[pacman-dev] Discussion on changelogs

Allan McRae allan at archlinux.org
Sat Feb 8 20:02:55 EST 2014

On 07/02/14 18:39, Jerome Leclanche wrote:
> Hi list
> The subject came up at FOSDEM on a packaging discussion. I thought
> it'd be worth bringing up here.
> Pacman has extremely basic and non-advertised support for changelogs.
> These are maintainer changelogs, not upstream changelogs, and seem to
> be completely useless. In fact, in my 900~ package install, only iotop
> and zsh-syntax-highlighting have a changelog at all and they all list
> "Updated to release ...".

Pacman also has "unadvertised" delta support.  No need to remove it
because it is not used...

> My personal recommendation, and what makes the most sense, is to allow
> for (and highly recommend) upstream changelogs. If there is a
> changelog file, that can be displayed in pacman -Qc (regardless of its
> format).
> There is also the subject of online-only changelogs. Should they be
> downloaded, or should -Qc display "Read the changelog at http://..."?
> My first thought is that's up to the packager/maintainer, they would
> know better on a per-package basis.

I'll just point out as an Arch dev and not a pacman one, that Arch will
probably never include a ChangeLog in their packages.  Extra maintenance
burden like this is generally seen as unnecessary.

> Debian is really good with its packaging changelogs. Afaik they're the
> only distro that properly uses them. They're a lot less relevant to
> arch linux due to the very nature of the distro ("trust upstream") but
> I don't think they're useless; in fact, we should probably distinguish
> packaging and upstream changelogs.

Looking at Debian.  They supply a packaging changelog exactly like what
is available in pacman (viewed by dch -v version-revision or dch -i).
So the advantage there is that they can just display the appropriate
part of the ChangeLog file.  I guess that requires the file format to be
quite strict.

Debian also puts that upstream ChangeLog/NEWS etc in
/usr/share/doc/package.  Again, this is nothing that can not be done in
makepkg already, and is a distribution policy matter.

Lets look at rpm.   rpm -q --changelog <pkg> displays the packaging
changelog.   I'm not sure that they have an option to display the
changes in a given version only.  Including upstream changelogs is a
distributional decision.

In conclusion, we have the same support for ChangeLog that every other
package manager has.  And I am convinced that the changelog for the
package is the changelog a package manager should display.

Whether to include a packaging changelog at all and what format it is in
is a distribution decision.  Whether to also include an upstream
development changelog in the package is also a distributional decision.

I see nothing that needs changed in makepkg/pacman.


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