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Problems, that occur when changing the orig-tarball
If you take just the .diff.gz and .dsc, you or someone else has no means to reproduce the changes in the orig-tarball.
No easy way to upgrade to a new upstream version.
3) debian <-> ubuntu
Differing orig-tarballs make it hard to automatically sync from debian to ubuntu.
4) Usage of VCS for debian package
If you use svn (svn-buildpackage) (I guess that counts for other VCS as well, although I don't have experience there yet) to handle your debian package, you usually don't store the orig-tarball inside. If s.o. else will do a checkout, he'll need to get the orig-tarball seperately... (see point 1 from here on).
5) security tracking
Consider a situation, where s.o. *wants* to introduce a backdoor/rootkit or other evil stuff. If the orig-tarball is intact, I can easily scan through the .diff.gz and see if the one who debianized the package tries to do s.th. evil. If the orig-tarball is changed however, I also need to check the differences between the tarball and the really original source if I want to check if the one who debianized the software introduces evil stuff. (note that you still have to trust upstream for not doing evil things here, but this is valid whether the orig is unchanged or not).
6) You already have the option to use the .diff.gz to reflect changes to the orig-tarball.
Under what circumstances can the orig-tarball be changed and when it shouldn't be
upstream tarball contains (non-free) stuff, that cannot be redistributed -> remove the portions of non-free stuff
directory layout wrong -> dpkg-source is quite flexible with this and manages to produce the correct directory layout even if
the directory inside the tarball is not named <upstream>-<version>
- there is no subdirectory inside the tarball
- files that need to be removed to keep the .diff.gz small (e.g. autotools-stuff):
- everything, that needs to be deleted, should be done in the clean rule. Since the .diff.gz is created with diff -u, you'll not see removed files in .diff.gz
- files to be modified
always need to go into .diff.gz. That's the purpose of it
- wrong permissions on files
These won't be represented in .diff.gz. However you have the means to change this in debian/rules. <evilcynicalmode> If you don't know how to do it with cdbs, use debhelper!</evilcynicalmode>
- What to do with .orig.tar.gz which already include a debian/ dir?
- Do not repackage. Ask upstream to delete the debian/ dir and provide a diff.gz instead. This makes it easier to review his upstream work, his packaging work and your packaging work.
Kind of allowed
- upstream provides only bzip2
- just do bunzip2 on the .tar.bz2 and gzip -9 on the tar.
the md5sums of the .tar you provide and the original .tar must match!
- eventually provide get-orig-source in debian/rules, that does this converting
- FIXME can a watch file handle this?
- directly imported from svn
- provide get-orig-source in debian/rules
- FIXME watch file?
P.S.: It's always a good idea to contact upstream and ask him if he can correct stuff like autoconf-issues or directory layout (or old FSF-adress) or other things, you need to "patch" afterwards in .diff.gz.