Index of /doc/debian-policy

[ICO]NameLast modifiedSizeDescription

[PARENTDIR]Parent Directory  -  
[TXT]README.css2019-02-28 00:59 481  
[TXT]README.html2019-02-28 00:59 18K 
[   ]README.txt.gz2019-02-28 00:59 6.2K 
[TXT]autopkgtest.html2019-02-28 00:59 14K 
[   ]autopkgtest.txt.gz2019-02-28 00:59 4.8K 
[   ]changelog.gz2019-02-28 00:59 53K 
[   ]copyright2019-02-28 00:59 4.9K 
[TXT]copyright-format-1.0.html2019-02-28 00:59 60K 
[   ]copyright-format-1.0.txt.gz2019-02-28 00:59 10K 
[TXT]debconf_specification.html2019-02-28 00:59 29K 
[   ]debconf_specification.txt.gz2019-02-28 00:59 7.3K 
[DIR]fhs/2019-07-07 18:33 -  
[TXT]menu-policy-1.html2019-02-28 00:59 23K 
[DIR]menu-policy.html/2019-02-28 00:59 -  
[   ]menu-policy.txt.gz2019-02-28 00:59 4.4K 
[TXT]perl-policy-1.html2019-02-28 00:59 35K 
[DIR]perl-policy.html/2019-02-28 00:59 -  
[   ]perl-policy.txt.gz2019-02-28 00:59 5.2K 
[   ]policy.epub2019-02-28 00:59 382K 
[DIR]policy.html/2019-02-28 00:59 -  
[   ]policy.pdf.gz2019-02-28 00:59 772K 
[   ]policy.txt.gz2019-02-28 00:59 140K 
[   ]upgrading-checklist.txt.gz2019-02-28 00:59 21K 
[   ]virtual-package-names-list.yaml.gz2019-02-28 00:59 4.4K 

Debian Policy

Debian Policy


Interacting with the team

Debian Policy uses a formal procedure and a set of BTS usertags to manage the lifecycle of change proposals. For definitions of those tags and proposal states and information about what the next step is for each phase, see Appendix 8 of the Debian Policy Manual, "Debian Policy changes process."

Given that most changes need to be discussed according to this process, we have merge requests on salsa turned off. Please submit a bug to the BTS, either with patches attached, or a reference to a git branch that is publically fetchable. See "Seeking seconds for a patch", below, for more details.


Driving change proposals

The best way to help is to find an open bug that no-one is currently driving or shepherding, and help move it through the Policy Changes Process. If you're not sure whether a bug is being driven along or shepherded by anyone, you cak ask on the debian-policy mailing list.

To find these bugs, you can use the list of all currently open bugs, or the view of bugs organised by complexity. A bug of simple complexity is thought to be an uncontroversial change that probably just needs someone to write a patch.

Shepherding or driving a bug can involve:

Most of this work can be done by people other than the Policy delegates, and almost every change can be worked on independently of other changes, so there's lots of opportunities for people to help.


We have recently begun accepting translations for the Policy Manual. Please follow the procedures of the localisation team for the language into which you wish to translate.

When you have a translation for us to merge, it should be committed to this repository:

DDs can push to this repo's master branch; non-DDs should create merge requests.

Adding a new language

  1. Add the language code to the LANGUAGES variable in the Makefile.

  2. Install the build-deps for debian-policy.

  3. Run make update-po.

  4. Start translating the files in locales//LC_MESSAGES/.

  5. Add a new binary package for the language, or ask the Policy Editors to do it for you.

Seeking seconds for a patch

When there is a consensus on the change that should be made, and you have written a patch implementing that change (i.e. you are moving the bug from "State C: Proposal" to "State D: Wording proposed" in the Policy Changes Process), please follow these steps to make it as easy as possible for others to review your work.

  1. Clone policy.git, make your change, and commit it to a topic branch.

  2. Push this branch somewhere that is publically cloneable. For example, you could fork policy.git on

  3. Address an e-mail to the bug, possibly CCing people who you think are likely to want to second your patch but may not be subscribed to the debian-policy mailing list.

  4. Set the patch tag on the bug using control: tag -1 + patch, and indicate in the text of your e-mail that you are seeking seconds.

  5. Include in your e-mail the output of git diff --word-diff=plain for your change. If your change is particularly large, it might be more readable not to use --word-diff=plain, but usually the word diff is better.

    Do not quote the output -- many people have mail readers which will colorise the diff if it is left unmodified.

  6. If you think it would be useful, optionally include in your e-mail instructions for how to obtain a side-by-side diff of the changes, by cloning your git repository. For this, the command git difftool -y -x icdiff is useful.

  7. If you think it would be useful, optionally include in your e-mail a URL to view a side-by-side diff online -- can do this.


In this example the change is very small, so instructions for obtaining a side-by-side diff are not really needed. They are included here just in order to give an example of how it can be done.


