OpenSuse Build Service: Problems building Debian packages

suse-chameleon
After successfully building packages for OpenSuse and Fedora I thought about building Debian/xbuntu packages. But it turned out this task is more difficult than I expected. However, in the future the OBS might help with this task.

For me the main advantage of the OBS is that it helps building packages for more than one distribution. And it works quite well for me for OpenSuse and Fedodra packages.
However, the real interesting part begins when you leave rpm based distributions behind and start building packages for a totally different package system. Therefore I looked into building packages for Debian and xbuntu.

But the OBS is currently not much more than a build platform – you have to provide configuration files and everything else by yourself. Nothing is prepared for you, so you are on your own. That also means you need experience in building the package type you want.
And now comes one of the main problems of dpkg packages: the creation of them require certain tools you only have on a dpkg based system. While the entire configuration needed to build a rpm is handled by a single text file (the spec file) the Debian package tutorial uses helper scripts and a variety of different configuration files and directories. So to package dpkgs with OBS you still need to know everything about packaging dpkgs – and a running dpkg based distribution. And that’s exactly what I’m missing here and also what I wanted to avoid. And it means that the OBS does not help as much as I hoped.

Anyway, I think I will start playing around with building some simple packages in a VM to get the idea. Can’t hurt to know more about both worlds.

And the future of the OBS might still hold some very helpful features in this regard: it is still in development, and there are projects under way to evaluate if it might be possible to generate package build configurations out of some kind of meta data. Imagine an interface where you just have to enter the needed data for example into a xml file. The OBS would afterwards create all needed spec files and dpkg configuration files for you out of the XML file data.
While nothing is written in stone yet such a feature would make very much sense – and would again help spreading software on Linux.

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