verification by the security team.
Uploads which are waiting for acceptance or verification are only accessible by the security team. This is necessary since there might be fixes for security problems that cannot be disclosed yet.
If a member of the security team accepts a package, it will be installed on security.debian.org as well as proposed for the proper distribution-proposed-updates on ftp-master.
Some archive manipulation operations are not automated in the Debian upload process. These procedures should be manually followed by maintainers. This chapter gives guidelines on what to do in these cases.
Sometimes a package will change its section. For instance, a package from the `non-free' section might be GPL'd in a later version, in which case the package should be moved to `main' or `contrib'.
If you need to change the section for one of your packages, change the package
control information to place the package in the desired section, and re-upload
the package (see the
Debian Policy Manual
for details). You must ensure that you include the
in your upload (even if you are not uploading a new upstream version), or it
will not appear in the new section together with the rest of the package. If
your new section is valid, it will be moved automatically. If it does not,
then contact the ftpmasters in order to understand what happened.
If, on the other hand, you need to change the subsection of one of your packages (e.g., ``devel'', ``admin''), the procedure is slightly different. Correct the subsection as found in the control file of the package, and re-upload that. Also, you'll need to get the override file updated, as described in Specifying the package section, subsection and priority, Section 5.7.
If for some reason you want to completely remove a package (say, if it is an old compatibility library which is no longer required), you need to file a bug against ftp.debian.org asking that the package be removed; as all bugs, this bug should normally have normal severity. Make sure you indicate which distribution the package should be removed from. Normally, you can only have packages removed from unstable and experimental. Packages are not removed from testing directly. Rather, they will be removed automatically after the package has been removed from unstable and no package in testing depends on it.
There is one exception when an explicit removal request is not necessary: If a (source or binary) package is an orphan, it will be removed semi-automatically. For a binary-package, this means if there is no longer any source package producing this binary package; if the binary package is just no longer produced on some architectures, a removal request is still necessary. For a source-package, this means that all binary packages it refers to have been taken over by another source package.
In your removal request, you have to detail the reasons justifying the request. This is to avoid unwanted removals and to keep a trace of why a package has been removed. For example, you can provide the name of the package that supersedes the one to be removed.
Usually you only ask for the removal of a package maintained by yourself. If you want to remove another package, you have to get the approval of its maintainer.
Further information relating to these and other package removal related topics
may be found at
If in doubt concerning whether a package is disposable, email
asking for opinions. Also of interest is the
apt package. When invoked as apt-cache showpkg
package, the program will show details for
package, including reverse depends. Other useful programs include
grep-dctrl. Removal of orphaned packages is discussed on
Once the package has been removed, the package's bugs should be handled. They should either be reassigned to another package in the case where the actual code has evolved into another package (e.g. libfoo12 was removed because libfoo13 supersedes it) or closed if the software is simply no longer part of Debian.
In the past, it was possible to remove packages from
However, with the introduction of the new incoming system, this is no longer
possible. Instead, you have to upload a new revision of your package with a
higher version than the package you want to replace. Both versions will be
installed in the archive but only the higher version will actually be available
in unstable since the previous version will immediately be replaced by
the higher. However, if you do proper testing of your packages, the need to
replace a package should not occur too often anyway.
When you make a mistake naming your package, you should follow a two-step
process to rename it. First, set your
debian/control file to
replace and conflict with the obsolete name of the package (see the
Debian Policy Manual
for details). Once you've uploaded the package and the package has moved into
the archive, file a bug against ftp.debian.org asking to remove
the package with the obsolete name. Do not forget to properly reassign the
package's bugs at the same time.
At other times, you may make a mistake in constructing your package and wish to
replace it. The only way to do this is to increase the version number and
upload a new version. The old version will be expired in the usual manner.
Note that this applies to each part of your package, including the sources: if
you wish to replace the upstream source tarball of your package, you will need
to upload it with a different version. An easy possibility is to replace
This restriction gives each file on the ftp site a unique name, which helps to
ensure consistency across the mirror network.
If you can no longer maintain a package, you need to inform others, and see
that the package is marked as orphaned. You should set the package maintainer
to Debian QA Group <firstname.lastname@example.org> and submit a bug
report against the pseudo package
wnpp. The bug report should be
titled O: package -- short description
indicating that the package is now orphaned. The severity of the bug should be
set to normal; if the package has a priority of standard or higher, it
should be set to important. If you feel it's necessary, send a copy to
by putting the address in the X-Debbugs-CC: header of the message (no, don't
use CC:, because that way the message's subject won't indicate the bug number).
