GNOME 2.2 backports for Woody Policy Proposal

This article was first written in September 2004 for the BeezNest technical
website (
We made a proposal for a policy about backporting packages of GNOME 2.2 for Debian Woody. We discussed a lot about it, and in the end, we were so near from the release of Sarge, that we decided to no longer spend time on the backport, but rather on getting Sarge the best generalist distribution available. Anyway, here is the text:

GNOME 2.2 Woody Backport Policy

  • release any work done on it under GPL
  • use the standard GCC from Woody (2.95.4) if possible, or GCC 3.0 from Woody to build packages. Mozilla and browsers based on it must be compiled with 2.95.4 for plugin compatibility
  • explain on an open web page any important choice taken in the backport and clear installation instructions
  • notify the upstream maintainer about any problems in his/her package that is not specific to the backport (like overly numbered dependencies versions or missing (build)dependencies) by the way of BTS
  • only apply patches if a bug report has been opened with the patch attached (and add the bugreport # to the changelog in this case). Patches should be for crash bugs only, unless discussed on the web page (see below)
  • do not exceed package version in sid/unstable (for those not listed on unless there is a security fix or major bugfix. In this case, issue bug report in BTS informing package maintainer of new package. When package is available in sid/unstable, update backport to use this package (in other words, try to avoid packages and versions that don't exist in Sarge/Sid)
  • do not backport any unnecessary library which results in orphaned packages
  • do not break woody packages. If backporting a package breaks a Woody package, then either rebuild the Woody package, backport the package from Sarge/Sid, or provide a compat package. If package cannot be fixed with one of the above methods, document that the package is broken on the web site. This should be a last resort
  • supply backports of XFree86 4.2 with backport, since fontconfig and others cannot use XFree86 as shipped with Woody. Also supply libxft2 2.1, fontconfig 2.1 and pango compiled against freetype 2.0.9. Newer freetype breaks packages. As a result of the above, XFree86 4.3 cannot be supplied (it requires freetype >= 2.1)
  • make every effort to maintain compatibility with semi-official [?] at (this should be maintained by keeping freetype dependency at 2.0.9)
  • make sure packages upgrade to Sarge without problems
  • use following numbering scheme: downloaded Sid version -1.jdsX. For example, if Sid version is 1.2.3-4, the backport version is 1.2.3-3jds1. Backport fixes results in incrementing jdsX
  • document changes to packaging where significantly different from Sid on web page
  • make sure backport is self-contained. In other words, no other backports are required-- only official Woody and security updates for Woody are required.