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Dev/About Debian Packaging

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Recommends vs Depends[edit]

debian/control: There are separate meta packages for dependencies and recommended packages.

If we used the Recommends: field for Whonix meta packages (those who pull the required Debian upstream packages for creating Whonix), we could not install them using apt-get with --install-recommends, which is apt-get's default option, because that would also install packages recommend by any dependency we install.

On the other hand, if we installed using apt-get --no-install-recommends, the packages Whonix's meta packages recommends, will not get installed.

Therefore splitting them, appeared to be the only solution. Otherwise it would install packages such as virtuoso, soprano and vlc, which are not useful in context of Whonix-Gateway.

See also Whonix_Debian_Packages#Technical_Stuff.

Files in Home Folder[edit]

  • /home is for users. Not for distribution maintainers.
  • Leads to a Whonix_Configuration_Files#dpkg_interactive_conflict_resolution_dialog when package file is updated, in case file gets modified by the user or a program in the home folder, which is a usability issue, which we try to avoid.
  • serious lintian error dir-or-file-in-home.
    • Makes the package unfit for inclusion into packages.debian.org (very long term goal) (or other distribution archives).
    • Looks amateurish in the eyes of Debian packagers.
  • For which user? User user only? Inconsistent for multi user use cases.
  • Doesn't work / inconsistent in Qubes TemplateBasedVMs. Since packages are usually upgraded in TemplateVMs, the change never propagates to the home folder of the TemplateBasedVM since it has an independently persistent home folder.
  • In most cases there are more suitable mechanisms to reach the implementation goal than writing into the user's home folder.
    • If not, the lack of such mechanisms should be discussed with / requested from upstream.

Files in /etc/skel[edit]

  • Files in /etc/skel are not as bad as files in /home folder.
    • Works for any user.
  • Inconsistencies. Not deployed through /etc/skel mechanism if file is added to a package after a user account was created. I.e. users who upgraded will miss that file.
    • Needs special code to handle such cases.
  • If the file from /etc/skel is in the user's home folder, it's hard to update it. Updating the file in /etc/skel won't effect the user's version of the file in the user's home folder.
    • Needs special code to handle such cases.

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