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Packaging Guide

1. Introdução ao desenvolvimento Ubuntu

Ubuntu is made up of thousands of different components, written in many different programming languages. Every component - be it a software library, a tool or a graphical application - is available as a source package. Source packages in most cases consist of two parts: the actual source code and metadata. Metadata includes the dependencies of the package, copyright and licensing information, and instructions on how to build the package. Once this source package is compiled, the build process provides binary packages, which are the .deb files users can install.

Every time a new version of an application is released, or when someone makes a change to the source code that goes into Ubuntu, the source package must be uploaded to Launchpad’s build machines to be compiled. The resulting binary packages then are distributed to the archive and its mirrors in different countries. The URLs in /etc/apt/sources.list point to an archive or mirror. Every day images are built for a selection of different Ubuntu flavours. They can be used in various circumstances. There are images you can put on a USB key, you can burn them on DVDs, you can use netboot images and there are images suitable for your phone and tablet. Ubuntu Desktop, Ubuntu Server, Kubuntu and others specify a list of required packages that get on the image. These images are then used for installation tests and provide the feedback for further release planning.

Ubuntu’s development is very much dependent on the current stage of the release cycle. We release a new version of Ubuntu every six months, which is only possible because we have established strict freeze dates. With every freeze date that is reached developers are expected to make fewer, less intrusive changes. Feature Freeze is the first big freeze date after the first half of the cycle has passed. At this stage features must be largely implemented. The rest of the cycle is supposed to be focused on fixing bugs. After that the user interface, then the documentation, the kernel, etc. are frozen, then the beta release is put out which receives a lot of testing. From the beta release onwards, only critical bugs get fixed and a release candidate release is made and if it does not contain any serious problems, it becomes the final release.


Thousands of source packages, billions of lines of code, hundreds of contributors require a lot of communication and planning to maintain high standards of quality. At the beginning and in the middle of each release cycle we have the Ubuntu Developer Summit where developers and contributors come together to plan the features of the next releases. Every feature is discussed by its stakeholders and a specification is written that contains detailed information about its assumptions, implementation, the necessary changes in other places, how to test it and so on. This is all done in an open and transparent fashion, so you can participate remotely and listen to a videocast, chat with attendants and subscribe to changes of specifications, so you are always up to date.

Not every single change can be discussed in a meeting though, particularly because Ubuntu relies on changes that are done in other projects. That is why contributors to Ubuntu constantly stay in touch. Most teams or projects use dedicated mailing lists to avoid too much unrelated noise. For more immediate coordination, developers and contributors use Internet Relay Chat (IRC). All discussions are open and public.

Uma outra importante ferramenta de comunicação são os relatórios de erros. Sempre que um defeito é encontrado em um pacote ou parte da infraestrutura, um relatório de erro deve ser registrado no Launchpad. Todas as informações são coletadas nesse relatório, a sua importância, o status e atualização de para quem foi atribuído, quando necessário. Isto faz com que seja uma ferramenta efetiva para ficar em cima dos erros em um pacote ou projeto e organizar a carga de trabalho.

Most of the software available through Ubuntu is not written by Ubuntu developers themselves. Most of it is written by developers of other Open Source projects and then integrated into Ubuntu. These projects are called “Upstreams”, because their source code flows into Ubuntu, where we “just” integrate it. The relationship to Upstreams is critically important to Ubuntu. It is not just code that Ubuntu gets from Upstreams, but it is also that Upstreams get users, bug reports and patches from Ubuntu (and other distributions).

The most important Upstream for Ubuntu is Debian. Debian is the distribution that Ubuntu is based on and many of the design decisions regarding the packaging infrastructure are made there. Traditionally, Debian has always had dedicated maintainers for every single package or dedicated maintenance teams. In Ubuntu there are teams that have an interest in a subset of packages too, and naturally every developer has a special area of expertise, but participation (and upload rights) generally is open to everyone who demonstrates ability and willingness.

Ser um novo colaborador do Ubuntu não é tão intimidador como parece e pode ser uma experiência bastante compensadora. Não é apenas aprender algo novo e excitante, mas também sobre compartilhar a solução e resolver um problema para milhões de usuários.

Open Source Development happens in a distributed world with different goals and different areas of focus. For example there might be the case that a particular Upstream is interested in working on a new big feature while Ubuntu, because of the tight release schedule, is interested in shipping a solid version with just an additional bug fix. That is why we make use of “Distributed Development”, where code is being worked on in various branches that are merged with each other after code reviews and sufficient discussion.


No exemplo mencionado acima faria sentido incluir a versão existente do projeto no Ubuntu, adicionar uma correção de erro, colocá-lo no upstream para o seu próximo lançamento (se for possível) e inclui-lo na próxima versão do Ubuntu. Seria a melhor solução, uma situação onde todos saem ganhando.

To fix a bug in Ubuntu, you would first get the source code for the package, then work on the fix, document it so it is easy to understand for other developers and users, then build the package to test it. After you have tested it, you can easily propose the change to be included in the current Ubuntu development release. A developer with upload rights will review it for you and then get it integrated into Ubuntu.


Quando estiver tentando encontrar uma solução, normalmente é uma boa ideia verificar como o uspstream se o problema (ou uma possível solução) já é conhecida e, se não, fazer de tudo para que a solução seja um esforço coordenado.

Passos adicionais podem envolver fazer o backport da alteração para uma versão mais velha ainda suportada ou repassá-la ao upstream.

Os requisitos mais importantes para o sucesso no desenvolvimento do Ubuntu são: ter a habilidade de “fazer as coisas voltarem a funcionar”, não ter medo de ler documentação e fazer perguntas, jogar em equipe e gostar de trabalhar como detetive.

Good places to ask your questions are ubuntu-motu@lists.ubuntu.com and #ubuntu-motu on freenode.. You will easily find a lot of new friends and people with the same passion that you have: making the world a better place by making better Open Source software.