Packaging Policy

This document defines the policy for creating packages.

Multiple Packages per Software

Installation files of a software shall be put into separated packages according to their purpose. For a software "foo":

  • Package "foo": Contains all runtime files, i.e. everything needed to "run" the software. This may include executables (e.g. executable "bin/foo"), shared libraries (e.g. "lib/"), data files (e.g. "data/foo/foo-runtime-data").
  • Package "foo_devel": Contains only the files needed for development. This includes header files and static libraries. Shared libraries are not to be included. Instead the package must declare package "foo" with the matching version as a requirement.
  • Package "foo_doc": Contains the documentation for using "foo".
  • Package "foo_devel_doc": Contains the documentation for "foo" development, like API documentation etc.
  • Package "foo_debuginfo": Contains the debug information for the package "foo".

If multiple packages are defined, they must not contain any common files.

If a software contains client and server software that can be used independently from each other, two separate sets of packages shall be created.

Provides Declaration

A package "foo" must declare the following provided resolvables:

  • "foo=<version>" with <version> naming the exact version of the package.
  • "cmd:<name>=<version>" for each executable <name> with version <version> installed in "bin/". This includes a declaration for "cmd:foo", if there is an executable named like the package.
  • "lib:<name>=<version>" for each shared library <name> (not including a suffix, e.g. "libfoo") with version <version> installed in "lib/".
  • "devel:<name>=<version>" for each library <name> (not including a suffix, e.g. "libfoo") with version <version> for which development files (library symlinks in "develop/lib" and header files in "develop/headers") are included.

Any instance of '-' in <name> shall be replaced by '_'. If the backward compatibility of a resolvable is known, a "compat >= <compatibleVersion>" shall be added accordingly.


If a package "foo" provides documentation (which it should, of course), in many cases that can be provided in different formats:

  • Any kind of user documentation belongs in a subdirectory of "documentation"
    • Man pages is the preferred format for terminal and should be installed into the corresponding folders in the subdirectory "man".
    • Info files are provided by many packages. If at all desirable, they should be installed into the subdirectory "info". One problem with info files is that all packages currently contain a file named "documentation/info/dir", which supposedly is the list of all available info files, but since each package provides an instance of this file containing only its own info files, an arbitrary dir file is made visible via packagefs. The file should therefore not be include in a package.
    • Other documentation for a package foo -- HTML, a simple ReadMe, sample documents, PDFs, etc. -- goes into subdirectory "packages/foo". If it is likely that multiple versions of a package may be installed, then a version string (as appropriate just major, major and minor, or even full (but no revision)) should be appended, e.g. "package/foo-2" or "package/foo-2.13".
  • For a package foo_devel developer documentation, except man and info pages, should go into "develop/documentation/foo". A version string may be appended to the directory name as well. When it is unclear what is developer documentation or it isn't really possible to separate it from user documentation "documentation/foo" should be used.

Data Files

Data files for a package foo shall generally be placed in a directory "data/foo". If it is likely that multiple versions of a package may be installed, then a version string shall be appended. Data (but not settings/configuration) files generated at run-time shall be placed in "cache/foo" or "var/foo", depending on the kind of data the files contain. For data files, both read-only or generated, that are shared between different packages/software a differently named subdirectory may be used as appropriate (e.g. font files are placed in "data/fonts").

Writable and Settings Files and Directories

All global writable files and directories as well as user settings files and directories that the package includes or the packaged software creates or requires the user to create shall be declared by the package (via GLOBAL_WRITABLE_FILES respectively USER_SETTINGS_FILES in the build recipe) in the following way:

  • A user specific settings file shall never be installed on package activation. Usually user specific settings files are completely optional. In the rare case that a software requires a user specific settings, the user will have to create it manually. In either case, if the package includes a template user settings file, that should be declared:
    USER_SETTINGS_FILES="settings/foo template data/foo/user-settings-template"
    If no template file is included, the settings file shall still be declared:
  • Since many ported software requires a global settings file or other writable files, a default version of such a file can be provided and is automatically installed on package activation. In that case the package must also declare what shall be done with a user-modified file when the package is updated. E.g.:
    GLOBAL_WRITABLE_FILES="settings/foo keep-old"
    "keep-old" indicates that the software can read old files and the user-modified file should be kept. "manual" indicates that the software may not be able to read an older file and the user may have to manually adjust it. "auto-merge" indicates that the file format is simple text and a three-way merge shall be attempted. If a default settings file is not included in the package, the settings file shall still be declared, just without the additional keyword.

In both cases, user settings files and global writable files, the "directory" keyword can be used to indicate that the given path actually refers to a directory.

Post-Installation Scripts

A package may include one or more post-installation scripts. The scripts are executed whenever the package is activated (for the first time, but also after package updates). They shall be placed in "boot/post-install" and declared explicitly by the package (via POST_INSTALL_SCRIPTS in the build recipe). A post-install script should be considered the last resort. It should only be used, if there's no reasonable alternative.

Last modified 4 years ago Last modified on Jun 9, 2013 11:14:30 PM