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Bits from the Lintian maintainers

The best news about Lintian is that Raphael Geissert has joined the team as an additional Lintian maintainer. Raphael has been making suggestions
and contributing patches to Lintian since 2007 and has done a ton of work
on as varying of areas as pedantic tag support, bashism detection, init
script analysis, spelling checks, lintian.d.o archive area support, and
the core checking infrastructure. Just merged for the next release is his
refactoring of the unpacking of packages so that it can be better-managed
by Lintian’s internal ordering and dependency system. Upcoming will be
starting checks as soon as the required data for the check has been
gathered and improving the parallelism of data collection.

New Lintian Options
===================

Lintian 2.3.0, uploaded to unstable last Saturday, adds several new
command-line options that may be of general interest.

-F or –ftp-master-rejects displays only those tags which may result in an
automated reject by the Debian archive software. The tag list is based on
the YAML file provided by the FTP team. Currently, the tag list is only
updated with each Lintian release, so be aware that it may not track
recent changes.

–suppress-tags and –suppress-tags-from-file can be used to specify tags
that should not be displayed, regardless of severity or overrides. These
options were added for Emdebian and should be useful for any other Debian
subproject or local packaging work that has different requirements than
Debian Policy. The options can also be used if there’s some particular
Lintian tag that you think has too many false positives or isn’t useful
and never want to see (although please also let us know about that problem
if it’s not already been discussed).

lintian.debian.org Improvements
===============================

Thanks to code contributed by Raphael Geissert, Lintian now understands
retrieving package lists from multiple archive areas. This means that
lintian.debian.org is now checking the contrib and non-free archive areas
as well as main. Packages in archive areas other than main will have the
archive area noted next to the version number in the Lintian report page.
(There is a lingering bug that adds a semicolon to the version number for
some packages in main that will hopefully be fixed in the next release.)

The data file used by lintian.debian.org to provide data to the Package
Tracking System now contains counts of all tags for each package rather
than only errors and warnings. The new format of the file is:

E W I P X O

where each letter corresponds to the count of tags in that classification
(errors, warnings, info, pedantic, experimental, and overridden). This
file is at .

The lintian.debian.org reports have just been regenerated with Lintian
2.3.0, which contained substantial fixes and multiple new tags. We’re
coming up quickly on the archive freeze for squeeze, so now is a good time
to look over your Lintian report and see if there’s anything that you want
to fix before the next stable release.

Known Issues in 2.3.0
=====================

Lintian has for some time warned about ${misc:Depends} missing from the
package dependencies only if debhelper programs that may set
${misc:Depends} are in use. As of debhelper 7.4.2, dh_installdocs may now
set ${misc:Depends} (only if –link-doc is used, but Lintian 2.3.0 doesn’t
realize that), which means that essentially every package that uses
debhelper and didn’t have this dependency will now get a warning. Since
any debhelper command may add dependencies to ${misc:Depends} at any time,
we’re leaning towards having Lintian uniformly recommend the
${misc:Depends} dependency for all packages using debhelper.

Lintian 2.3.0 misclassifies spelling errors in manual pages as having a
severity of normal instead of minor, which means you may see lots of
warnings about upstream spelling errors. This will be corrected to minor
in the next release, which will change those tags to info instead of
warning.

There are a few problems in a new analysis script in Lintian 2.3.0 with
dangling symlinks named *.a or *.a files that aren’t ar archives. These
will also be fixed in the next release.

The next Lintian release is planned for tomorrow, January 2nd.

Helping Out
===========

More hands are always welcome! Lintian is a nice project to work on when
one only has an hour or two, since a lot of the requested checks don’t
require very much code. Work on the test suite is also much appreciated
and doesn’t require a large time investment. If you want to help out,
take a look at the wiki page at:

http://wiki.debian.org/Teams/Lintian

We’re also looking for someone who would like to tackle converting the
Lintian manual to Docbook instead of DebianDoc-SGML and working on
updates. There’s quite a bit about Lintian that isn’t currently
documented. If you’re interested, let us know.

If you have any ideas for new tests that would be helpful to you, please
do submit them as wishlist bugs against the lintian package. It’s nice to
have a large collection of ideas known to be useful to someone to pick
From when one has a few hours to work on Lintian.

– Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)

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