Debian packaging#

Intended audience

staff members who wants to start packaging some swh modules

Package repository#

A package repository is available on

Unstable / Testing:

deb [trusted=yes] unstable main

Stable / Bullseye:

deb [trusted=yes] bullseye-swh

Oldstable / Buster (current production):

deb [trusted=yes] buster-swh

This package repository is handled via reprepro on (base directory: /srv/softwareheritage/repository).

Uploading packages#

Packages are added to the repository using

reprepro -vb /srv/softwareheritage/repository processincoming incoming``.

For packages to be accepted, they need to be :

  1. A changes file uploaded to /srv/softwareheritage/repository/incoming:

  2. Targeted at one of the supported distributions (unstable, unstable-swh, buster, buster-backports, buster-backports-swh)

  3. Signed by one of the keys listed in /srv/softwareheritage/repository/conf/uploaders

Git repositories for Debian packages#

Our git repository structure for Debian packages is compatible with git-buildpackage.

We have two different ways of handling repositories for Debian packages:

  • Packages of python modules where we are upstream

  • Packages of dependencies from another upstream (this also encompasses upstream Debian packages that we wish to backport for deployment)

For these classes of packages, we have two sets of (identical) Jenkins jobs to handle building and uploading these packages to our package repository. The structure of the packaging branches for both classes is pretty much the same, the repositories only differ on how we handle upstream commits:

  • Our own modules are merged with the upstream repository

  • External dependencies ignore the upstream repository and only have packaging branches.

Branch and tags structure#

Our debian packaging Jenkins jobs expect the following branches, which are pretty close to what mandates:

  • debian/upstream (history of unpacked upstream releases)

  • debian/ (history of the packaging of the given suite, e.g. unstable-swh, buster-swh)

  • pristine-tar (data to regenerate upstream tarballs from a git export)

The name of the debian/upstream branch doesn’t matter as long as it’s properly configured in the debian/gbp.conf file. It’s only really used by gbp import-orig when importing a new release.

The tags marking upstream releases imported from tarballs for Debian packaging purposes are named debian/upstream/<upstream-version-number>.

Our Jenkins jobs are triggered on incoming tags named debian/<version>. To generate the proper tags, use gbp buildpackage --git-tag-only.

The git-buildpackage configuration, debian/gbp.conf, should be the following:


Automatic packaging for swh python modules#

The swh.* python modules have an extra jenkins job that updates the packaging automatically when we do an upstream release. This job only runs gbp import-orig with the tarball we release to PyPI, and the right options to merge the upstream history.

To merge changes from the upstream history, we add the following option to gbp.conf.


Bootstrapping the Debian packaging branches for a SWH package#

When introducing a new Python package in swh-environment, after the first release, one needs to bootstrap the Debian packaging branches to allow Jenkins to automatically build Debian packages.

To do so, swh-environment contains a bin/debpkg-bootstrap-branches script, which generates a basic Debian branch structure from an existing tag, and files in the debian-template/ directory.

Once the script has created the new unstable packaging branches, test the build locally following the instructions in the Local package building section of this documentation. Once you’ve handled any build issues (e.g. missing build-dependencies), you can tag the first debian release and push all branches so that Jenkins can do a clean build. The backports branches will get created automatically by the Jenkins jobs once the unstable build succeeds.

gbp buildpackage --git-tag-only --git-sign-tags
git push origin --set-upstream --follow-tags pristine-tar:pristine-tar debian/upstream:debian/upstream debian/unstable-swh:debian/unstable-swh

Bootstrapping a dependency packaging repository#

Bootstrapping the packaging repository for a dependency is analogous to regular Debian practices:

Download the upstream tarball. For PyPI, use the redirector at<pkgname>/:


Create a new git repository:

git init pytest-postgresql
cd pytest-postgresql

Import the original upstream version:

git checkout -b debian/unstable-swh
gbp import-orig --pristine-tar --upstream-branch=debian/upstream --upstream-tag=debian/upstream/%(version)s --debian-branch=debian/unstable-swh ../pytest-postgresql-1.3.4.tar.gz
# What will be the source package name? [pytest-postgresql]
# What is the upstream version? [1.3.4]
# gbp:info: Importing '../pytest-postgresql-1.3.4.tar.gz' to branch 'debian/upstream'...
# gbp:info: Source package is pytest-postgresql
# gbp:info: Upstream version is 1.3.4
# gbp:info: Successfully imported version 1.3.4 of ../pytest-postgresql-1.3.4.tar.gz

Bootstrap the debian directory:

mkdir -p debian/source
echo '3.0 (quilt)' > debian/source/format
echo 9 > debian/compat
cat > debian/gbp.conf << EOF
cp /usr/share/doc/debhelper/examples/rules.tiny debian/rules
vim debian/control
# [...] adapt debian/control from another package
dch --create --package pytest-postgresql --newversion 1.3.4-1+swh1 --distribution unstable-swh
vim debian/copyright
# [...] adapt debian/copyright from another package
git add debian
git commit -m "Initial packaging for pytest-postgresql"

You can then go on to try building the package.

gbp buildpackage --git-builder='sbuild -As'

Once the package builds, if you want to check your package’s conformance to Debian policy, you can run lintian on the changes:

lintian -EI ../pytest-postgresql_1.3.4-1+swh1_amd64.changes

Note that you have to ignore warnings about unknown distributions, as we’re building specifically for our repository.