If you just intend to give the package away, but you can keep maintainership
for the moment, then you should instead submit a bug against
and title it RFA: package -- short
description. RFA stands for Request For
More information is on the
WNPP web pages.
A list of packages in need of a new maintainer is available in the
Work-Needing and Prospective Packages
list (WNPP). If you wish to take over maintenance of any of the
packages listed in the WNPP, please take a look at the aforementioned page for
information and procedures.
It is not OK to simply take over a package that you feel is neglected — that would be package hijacking. You can, of course, contact the current maintainer and ask them if you may take over the package. If you have reason to believe a maintainer has gone AWOL (absent without leave), see Dealing with inactive and/or unreachable maintainers, Section 7.4.
Generally, you may not take over the package without the assent of the current
maintainer. Even if they ignore you, that is still not grounds to take over a
package. Complaints about maintainers should be brought up on the developers'
mailing list. If the discussion doesn't end with a positive conclusion, and
the issue is of a technical nature, consider bringing it to the attention of
the technical committee (see the
technical committee web
page for more information).
If you take over an old package, you probably want to be listed as the package's official maintainer in the bug system. This will happen automatically once you upload a new version with an updated Maintainer: field, although it can take a few hours after the upload is done. If you do not expect to upload a new version for a while, you can use The Package Tracking System, Section 4.10 to get the bug reports. However, make sure that the old maintainer has no problem with the fact that they will continue to receive the bugs during that time.
Debian supports an ever-increasing number of architectures. Even if you are not a porter, and you don't use any architecture but one, it is part of your duty as a maintainer to be aware of issues of portability. Therefore, even if you are not a porter, you should read most of this chapter.
Porting is the act of building Debian packages for architectures that are different from the original architecture of the package maintainer's binary package. It is a unique and essential activity. In fact, porters do most of the actual compiling of Debian packages. For instance, for a single i386 binary package, there must be a recompile for each architecture, which amounts to 12 more builds.
Porters have a difficult and unique task, since they are required to deal with a large volume of packages. Ideally, every source package should build right out of the box. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. This section contains a checklist of ``gotchas'' often committed by Debian maintainers — common problems which often stymie porters, and make their jobs unnecessarily difficult.
The first and most important thing is to respond quickly to bug or issues raised by porters. Please treat porters with courtesy, as if they were in fact co-maintainers of your package (which, in a way, they are). Please be tolerant of succinct or even unclear bug reports; do your best to hunt down whatever the problem is.
By far, most of the problems encountered by porters are caused by packaging bugs in the source packages. Here is a checklist of things you should check or be aware of.
Make sure that your Build-Depends and
Build-Depends-Indep settings in
set properly. The best way to validate this is to use the
debootstrap package to create an unstable chroot environment (see
A.4.2). Within that chrooted environment, install the
build-essential package and any package dependencies mentioned in
Build-Depends and/or Build-Depends-Indep. Finally,
try building your package within that chrooted environment. These steps can be
automated by the use of the
pbuilder program which is provided by
the package of the same name (see
pbuilder, Section A.4.3).
If you can't set up a proper chroot,
dpkg-depcheck may be of
Manual for instructions on setting build dependencies.
Don't set architecture to a value other than ``all'' or ``any'' unless you
really mean it. In too many cases, maintainers don't follow the instructions
Manual. Setting your architecture to ``i386'' is usually incorrect.
Make sure your source package is correct. Do dpkg-source -x
package.dsc to make sure your source package unpacks
properly. Then, in there, try building your package from scratch with
Make sure you don't ship your source package with the
debian/substvars files. They should be removed by the `clean'
Make sure you don't rely on locally installed or hacked configurations or
programs. For instance, you should never be calling programs in
/usr/local/bin or the like. Try not to rely on programs being
setup in a special way. Try building your package on another machine, even if
it's the same architecture.
Don't depend on the package you're building being installed already (a sub-case of the above issue).
Don't rely on the compiler being a certain version, if possible. If not, then make sure your build dependencies reflect the restrictions, although you are probably asking for trouble, since different architectures sometimes standardize on different compilers.
Make sure your debian/rules contains separate ``binary-arch'' and ``binary-indep'' targets, as the Debian Policy Manual requires. Make sure that both targets work independently, that is, that you can call the target without having called the other before. To test this, try to run dpkg-buildpackage -B.
