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Packaging Guide

3. ubuntu-dev-tools: Tools for Ubuntu developers

ubuntu-dev-tools package is a collection of 30 tools created for making packaging work much easier for Ubuntu developers. It’s similar in scope to Debian devscripts package.

3.1. Setting up packaging environment

setup-packaging-environment command allows to interactively set up packaging environment, including setting environment variables, installing required packages and ensuring that required repositories are enabled.

3.2. Environment variables

3.2.1. Introducing yourself

ubuntu-dev-tools configurations can be set using environment variables. It’s used for example in changelogs. For example, to set e-mail address (and full name), use UBUMAIL variable. It overrides the DEBEMAIL and DEBFULLNAME variables used by devscripts. To learn ubuntu-dev-tools about you, open ~/.bashrc in text editor and add something like this:

export UBUMAIL="Marcin Mikołajczak <marcin@example.org>"

Now, save this file and restart your terminal or use source ~/.bashrc.

3.2.2. Changing preferred builder

Default builder is specified by UBUNTUTOOLS_BUILDER variable. To set between pbuilder (default), pbuilder-dist, and sbuild, change this variable. Example:


Save file and restart terminal.

You can also check whether to update the builder every time before building, by changing UBUNTUTOOLS_UPDATE_BUILDER from no (default) to yes.

3.3. Downloading source packages

ubuntu-dev-tools comes with pull-lp-source command, allowing to download source packages from Launchpad. Its usage is simple. To download latest source package for ubuntu-settings, use:

$ pull-lp-source ubuntu-settings

You can also specify release from which you want to download source or specify version of source package. -d option allows to download source package without extracting. A slightly more complex example would look like this:

$ pull-lp-source brisk-menu 0.5.0-1 -d

pull-debian-source package allows to do the same for Debian source packages. It has similar syntax.

3.4. Backporting packages

ubuntu-dev-tools provides backportpackage allowing us to backport a package from specified release of Ubuntu or Debian. For example, to backport bzr package from latest development release for your installed Ubuntu version, simply:

$ backportpackage -w . bzr

This command allows to use more options. To specify Ubuntu release for which you are going to backport a package, use -d  dest or --destination=DEST parameter, where DEST is Ubuntu release, for example xenial. You can specify more than one destination. In turn, -s SOURCE and --source=SOURCE specifies the Ubuntu or Debian release from which you are going to backport a package. -w DIR and --workdir=DIR specifies directory, where package files will be downloaded, unpacked and built. By default, it will create temporary directory that will be automatically deleted. -U or --update allows to update build environment before building package. -u or --upload allows to upload package after building (for example to PPAs) using dput.

3.5. Requesting backports

requestbackport command makes creating backports through Launchpad bugs much easier. It creates testing checklist that will be included in the bug. For example, to request backporting libqt5webkit5 from latest development branch to current stable release (without optional parameters):

$ requestbackport libqt5webkit5

You should fulfill the checklist if you have already tested the backport.

Additional options allows to specify destination of backport and its source, by using -d DEST or --destination=DEST and s SRC or --source=SRC.

3.6. Other simple commands

ubuntu-dev-tools also includes small utilities allowing to do simple tasks like checking whether .iso file is an Ubuntu installation media.

3.6.1. ubuntu-iso

To do this, use ubuntu-iso <pathtoiso>, for example:

$ ubuntu-iso ~/Downloads/ubuntu.iso

3.6.2. bitesize

“Bitesize” tag is used on Launchpad to describe tasks that are suitable for begineers who want to contribute to one of the projects. bitesize command allows to add “bitesize” tag to Launchpad bug with just simple command, by providing its number, like:

$ bitesize 1735410

3.6.3. 404main

404main allows to check whether all of package build dependencies are included in main repository of specified Ubuntu distribution. Example:

$ 404main libqt5webkit5 xenial

If any of the required packages isn’t part of Ubuntu main repository, you can check whether the package fulfill Ubuntu main inclusion requirements and request it.

3.6.4. Further reading

ubuntu-dev-tools manpages are covering more about usage of this package.