We need to use a +swh1 version suffix to avoid clashing with potential upstream Debian package versions.

Bootstrapping the backport branches#

During most of the operation, backports should happen automatically as we have a Jenkins job that generates backports on successful builds. However, when creating a packaging repository, we need to bootstrap the branches once, before Jenkins is able to do the work automatically.

The backport branches should (ideally) be bootstrapped from a debian tag that has successfully built on Jenkins.

Checkout the new branch:

git checkout debian/<version-number>
git checkout -b debian/buster-swh

Update the gbp config to match the branch:

sed -i s/unstable-swh/buster-swh/ debian/gbp.conf

Generate the initial backports entry. Use the current Debian version number (10 for buster, 11 for bullseye, …)

dch -l "~bpo10" -D buster-swh --force-distribution 'Rebuild for buster-swh'

You should then be able to try a local package build, and if that succeeds, to push the tag for Jenkins to autobuild.

Setting up the repository on Phabricator#

Deprecation notice

This is no longer necessary as we migrated to gitlab

The repository on Phabricator needs the following settings:

  • Callsign: non-empty; prefix should be P according to Phabricator callsign convention

  • Short name: non-empty (used to make pretty git clone URLs; ideally matching the source package name)

  • Repository tags: “Has debian packaging branches” (allows Jenkins to push on the debian/* branches)

  • Policy:

    • View: Public (no login required)

    • Edit: Developers

    • Push: All users (actual restrictions are handled by Herald rules)

  • Activate the repository

  • Look up the path to the repository on the storage tab

You need to setup the post-receive hook for Jenkins to be able to trigger on tag pushes

ssh -p 2222 -t \
  phabricator-setup-hook /srv/phabricator/repos/<repo-id> <post-receive-hook>


  • there exists 3 types of hooks:

    • post-receive-swh-modules for swh modules developed by the team

    • post-receive-debian-deps for external modules packaged by the team

    • post-receive-swh-docker-image-modules for modules which creates docker images

  • remember that access to tate is on port 2222.

The repo ID can be found on the repo’s “storage” property page on phabricator, typically (for SHORTNAME in {model, core, loader-core, loader-core, storage, …}):

Setting up the Jenkins jobs#

The Jenkins jobs are accessible through the ui:

They are declared in the swh-jenkins-jobs repository.

Jobs for dependency packages are configured in jobs/dependency-packages.yaml. You can add a section as follows:

- project:
    name: <callsign>
    display-name: <short-name>
    pkg: <source-name>
    python_module: <python-module>
      - 'dependency-jobs-{name}'

For example:

- project:
    name: DLDBASE
    display-name: swh-loader-core
    repo_name: swh-loader-core
    pkg: loader.core
    python_module: swh.loader.core
      - 'swh-jobs-{name}'

Other samples can be found in the dedicated repository.

Use the regular review process to land your changes. Once your changes are pushed, a dedicated Jenkins job will generate the jobs from the configuration.

If your package needs extra repositories to build, you can add them as comma-separated values to the deb-extra-repositories setting, with the following notes:

  • When building packages for the “*.swh” suites, the Software Heritage Debian repository is automatically enabled.

  • When building packages for backports suites, the backports repository is automatically enabled.

Updating a dependency packaging repository#

Place yourself on the debian/unstable-swh branch and “gbp import-origin” a more recent upstream release tarballs.

For example (current version on 0.0.5, upstream bumped to 0.0.7):

gbp import-origin

This will update the following branches:

  • debian/upstream

  • pristine-tar

  • debian/unstable-swh

This also includes the necessary tags (debian/upstream/0.0.7).

You then need to push all branches/tags to the repository:

git push origin --all --follow-tags

Ensure the update builds fine And tags accordingly the debian/unstable-swh branch when ok.

Jenkins will then keep up on building the package.

Local package building#

To locally test a package build, go on the appropriate debian packaging branch, and run

gbp buildpackage --git-builder=sbuild -As --no-clean-source

gbp buildpackage passes all options not starting with --git- to the builder. Some useful options are the following:

  • --git-ignore-new builds from the working tree, with all the uncommitted changes. Useful for quick iteration when something just doesn’t work.

  • --no-clean-source doesn’t run debian/rules clean outside of the chroot, so you don’t have to clutter your dev machine with all build dependencies

  • --build-dep-resolver=aptitude can be necessary when using extra repositories, especially backports.

  • --extra-repository="repository specification" adds the given repository in the chroot before building.

  • --extra-repository-key="repository signing key" adds the given key as a trusted gpg key for package sources.

  • --extra-package=<.deb file or directory> makes the given package (or all .deb packages in the given directory) available for dependency resolution. Useful when testing builds with a dependency chain.