If the package builds out of the box for the architecture to be ported to, you are in luck and your job is easy. This section applies to that case; it describes how to build and upload your binary package so that it is properly installed into the archive. If you do have to patch the package in order to get it to compile for the other architecture, you are actually doing a source NMU, so consult How to do a NMU, Section 5.11.1 instead.
For a porter upload, no changes are being made to the source. You do not need
to touch any of the files in the source package. This includes
The way to invoke
dpkg-buildpackage is as dpkg-buildpackage
-B -mporter-email. Of course, set porter-email to
your email address. This will do a binary-only build of only the
architecture-dependent portions of the package, using the `binary-arch' target
If you are working on a Debian machine for your porting efforts and you need to
sign your upload locally for its acceptance in the archive, you can run
debsign on your
.changes file to have it signed
conveniently, or use the remote signing mode of
Sometimes the initial porter upload is problematic because the environment in
which the package was built was not good enough (outdated or obsolete library,
bad compiler, ...). Then you may just need to recompile it in an updated
environment. However, you have to bump the version number in this case, so
that the old bad package can be replaced in the Debian archive
katie refuses to install new packages if they don't have a
version number greater than the currently available one).
You have to make sure that your binary-only NMU doesn't render the package uninstallable. This could happen when a source package generates arch-dependent and arch-independent packages that depend on each other via $(Source-Version).
Despite the required modification of the changelog, these are called binary-only NMUs — there is no need in this case to trigger all other architectures to consider themselves out of date or requiring recompilation.
Such recompilations require special ``magic'' version numbering, so that the archive maintenance tools recognize that, even though there is a new Debian version, there is no corresponding source update. If you get this wrong, the archive maintainers will reject your upload (due to lack of corresponding source code).
The ``magic'' for a recompilation-only NMU is triggered by using a suffix appended to the package version number, following the form b<number>. For instance, if the latest version you are recompiling against was version ``2.9-3'', your NMU should carry a version of ``2.9-3+b1''. If the latest version was ``3.4+b1'' (i.e, a native package with a previous recompilation NMU), your NMU should have a version number of ``3.4+b2''. 
Similar to initial porter uploads, the correct way of invoking
dpkg-buildpackage is dpkg-buildpackage -B to only
build the architecture-dependent parts of the package.
Porters doing a source NMU generally follow the guidelines found in Non-Maintainer Uploads (NMUs), Section 5.11, just like non-porters. However, it is expected that the wait cycle for a porter's source NMU is smaller than for a non-porter, since porters have to cope with a large quantity of packages. Again, the situation varies depending on the distribution they are uploading to. It also varies whether the architecture is a candidate for inclusion into the next stable release; the release managers decide and announce which architectures are candidates.
If you are a porter doing an NMU for `unstable', the above guidelines for porting should be followed, with two variations. Firstly, the acceptable waiting period — the time between when the bug is submitted to the BTS and when it is OK to do an NMU — is seven days for porters working on the unstable distribution. This period can be shortened if the problem is critical and imposes hardship on the porting effort, at the discretion of the porter group. (Remember, none of this is Policy, just mutually agreed upon guidelines.) For uploads to stable or testing, please coordinate with the appropriate release team first.
Secondly, porters doing source NMUs should make sure that the bug they submit to the BTS should be of severity `serious' or greater. This ensures that a single source package can be used to compile every supported Debian architecture by release time. It is very important that we have one version of the binary and source package for all architecture in order to comply with many licenses.
Porters should try to avoid patches which simply kludge around bugs in the current version of the compile environment, kernel, or libc. Sometimes such kludges can't be helped. If you have to kludge around compiler bugs and the like, make sure you #ifdef your work properly; also, document your kludge so that people know to remove it once the external problems have been fixed.
Porters may also have an unofficial location where they can put the results of their work during the waiting period. This helps others running the port have the benefit of the porter's work, even during the waiting period. Of course, such locations have no official blessing or status, so buyer beware.
There is infrastructure and several tools to help automate package porting. This section contains a brief overview of this automation and porting to these tools; see the package documentation or references for full information.
Web pages containing the status of each port can be found at
Each port of Debian has a mailing list. The list of porting mailing lists can
be found at
These lists are used to coordinate porters, and to connect the users of a given
port with the porters.
