Chapter 2. Prerequisites

Table of Contents

2.1. People around Debian
2.2. How to contribute
2.3. Debianにおける社会ダイナミクス
2.4. Technical reminders
2.5. Debian documentation
2.6. Help resources
2.7. Archive situation
2.8. Contribution approaches
2.9. Novice contributor and maintainer

Here are the prerequisites which you need to understand before you to get involved with Debian.

Debian 界隈では異なる役割で色々なタイプの人が交流しています:

  • upstream author (アップストリームの作者): 元のプログラムを作った人です。
  • upstream maintainer (アップストリームのメンテナー): 現在プログラムをメンテナンスしている人です。
  • maintainer (メンテナー): プログラムの Debian パッケージを作成している人です。
  • sponsor (スポンサー): メンテナーのパッケージを、(内容をチェックした後で)公式 Debian パッケージアーカイブにアップロードするのを手伝う人です。
  • mentor (指導役): 新米メンテナーをパッケージを作成等で手助けする人です。
  • Debian Developer (Debian デベロッパー) (DD): 公式 Debian パッケージアーカイブへの全面的アップロード権限を持っているDebian プロジェクトのメンバーです。
  • Debian Maintainer (Debian メンテナー) (DM): 公式 Debian パッケージアーカイブへの限定的アップロード権限持っている人です。

Please note that you can’t become an official Debian Developer (DD) overnight, because it takes more than technical skill. Please do not be discouraged by this. If it is useful to others, you can still upload your package either as a maintainer through a sponsor or as a Debian Maintainer.

Please note that you do not need to create any new packages to become an official Debian Developer. Contributing to the existing packages can provide a path to becoming an official Debian Developer too. There are many packages waiting for good maintainers (see Section 2.8, “Contribution approaches”).

Please refer to the following to learn how to contribute to Debian:

Please understand Debian’s social dynamics to prepare yourself for interactions with Debian:

  • 我々全員はボランティアです。

    • You can’t impose on others what to do.
    • 自分自身で行う意欲を持つべきです。
  • 友好的な協力が推進力です。

    • Your contribution should not over-strain others.
    • あなたの寄与は他人に評価されて初めて価値があります。
  • Debian は教師の注意が自動的にあなたに注がれるあなたの学校とは違います。

    • 多様な案件の独学能力を持つべきです。
    • 他ボランティアに注意を払ってもらうことは貴重なリソースです。
  • Debian は常に改良されています。

    • あなたには高品質パッケージを作成することが期待されています。
    • You should adapt yourself to change.

Since we focus only on the technical aspects of the packaging in the rest of this guide, please refer to the following to understand the social dynamics of Debian:

Here are some technical reminders to accommodate other maintainers to work on your package easily and effectively to maximize the output of Debian as a whole.

[Note] Note

Debugging of software tends to consume more time than writing the initial working software.

Please make yourself ready to read the pertinent part of the official Debian documentation together with this guide as needed to generate perfect Debian packages:

If this guide contradicts the official Debian documentation, the official Debian documentation is correct. Please file a bug report on the debmake-doc package using the reportbug command.

Here are alternative tutorial documents, which you may read along with this guide:

[Tip] Tip

When reading these tutorials, you should consider using the debmake command in place of the dh_make command for better template files.

Before you decide to ask your question in some public place, please do your part of the effort, i.e., read the fine documentation:

Your desired information can be found effectively by using a well-formed search string such as “keyword” to limit the search domain of the web search engine.

Making a small test package is a good way to learn details of the packaging. Inspecting existing well maintained packages is the best way to learn how other people make packages.

If you still have questions about the packaging, you can ask them interactively:

あなたがするべき努力をした後に適切に質問すれば、より経験を持った Debian デベロッパーは喜んで助けてくれるでしょう。

[Caution] Caution

Debian development is a moving target. Some information found on the web may be outdated, incorrect, and non-applicable. Please use it carefully.

Please realize the situation of the Debian archive.

  • Debian already has packages for most kinds of programs.
  • The number of packages already in the Debian archive is several tens of times greater than that of active maintainers.
  • Unfortunately, some packages lack an appropriate level of attention by the maintainer.

Thus, contributions to packages already in the archive are far more appreciated (and more likely to receive sponsorship for uploading) by other maintainers.

[Tip] Tip

The wnpp-alert command from the devscripts package can check for installed packages up for adoption or orphaned.

Here is pseudo-Python code for your contribution approaches to Debian with a program:

if exist_in_debian(program):
  if is_team_maintained(program):
  if is_orphaned(program) # maintainer: Debian QA Group
  elif is_RFA(program) # Request for Adoption
    if need_help(program):
else: # new packages
  if not is_good_program(program):
  elif not is_distributable(program):
  else: # worth packaging
    if is_ITPed_by_others(program):
      if need_help(program):
    else: # really new
      if is_applicable_team(program):
      if is_DFSG(program) and is_DFSG(dependency(program)):
        file_ITP(program, area="main") # This is Debian
      elif is_DFSG(program):
        file_ITP(program, area="contrib") # This is not Debian
      else: # non-DFSG
        file_ITP(program, area="non-free") # This is not Debian


You either need to file an ITP or adopt a package to start working on it. See the “Debian Developer’s Reference”:

The novice contributor and maintainer may wonder what to learn to start your contribution to Debian. Here are my suggestions depending on your focus:

  • Packaging

    • Basics of the POSIX shell and make.
    • Some rudimentary knowledge of Perl and Python.
  • Translation

    • Basics of how the PO based translation system works.
  • Documentation

    • Basics of text markups (XML, ReST, Wiki, …).

The novice contributor and maintainer may wonder where to start your contribution to Debian. Here are my suggestions depending on your skills:

These activities should give you good exposure to the other Debian people to establish your credibility.

The novice maintainer should avoid packaging programs with the high security exposure:

  • setuid or setgid program
  • daemon program
  • program installed in the /sbin/ or /usr/sbin/ directories

When you gain more experience in packaging, you’ll be able to package such programs.

[4] The overwhelming number of Debian maintainers use git over other VCS systems such as hg, bzr, etc.

[5] This is not the absolute requirement. The hostile upstream may become a major resource drain for us all. The friendly upstream can be consulted to solve any problems with the program.