[XML-SIG] Debian packages

Rob Tillotson n9mtb@concentric.net
02 Jul 1999 16:51:24 -0500

With the rather public discussion going on in gnu.misc.discuss about
Debian's development model, I thought I might as well introduce
myself and ask for feedback.

I am maintaining a Debian package of the Python XML tools developed by
the members of this SIG.  The package is version 0.5.1-2 (the -2 is
the Debian-specific part of the version number), based on the 0.5.1
version available on www.python.org.  I have made four packaging
changes, which should only be relevant to Debian systems:

  - it is compiled against the separately-installable libxmltok1,
    rather than the one that is included.  (Package dependencies are
    used to make sure it's installed on the user's machine.)

  - rather than compiling .pyc files at build time, only the .py
    files are shipped, and they are compiled by the local Python
    when the package is intalled.

  - during a discussion about bookmark exchange on debian-devel, a
    couple of people brought up XBEL as a workable solution.  To make
    it more accessible, I made it available in separate packages
    (built from the python-xml source) "xbel" and "xbel-utils", and
    put the DTD in the right place for SGML utilities to find it.  It
    was my hope that this might lead to wider use of xbel in Debian
    (we have at least one package which is basically just a Netscape
    bookmark file, we already have a package of Grail, etc.)... it
    hasn't happened yet, unfortunately, but I still think XBEL is a
    good idea ;-)

  - Debian's package manager allows partial replacements of existing
    packages, so the sgmllib.py and xmllib.py in python-xml actually
    replace the ones that come with Python.  (As long as python-xml is
    installed, of course; deinstall it, and the old ones come back.)

It is the last change which has the most potential to be
controversial, and I think I am about to back it out.  Recently, after
installing Python 1.5.2, I found that there have been changes to the
Python-standard sgmllib and xmllib, so that the replacements are no
longer necessarily strict *replacements*, so I should probably stop
doing this now... or perhaps I should make it an option that the
system administrator can toggle.  Opinions, anyone?  (I should point
out that no Debian users have said anything either way, so either they
haven't noticed, don't care, or aren't using the package ;-)

Anyway, I welcome feedback about my handling of the XML tools package.
I don't want to piss anyone off; I want Debian to have a powerful set
of SGML/XML tools available, and packaging python-xml is my
contribution to that.  I wish I could contribute more to the actual
development, but alas I am not quite that expert in XML yet (I'm quite
interested in using the tools, however, which is why I joined the SIG
to follow them).


Rob Tillotson  N9MTB  <n9mtb@concentric.net>