Descriptions of several porting tools can be found in Porting tools, Section A.7.
buildd system is used as a distributed, client-server build
distribution system. It is usually used in conjunction with
auto-builders, which are ``slave'' hosts which simply check out and
attempt to auto-build packages which need to be ported. There is also an email
interface to the system, which allows porters to ``check out'' a source package
(usually one which cannot yet be auto-built) and work on it.
buildd is not yet available as a package; however, most porting
efforts are either using it currently or planning to use it in the near future.
The actual automated builder is packaged as
sbuild, see its
A.4.4. The complete
buildd system also collects a number of
as yet unpackaged components which are currently very useful and in use
continually, such as
Some of the data produced by
buildd which is generally useful to
porters is available on the web at
data includes nightly updated information from
quinn-diff (packages needing recompilation).
We are quite proud of this system, since it has so many possible uses.
Independent development groups can use the system for different sub-flavors of
Debian, which may or may not really be of general interest (for instance, a
flavor of Debian built with
gcc bounds checking). It will also
enable Debian to recompile entire distributions quickly.
The buildds admins of each arch can be contacted at the mail address $email@example.com.
Some packages still have issues with building and/or working on some of the architectures supported by Debian, and cannot be ported at all, or not within a reasonable amount of time. An example is a package that is SVGA-specific (only i386), or uses other hardware-specific features not supported on all architectures.
In order to prevent broken packages from being uploaded to the archive, and wasting buildd time, you need to do a few things:
First, make sure your package does fail to build on architectures that it cannot support. There are a few ways to achieve this. The preferred way is to have a small testsuite during build time that will test the functionality, and fail if it doesn't work. This is a good idea anyway, as this will prevent (some) broken uploads on all architectures, and also will allow the package to build as soon as the required functionality is available.
Additionally, if you believe the list of supported architectures is pretty constant, you should change 'any' to a list of supported architectures in debian/control. This way, the build will fail also, and indicate this to a human reader without actually trying.
In order to prevent autobuilders from needlessly trying to build your package,
it must be included in
packages-arch-specific, a list used by the
wanna-build script. The current version is available as
please see the top of the file for whom to contact for changes.
Please note that it is insufficient to only add your package to
Packages-arch-specific without making it fail to build on unsupported
architectures: A porter or any other person trying to build your package might
accidently upload it without noticing it doesn't work. If in the past some
binary packages were uploaded on unsupported architectures, request their
removal by filing a bug against
Under certain circumstances it is necessary for someone other than the official package maintainer to make a release of a package. This is called a non-maintainer upload, or NMU.
This section handles only source NMUs, i.e. NMUs which upload a new version of
the package. For binary-only NMUs by porters or QA members, please see Recompilation or binary-only NMU, Section
184.108.40.206. If a buildd builds and uploads a package, that too is strictly
speaking a binary NMU. See
220.127.116.11 for some more information.
The main reason why NMUs are done is when a developer needs to fix another developer's package in order to address serious problems or crippling bugs or when the package maintainer is unable to release a fix in a timely fashion.
First and foremost, it is critical that NMU patches to source should be as non-disruptive as possible. Do not do housekeeping tasks, do not change the name of modules or files, do not move directories; in general, do not fix things which are not broken. Keep the patch as small as possible. If things bother you aesthetically, talk to the Debian maintainer, talk to the upstream maintainer, or submit a bug. However, aesthetic changes must not be made in a non-maintainer upload.
And please remember the Hippocratic Oath: "Above all, do no harm." It is better to leave a package with an open grave bug than applying a non-functional patch, or one that hides the bug instead of resolving it.
NMUs which fix important, serious or higher severity bugs are encouraged and accepted. You should endeavor to reach the current maintainer of the package; they might be just about to upload a fix for the problem, or have a better solution.
NMUs should be made to assist a package's maintainer in resolving bugs. Maintainers should be thankful for that help, and NMUers should respect the decisions of maintainers, and try to personally help the maintainer by their work.
A NMU should follow all conventions, written down in this section. For an upload to testing or unstable, this order of steps is recommended:
Make sure that the package's bugs that the NMU is meant to address are all filed in the Debian Bug Tracking System (BTS). If they are not, submit them immediately.
Wait a few days for the response from the maintainer. If you don't get any response, you may want to help them by sending the patch that fixes the bug. Don't forget to tag the bug with the "patch" keyword.
