After not attending FOSDEM for a few years, this year I decided to attend and also give a talk about “Debian packaging for beginners”, a replay of a talk given by Gergely Nagy in Debconf11 (video). As the per distribution devrooms were replaced a few years ago with the cross-distributions rooms, I thought it might be a good chance to have this kind of introduction talk to help people started contributing to Debian (or derived distributions).
The talk wasn’t meant to replace reading the documentation (new maintainer’s guide, developer’s references and the debian policy), but it’s a good start for those who want some hands-on experience. The idea is to start with a just the upstream directory and progress trough the various errors and warnings we get during the build process using dpkg-buildpackage. The outcome is of course very basic, but enough to get people ready to do things on their own, including various QA tests on the package (e.g. lintian and debdiff).
The presentation covers the important points of the 3 main files in the debian directory: control, changelog and rules. It addition it holds some information about the various tools one can used to test the packages. I hope to make another version of the presentation to be more standalone than just having the main points during the talk itself.