Advantages of simpler patch management tools

Kumar Appaiah akumar at
Fri Oct 12 11:21:32 UTC 2007

Dear vcs-pkg,

Myself and madduck had an off-list discussion, and this prompted me to
ask some queries on the list.

> also sprach Romain Francoise <rfrancoise at> [2007.10.10.1722 +0100]:
> >   a) So far using topic branches for simple fixes was too complex
> >   (in Arch).  Now that we have Git it's simpler, but it's still
> >   more heavyweight than just putting a patch in debian/patches and
> >   be done with it.
> I agree with you. Yet, the number of times I had to modify a patch
> which would not apply cleanly anymore really made me long for a VCS
> with proper merge support to handle this.

While using a vcs to put the packages might be very convenient,
doesn't this go against the thumb rule of keeping your .diff.gz `clean'?
I mean, the rule is, that your .diff.gz should have only the contents
of the debian/ directory, but this won't ensure that, right? I would
be interested in knowing your views about this.

I am aware of the .git.tar.gz effort, see below.

> >   c) Everybody understands debian/patches.  Not everybody groks Git.
> >      This makes NMUs and collaboration easier.
> While I appreciate Joey's work on git.tar.gz, I also think we should
> figure out a way to make it all more accessible. The Canonical/HCT
> method of generating debian/patches from VCS is not really among my
> favourites; instead I really envision more tool like
> dpatch-edit-patch and its quilt equivalent, abstracted to the point
> where a patch is a patch independent of its representation: a file
> or a feature branch.

My question to madduck was, if you use a .git.tar.gz to replace the
old style .diff.gz approach, won't this actually make things difficult
for wannabe patch senders who don't know git? Won't they prefer the
old style .diff.gz instead?

While madduck suggested that a mechanism to abstract out the git
details from the packaging would solve this issue, I am still
apprehensive about that. Won't, somehow, getting the old-style
.diff.gz maintain the consistency we are used to? Do you really have
to move away from it to go to the .git.tar.gz approach?


Kumar Appaiah,
458, Jamuna Hostel,
Indian Institute of Technology Madras,
Chennai - 600 036
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