Wait a few more days. If you still haven't got an answer from the maintainer, send them a mail announcing your intent to NMU the package. Prepare an NMU as described in this section, and test it carefully on your machine (cf. Testing the package, Section 5.3). Double check that your patch doesn't have any unexpected side effects. Make sure your patch is as small and as non-disruptive as it can be.
Upload your package to incoming in
DELAYED/7-day (cf. Delayed uploads, Section 5.6.2), send the final
patch to the maintainer via the BTS, and explain to them that they have 7 days
to react if they want to cancel the NMU.
Follow what happens, you're responsible for any bug that you introduced with your NMU. You should probably use The Package Tracking System, Section 4.10 (PTS) to stay informed of the state of the package after your NMU.
At times, the release manager or an organized group of developers can announce a certain period of time in which the NMU rules are relaxed. This usually involves shortening the period during which one is to wait before uploading the fixes, and shortening the DELAYED period. It is important to notice that even in these so-called "bug squashing party" times, the NMU'er has to file bugs and contact the developer first, and act later. Please see Bug squashing parties, Section 7.2.2 for details.
For the testing distribution, the rules may be changed by the release managers. Please take additional care, and acknowledge that the usual way for a package to enter testing is through unstable.
For the stable distribution, please take extra care. Of course, the release managers may also change the rules here. Please verify before you upload that all your changes are OK for inclusion into the next stable release by the release manager.
When a security bug is detected, the security team may do an NMU, using their own rules. Please refer to Handling security-related bugs, Section 5.8.5 for more information.
For the differences for Porters NMUs, please see When to do a source NMU if you are a porter, Section 18.104.22.168.
Of course, it is always possible to agree on special rules with a maintainer (like the maintainer asking "please upload this fix directly for me, and no diff required").
Whenever you have made a change to a package, no matter how trivial, the version number needs to change. This enables our packing system to function.
If you are doing a non-maintainer upload (NMU), you should add a new minor
version number to the debian-revision part of the version number
(the portion after the last hyphen). This extra minor number will start at
`1'. For example, consider the package `foo', which is at version 1.1-3. In
the archive, the source package control file would be
foo_1.1-3.dsc. The upstream version is `1.1' and the Debian
revision is `3'. The next NMU would add a new minor number `.1' to the Debian
revision; the new source control file would be
The Debian revision minor number is needed to avoid stealing one of the package maintainer's version numbers, which might disrupt their work. It also has the benefit of making it visually clear that a package in the archive was not made by the official maintainer.
If there is no debian-revision component in the version number then one should be created, starting at `0.1' (but in case of a debian native package still upload it as native package). If it is absolutely necessary for someone other than the usual maintainer to make a release based on a new upstream version then the person making the release should start with the debian-revision value `0.1'. The usual maintainer of a package should start their debian-revision numbering at `1'.
If you upload a package to testing or stable, sometimes, you need to "fork" the version number tree. For this, version numbers like 1.1-3sarge0.1 could be used.
Anyone who is doing a source NMU must create a changelog entry, describing which bugs are fixed by the NMU, and generally why the NMU was required and what it fixed. The changelog entry will have the email address of the person who uploaded it in the log entry and the NMU version number in it.
By convention, source NMU changelog entries start with the line
* Non-maintainer upload
Maintainers other than the official package maintainer should make as few changes to the package as possible, and they should always send a patch as a unified context diff (diff -u) detailing their changes to the Bug Tracking System.
What if you are simply recompiling the package? If you just need to recompile it for a single architecture, then you may do a binary-only NMU as described in Recompilation or binary-only NMU, Section 22.214.171.124 which doesn't require any patch to be sent. If you want the package to be recompiled for all architectures, then you do a source NMU as usual and you will have to send a patch.
Bugs fixed by source NMUs used to be tagged fixed instead of closed, but since version tracking is in place, such bugs are now also closed with the NMU version.
Also, after doing an NMU, you have to send the information to the existing bugs that are fixed by your NMU, including the unified diff. Historically, it was custom to open a new bug and include a patch showing all the changes you have made. The normal maintainer will either apply the patch or employ an alternate method of fixing the problem. Sometimes bugs are fixed independently upstream, which is another good reason to back out an NMU's patch. If the maintainer decides not to apply the NMU's patch but to release a new version, the maintainer needs to ensure that the new upstream version really fixes each problem that was fixed in the non-maintainer release.
In addition, the normal maintainer should always retain the entry in the changelog file documenting the non-maintainer upload -- and of course, also keep the changes. If you revert some of the changes, please reopen the relevant bug reports.
