Improving packaging file detection in Debian

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2024-07-08 04:00:04

Debian packaging consists of a directory (debian/) containing a number of "hard-coded" filenames such as debian/control, debian/changelog, debian/copyright. In addition to these, many packages will also use a number of optional files that are named via a pattern such as debian/{{PACKAGE}}.install .

At a high level the patterns looks deceptively simple. However, if you start working on trying to automatically classify files in debian/ (which could be helpful to tell the user they have a typo in the filename), you will quickly realize these patterns are not machine friendly at all for this purpose.

To appreciate the problem fully, here is a primer on the pattern and all its issues. If you are already well-versed in these, you might want to skip the section.

The most common patterns are debian/package.stem or debian/stem and usually the go to example is the install stem ( a concrete example being debian/debhelper.install). However, the full pattern consists of 4 parts where 3 of them are optional.

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