  • --force-orig-source forces addition of the .orig.tar.gz file in the .changes file (useful when trying to upload a backport)

See gbp help buildpackage and man sbuild for a full description of all options

For sid, it would be:

git checkout debian/unstable-swh
gbp buildpackage --git-builder=sbuild -As \
  --no-clean-source --force-orig-source \
  --extra-repository='deb [trusted=yes] unstable main'

or if you need some third-party repository, say cassandra (for swh-storage):

gbp buildpackage --git-builder=sbuild -As \
  --no-clean-source --force-orig-source \
  --extra-repository='deb [trusted=yes] unstable main' \
  --extra-repository='deb [arch=amd64 trusted=yes] 41x main'

For buster, it would be (note the usage of aptitude as resolver as the backports repository is used):

git checkout debian/buster-swh
gbp buildpackage --git-builder=sbuild -As --build-dep-resolver=aptitude \
  --no-clean-source --force-orig-source \
  --extra-repository='deb buster-backports main' \
  --extra-repository='deb [trusted=yes] buster-swh main'

For bullseye, it would be (also note the usage of aptitude as resolver as the backports repository is used):

git checkout debian/bullseye-swh
gbp buildpackage --git-builder=sbuild -As --build-dep-resolver=aptitude \
  --no-clean-source --force-orig-source \
  --extra-repository='deb bullseye-backports main' \
  --extra-repository='deb [trusted=yes] bullseye-swh main'


At time of writing, most software packages have no bullseye branch yet.

TODO: Rewrite bin/make-package as bin/swh-gbp-buildpackage wrapping gbp buildpackage with the most common options.

Remote package building#

Jenkins builds packages when the repository receives a tag.

Once the local build succeeds, tag the package with:

gbp buildpackage --git-tag-only --git-sign-tags

Alternatively, you can add the --git-tag option to your gbp buildpackage command so the tag happens automatically on a successful build.

Then, push your tag, and Jenkins jobs should get triggered

git push --tags

Build Environment setup#

Our automated packaging setup uses sbuild, which is also used by the Debian build daemons themselves. This section shows how to set it up for local use.

sbuild setup#

# Install the package
sudo apt-get install sbuild
# Add your user to the sbuild group, to allow him to use the sbuild commands
sudo sbuild-adduser $USER
# You have to logout and log back in
# Prepare chroots
sudo mkdir /srv/chroots
sudo mkdir /srv/chroots/var
# Optionally create a separate filesystem for /srv/chroots and move the
# sbuild/schroot data to that partition
sudo rsync -avz --delete /var/lib/schroot/ /srv/chroots/var/schroot/
sudo rm -r /var/lib/schroot
sudo ln -sf /srv/chroots/var/schroot /var/lib/schroot
sudo rsync -avz --delete /var/lib/sbuild/ /srv/chroots/var/sbuild/
sudo rm -r /var/lib/sbuild
sudo ln -sf /srv/chroots/var/sbuild /var/lib/sbuild
# end optionally
# Create unstable/sid chroot
sudo sbuild-createchroot --include apt-transport-https,ca-certificates sid /srv/chroots/sid
# Create bullseye chroot
sudo sbuild-createchroot --include apt-transport-https,ca-certificates bullseye /srv/chroots/bullseye
# Create buster chroot
sudo sbuild-createchroot --include apt-transport-https,ca-certificates buster /srv/chroots/buster

If you use /etc/hosts to resolve * hosts:

echo hosts >> /etc/schroot/sbuild/nssdatabases

schroot setup#

Now that the sbuild base setup is done. You now need to configure schroot to use an overlay filesystem, which will avoid copying the chroots at each build.

You need to update the configuration (in /etc/schroot/chroot.d/*-sbuild-*) with the following directives:


This allows the sbuild group to edit the contents of the source chroot (for instance to update it) and sets up the overlay.

You should also use this opportunity to add “aliases” to your chroot, so that sbuild will directly support the distributions we’re using (unstable-swh, buster-backports-swh, …):

For unstable:


For bullseye:


For buster:


dependencies cache#

Add the following line to schroot’s fstab /etc/schroot/sbuild/fstab to permit reuse of existing fetched dependencies:

/var/cache/apt/archives /var/cache/apt/archives none rw,bind 0 0

You can also run apt-cacher-ng, which will avoid locking issues when several chroots try to access the package cache at once. You then need to add the proxy configuration to apt by adding a file in /etc/apt/apt.conf.d on each chroot.

schroot update#

You should update your chroot environments once in a while (to avoid repeating over and over the same step during your package build):

sudo sbuild-update -udcar sid; sudo sbuild-update -udcar buster

environment setup#

The Debian tools use a few variables to preset your name and email. Add this to your .<shell>rc:

export DEBFULLNAME="Debra Hacker"

Make sure this data matches an uid for your GPG key. Else, you can use the DEBSIGN_KEYID= variable. (Future version of gpg2, e.g. 2.2.5 can refuse to sign with the short key id).

overlay in tmpfs for faster builds#

You can add this to your fstab to put the overlay hierarchy in RAM:

tmpfs /var/lib/schroot/union/overlay tmpfs uid=root,gid=root,mode=0750,nr_inodes=0 0 0