Source NMU packages are built normally. Pick a distribution using the same rules as found in Picking a distribution, Section 5.5, follow the other instructions in Uploading a package, Section 5.6.
Make sure you do not change the value of the maintainer in the
debian/control file. Your name as given in the NMU entry of the
debian/changelog file will be used for signing the changes file.
If one of your packages has been NMU'ed, you have to incorporate the changes in
your copy of the sources. This is easy, you just have to apply the patch that
has been sent to you. Once this is done, you have to close the bugs that have
been tagged fixed by the NMU. The easiest way is to use the -v
dpkg-buildpackage, as this allows you to include just
all changes since your last maintainer upload. Alternatively, you can close
them manually by sending the required mails to the BTS or by adding the
required closes: #nnnn in the changelog entry of your next upload.
In any case, you should not be upset by the NMU. An NMU is not a personal attack against the maintainer. It is a proof that someone cares enough about the package that they were willing to help you in your work, so you should be thankful. You may also want to ask them if they would be interested in helping you on a more frequent basis as co-maintainer or backup maintainer (see Collaborative maintenance, Section 5.12).
Unless you know the maintainer is still active, it is wise to check the package
to see if it has been orphaned. The current list of orphaned packages which
haven't had their maintainer set correctly is available at
If you perform an NMU on an improperly orphaned package, please set the
maintainer to ``Debian QA Group <firstname.lastname@example.org>''.
Only official, registered Debian Developers can do binary or source NMUs. A Debian Developer is someone who has their key in the Debian key ring. Non-developers, however, are encouraged to download the source package and start hacking on it to fix problems; however, rather than doing an NMU, they should just submit worthwhile patches to the Bug Tracking System. Maintainers almost always appreciate quality patches and bug reports.
There are two new terms used throughout this section: ``binary-only NMU'' and ``source NMU''. These terms are used with specific technical meaning throughout this document. Both binary-only and source NMUs are similar, since they involve an upload of a package by a developer who is not the official maintainer of that package. That is why it's a non-maintainer upload.
A source NMU is an upload of a package by a developer who is not the official
maintainer, for the purposes of fixing a bug in the package. Source NMUs
always involves changes to the source (even if it is just a change to
debian/changelog). This can be either a change to the upstream
source, or a change to the Debian bits of the source. Note, however, that
source NMUs may also include architecture-dependent packages, as well as an
updated Debian diff.
A binary-only NMU is a recompilation and upload of a binary package for a given architecture. As such, it is usually part of a porting effort. A binary-only NMU is a non-maintainer uploaded binary version of a package, with no source changes required. There are many cases where porters must fix problems in the source in order to get them to compile for their target architecture; that would be considered a source NMU rather than a binary-only NMU. As you can see, we don't distinguish in terminology between porter NMUs and non-porter NMUs.
Both classes of NMUs, source and binary-only, can be lumped under the term ``NMU''. However, this often leads to confusion, since most people think ``source NMU'' when they think ``NMU''. So it's best to be careful: always use ``binary NMU'' or ``binNMU'' for binary-only NMUs.
"Collaborative maintenance" is a term describing the sharing of Debian package maintenance duties by several people. This collaboration is almost always a good idea, since it generally results in higher quality and faster bug fix turnaround times. It is strongly recommended that packages with a priority of Standard or which are part of the base set have co-maintainers.
Generally there is a primary maintainer and one or more co-maintainers. The
primary maintainer is the person whose name is listed in the
Maintainer field of the
Co-maintainers are all the other maintainers.
In its most basic form, the process of adding a new co-maintainer is quite easy:
Setup the co-maintainer with access to the sources you build the package from.
Generally this implies you are using a network-capable version control system,
Subversion. Alioth (see Debian's GForge installation: Alioth,
Section 4.12) provides such tools, amongst others.
Add the co-maintainer's correct maintainer name and address to the
Uploaders field in the global part of the
Uploaders: John Buzz <email@example.com>, Adam Rex <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Using the PTS (The Package Tracking System, Section 4.10), the co-maintainers should subscribe themselves to the appropriate source package.
Another form of collaborative maintenance is team maintenance, which is recommended if you maintain several packages with the same group of developers. In that case, the Maintainer and Uploaders field of each package must be managed with care. It is recommended to choose between one of the two following schemes:
Put the team member mainly responsible for the package in the Maintainer field. In the Uploaders, put the mailing list address, and the team members who care for the package.
