Getting A Package Sponsored in Debian

I recently had the pleasure of being among the first to use the new sponsorship system in Debian.

For a non-insider (that is, someone who is not an official Debian Developer), getting a package into the Debian distribution and, by proxy, into the Ubuntu distribution requires getting the attention of someone with sufficient interest and privilege to do the actual upload. It’s called finding a sponsor in Debian parlance, and it’s sometimes a bit of a challenge.

The traditional approach for the last while is to build a source package for your software, make it available somewhere over the internet, and then post a message to the debian-mentors@lists.debian.org mailing list and hope that someone takes the bait. This is usually followed by pleads in IRC and follow-up messages to the mainling list.

Recently, a new workflow was set up in which you file a bug against the sponsorship-requests pseudopackage and hope that someone is interested. Among the advantages of this new workflow is that (a) it’s similar to other Debian workflows you need to learn when packaging software for Debian (for example, the WNPP pseudo-package) and (2) there is a place where sponsorship requests are aggregated.

It’s a fast, easy to use, and (in my experience) effective way to find a sponsor for your package in Debian. Here’s the basic workflow you need to follow.

  1. State your intention by filing and ITP or ITA bug with WNPP.
  2. Package your software.
  3. Upload the source package to mentors.debian.net.
  4. Use reportbug or send an email to submit@bugs.debian.org with a carefully formatted message — see this for an example.  There is no reportbug template available for the sponsorship-requests pseudo-package, so using your usual mail program will probably be easier for now.
  5. When your new bug is confirmed, link to to your WNPP bug if necessary (and it should be necessary). The command “bts affects SRbug + src:srcpkg . block WNPPbug by SRbug” will do.
  6. Sit back and wait.

This new workflow is remarkably similar to filing an upload request through Launchpad.  I assure you it’s a complete coincidence and convergent evolution at work.

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