Miriam Ruiz
random thoughts on technology and life











{May 01, 2007}   Debian multiple binary packages: example

I remember that when I started making Debian packages, one of the things I found more difficult was to get information about how multiple binary packages should be done. It’s quite an important topic when packaging games, as most of games often consist of a small arch-dependent binary executable and a big bunch of arch-independent data that includes images, maps, models, textures, sound, music, fonts and so on.

I order to make it Debian-mirror-friendly, there’s no sense in multiplying all this arch-independent data by the number of architectures in Debian, and thus, most of the games shall be packaged as a small arch-dependent (any) package that includes the game itself, and a bigger arch-independent (all) one with all the data.

I’ve made a small hello-world example to ilustrate how to achieve that. The example uses autotools (1, 2, 3) for building, and consists of a small program that reads an arch-independent text file and prints it to the screen. Small enough to be a nice example, and with all the features needed to show what i mean to.

I won’t comment it in detail right now, but what rules do is to build the program with the default building system (./configure && make), install it in debian/tmp (make install DESTDIR=`pwd`/debian/tmp), and afterwards installing the files in their proper binary package directory. The resulting packages are described in debian/control. The example also includes menu and desktop descriptions and how to install an icon.

We should still find a way to avoid having to release a newer version of the data (usually much bigger in size than the code) when only a change in the code is done, but I doubt if there’s a global solution for that, or if it should be done in an individual per-package way.
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