Put the mailing list address in the Maintainer field. In the Uploaders field, put the team members who care for the package. In this case, you must make sure the mailing list accept bug reports without any human interaction (like moderation for non-subscribers).
In any case, it is a bad idea to automatically put all team members in the Uploaders field. It clutters the Developer's Package Overview listing (see Developer's packages overview, Section 4.11) with packages one doesn't really care for, and creates a false sense of good maintenance.
Packages are usually installed into the `testing' distribution after they have undergone some degree of testing in unstable.
They must be in sync on all architectures and mustn't have dependencies that make them uninstallable; they also have to have generally no known release-critical bugs at the time they're installed into testing. This way, `testing' should always be close to being a release candidate. Please see below for details.
The scripts that update the testing distribution are run each day
after the installation of the updated packages; these scripts are called
britney. They generate the
Packages files for the
testing distribution, but they do so in an intelligent manner; they
try to avoid any inconsistency and to use only non-buggy packages.
The inclusion of a package from unstable is conditional on the following:
The package must have been available in unstable for 2, 5 or 10 days, depending on the urgency (high, medium or low). Please note that the urgency is sticky, meaning that the highest urgency uploaded since the previous testing transition is taken into account. Those delays may be doubled during a freeze, or testing transitions may be switched off altogether;
It must have the same number or fewer release-critical bugs than the version currently available in testing;
It must be available on all architectures on which it has previously been built
in unstable. The
utility, Section 4.9.2 may be of interest to check that information;
It must not break any dependency of a package which is already available in testing;
The packages on which it depends must either be available in testing or they must be accepted into testing at the same time (and they will be if they fulfill all the necessary criteria);
To find out whether a package is progressing into testing or not, see the
testing script output on the
web page of the testing
distribution, or use the program
grep-excuses which is
devscripts package. This utility can easily be used in a
crontab(5) to keep yourself informed of the progression of your
packages into testing.
update_excuses file does not always give the precise reason
why the package is refused; you may have to find it on your own by looking for
what would break with the inclusion of the package. The
testing web page gives
some more information about the usual problems which may be causing such
Sometimes, some packages never enter testing because the set of inter-relationship is too complicated and cannot be sorted out by the scripts. See below for details.
Some further dependency analysis is shown on
— but be warned, this page also shows build dependencies which are not
considered by britney.
For the testing migration script, "outdated" means: There are different versions in unstable for the release architectures (except for the architectures in fuckedarches; fuckedarches is a list of architectures that don't keep up (in update_out.py), but currently, it's empty). "outdated" has nothing whatsoever to do with the architectures this package has in testing.
Consider this example:
foo | alpha | arm ---------+-------+---- testing | 1 | - unstable | 1 | 2
The package is out of date on alpha in unstable, and will not go to testing. And removing foo from testing would not help at all, the package is still out of date on alpha, and will not propagate to testing.
However, if ftp-master removes a package in unstable (here on arm):
foo | alpha | arm | hurd-i386 ---------+-------+-----+---------- testing | 1 | 1 | - unstable | 2 | - | 1
In this case, the package is up to date on all release architectures in unstable (and the extra hurd-i386 doesn't matter, as it's not a release architecture).
Sometimes, the question is raised if it is possible to allow packages in that are not yet built on all architectures: No. Just plainly no. (Except if you maintain glibc or so.)
Sometimes, a package is removed to allow another package in: This happens only to allow another package to go in if it's ready in every other sense. Suppose e.g. that a cannot be installed with the new version of b; then a may be removed to allow b in.
Of course, there is another reason to remove a package from testing: It's just too buggy (and having a single RC-bug is enough to be in this state).
Furthermore, if a package has been removed from unstable, and no package in testing depends on it any more, then it will automatically be removed.
A situation which is not handled very well by britney is if package a depends on the new version of package b, and vice versa.
An example of this is:
| testing | unstable --+-----------------+------------ a | 1; depends: b=1 | 2; depends: b=2 b | 1; depends: a=1 | 2; depends: a=2
Neither package a nor package b is considered for update.
Currently, this requires some manual hinting from the release team. Please
contact them by sending mail to
if this happens to one of your packages.