Control: tag -1 + patch


I am seeking seconds for the following patch:

diff --git a/perl-policy.xml b/perl-policy.xml
index 4471d68..fab2fe5 100644
--- a/perl-policy.xml
+++ b/perl-policy.xml
@@ -533,7 +533,7 @@ $(MAKE) OPTIMIZE="-O2 -g -Wall"</screen>
      <title>Script Magic</title>

        All packaged perl programs [-must-]{+should+} start with
        <literal>#!/usr/bin/perl</literal> and may append such flags as
        are required.
diff --git a/policy/ch-files.rst b/policy/ch-files.rst
index f31a3b4..bc87573 100644
--- a/policy/ch-files.rst
+++ b/policy/ch-files.rst
@@ -186,7 +186,7 @@ All command scripts, including the package maintainer scripts inside the
package and used by ``dpkg``, should have a ``#!`` line naming the shell
to be used to interpret them.

In the case of Perl scripts this [-must-]{+should+} be ``#!/usr/bin/perl``.

When scripts are installed into a directory in the system PATH, the
script name should not include an extension such as ``.sh`` or ``.pl``


To obtain a side-by-side diff:

    % git clone debian-policy
    % cd debian-policy
    % git difftool -y -x icdiff master..origin/bug906901

Alternatively, visit

Larger projects

There are also some other, larger projects:

If you want to work on any of these projects, please mail the debian-policy list for more information. We'll be happy to help you get started.


The Policy Editors are official project delegates with responsibility for maintaining, and coordinating the updating of, the Debian Policy Manual, and all the other policy documents released as part of the "debian-policy" package. All of the delegates do basically the same tasks. The current delegates are:

The Debian Policy Editors:

Any DD can second proposed wording changes. Everything else can be done by anyone. Very many other people are active on the Policy mailing list outside of the Policy Editors.

In addition to the main technical manual, the team currently also maintains:

These documents are all maintained using the Policy Changes Process, and the current state of all change proposals is tracked using the debian-policy BTS.

Maintenance procedures

These notes are probably of interest only to the Policy delegates.

Repository layout

The Git repository used for Debian Policy has the following branches:

Continuous integration

On each push to the master branch, a jenkins job is triggered which builds src:debian-policy's binary packages and installs them to

Managing a bug

Some tips for managing bugs:

For the debian/changelog entry, use the following format:

* <document>: <brief change description>
  Wording: <author of wording>
  Seconded: <seconder>
  Seconded: <seconder>
  Closes: <bug numbers>

For example:

* Policy: better document version ranking and empty Debian revisions
  Wording: Russ Allbery <>
  Seconded: Raphaƫl Hertzog <>
  Seconded: Manoj Srivastava <>
  Seconded: Guillem Jover <>
  Closes: #186700, #458910

Updating branches

After commits to master have been pushed, either by you or by another Policy team member, you will generally want to update your working bug branches. The equivalent of the following commands should do that:

for i in `git show-ref --heads | awk '{print $2}'`; do
    j=$(basename $i)
    if [ "$j" != "master" ]; then
        git checkout $j && git merge master
git push --all origin

assuming that you haven't packed the refs in your repository.

Release checklist

  1. Pull any translation updates from into 'next' and/or 'master'.
  2. Merge 'next' to 'master' and clean up the changelog.
  3. Update .po files:

    make update-po && git commit locales -m"update po files"

  4. dch -r to finalise changelog

  5. Update release date in the upgrading checklist
  6. Bump Standards-Version in d/control
  7. Commit these changes:

    git commit debian/changelog debian/control policy/upgrading-checklist.rst -m"finalise"

  8. Make sure the package builds and installs: dgit sbuild or equivalent

  9. Tag and upload: either
    • git tag -s followed by dput; or
    • dgit push-source
  10. Push to salsa:
    • git push --tags origin
  11. Announce on debian-devel-announce, including upgrading checklist section for new release
  12. Also consider a more informally-worded posting on a blog that is syndicated to
  13. Some time later, verify publication to .
    • This is generated by executing the following cron scripts:
      • /srv/ (download the deb package)
      • /srv/ (unpack and move pages)
    • Its build log is available at
    • These cron scripts can be found at

Setting release goals

Policy has a large bug backlog, and each bug against Policy tends to take considerable time and discussion to resolve. I've found it useful, when trying to find a place to start, to pick a manageable set of bugs and set as a target resolving them completely before the next Policy release. Resolving a bug means one of the following:

Anyone can pick bugs and work resolve them. The final determination to accept a wording change or reject a bug will be made by a Policy delegate, but if a patch is already written and seconded, or if a summary of why a bug is not ready to be acted on is already written, the work is much easier for the Policy delegate.

One of the best ways to help out is to pick one or two bugs (checking on the Policy list first), say that you'll make resolving them a goal for the next release, and guide the discussion until the bugs can reach one of the resolution states above.

Debian Policy, 2019-02-27