Generally, there is nothing that the status of a package in testing means for transition of the next version from unstable to testing, with two exceptions: If the RC-bugginess of the package goes down, it may go in even if it is still RC-buggy. The second exception is if the version of the package in testing is out of sync on the different arches: Then any arch might just upgrade to the version of the source package; however, this can happen only if the package was previously forced through, the arch is in fuckedarches, or there was no binary package of that arch present in unstable at all during the testing migration.
In summary this means: The only influence that a package being in testing has on a new version of the same package is that the new version might go in easier.
If you are interested in details, this is how britney works:
The packages are looked at to determine whether they are valid candidates. This gives the "update excuses". The most common reasons why a package is not considered are too young, RC-bugginess, and out of date on some arches. For this part of britney, the release managers have hammers of various sizes to force britney to consider a package. (Also, the base freeze is coded in that part of britney.) (There is a similar thing for binary-only updates, but this is not described here. If you're interested in that, please peruse the code.)
Now, the more complex part happens: Britney tries to update testing with the valid candidates; first, each package alone, and then larger and even larger sets of packages together. Each try is accepted if testing is not more uninstallable after the update than before. (Before and after this part, some hints are processed; but as only release masters can hint, this is probably not so important for you.)
If you want to see more details, you can look it up on
merkel:/org/ftp.debian.org/testing/update_out/ (or there in
~aba/testing/update_out to see a setup with a smaller packages file). Via web,
The hints are available via
The testing distribution is fed with packages from unstable according to the rules explained above. However, in some cases, it is necessary to upload packages built only for testing. For that, you may want to upload to testing-proposed-updates.
Keep in mind that packages uploaded there are not automatically processed, they
have to go through the hands of the release manager. So you'd better have a
good reason to upload there. In order to know what a good reason is in the
release managers' eyes, you should read the instructions that they regularly
You should not upload to testing-proposed-updates when you can update your packages through unstable. If you can't (for example because you have a newer development version in unstable), you may use this facility, but it is recommended that you ask for authorization from the release manager first. Even if a package is frozen, updates through unstable are possible, if the upload via unstable does not pull in any new dependencies.
Version numbers are usually selected by adding the codename of the testing distribution and a running number, like 1.2sarge1 for the first upload through testing-proposed-updates of package version 1.2.
Please make sure you didn't miss any of these items in your upload:
Make sure that your package really needs to go through testing-proposed-updates, and can't go through unstable;
Make sure that you included only the minimal amount of changes;
Make sure that you included an appropriate explanation in the changelog;
Make sure that you've written testing or testing-proposed-updates into your target distribution;
Make sure that you've built and tested your package in testing, not in unstable;
Make sure that your version number is higher than the version in testing and testing-proposed-updates, and lower than in unstable;
After uploading and successful build on all platforms, contact the release team
and ask them to approve your upload.
All bugs of some higher severities are by default considered release-critical; currently, these are critical, grave, and serious bugs.
Such bugs are presumed to have an impact on the chances that the package will be released with the stable release of Debian: in general, if a package has open release-critical bugs filed on it, it won't get into "testing", and consequently won't be released in "stable".
The unstable bug count are all release-critical bugs without either any release-tag (such as potato, woody) or with release-tag sid; also, only if they are neither fixed nor set to sarge-ignore. The "testing" bug count for a package is considered to be roughly the bug count of unstable count at the last point when the "testing" version equalled the "unstable" version.
This will change post-sarge, as soon as we have versions in the bug tracking system.
The structure of the distribution archives is such that they can only contain one version of a package; a package is defined by its name. So when the source package acmefoo is installed into "testing", along with its binary packages acme-foo-bin, acme-bar-bin, libacme-foo1 and libacme-foo-dev, the old version is removed.
However, the old version may have provided a binary package with an old soname of a library, such as libacme-foo0. Removing the old acmefoo will remove libacme-foo0, which will break any packages which depend on it.
Evidently, this mainly affects packages which provide changing sets of binary packages in different versions (in turn, mainly libraries). However, it will also affect packages upon which versioned dependencies have been declared of the ==, <=, or << varieties.
When the set of binary packages provided by a source package change in this way, all the packages that depended on the old binaries will have to be updated to depend on the new binaries instead. Because installing such a source package into "testing" breaks all the packages that depended on it in "testing", some care has to be taken now: all the depending packages must be updated and ready to be installed themselves so that they won't be broken, and, once everything is ready, manual intervention by the release manager or an assistant is normally required.
If you are having problems with complicated groups of packages like this, contact debian-devel or debian-release for help.
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