This page outlines aspects to take care while creating a derivative Debian distribution.
For now it is just an outline to collect relevant information which could be formalized later on in the form of Specification.
Derivative Debian distributions vary in the domains of their specialization, user base, and the scale of modifications/extension they bring on top of vanilla Debian distribution. Therefore, there might not be a strict deterministic set of rules, and rather a set of guidelines could help to decide which actions should be taken by the developers of the derivative distribution to not inflict Debian, and, moreover, benefit from the Debian infrastructure/resources/frameworks where applicable.
We encourage derivative distributions to mention and define their relationship with Debian on the web page that gives information about the derivative distro (usually the about page).
We encourage derivative distributions to use Debian infrastructure and the software that powers Debian infrastructure where possible.
For those derivatives that re-use Debian binary packages, add some source packages and modify some source packages, where possible we encourage them to use standard Debian mirrors and add a second repository containing only the source and binary packages that have been added or modified.
For those derivatives that rebuild Debian source packages, add some source packages and modify some source packages, where possible we encourage them to use standard Debian mirrors for the source packages and add a second repository containing only the source and binary packages that have been added or modified. This recommendation may be hard to do and therefore regular source package syncing is an alternative recommendation.
Of course in both cases it is a good idea to run a Debian mirror to ensure source and binary availability. Any exact mirrors of Debian source and or binary packages should be registered with the Debian mirrors list.
If you are copying Debian source packages to your repositories without modifying them, please leave the signatures in place in the .dsc files, do not re-sign them with your own keys.
Please create your own keyring packages instead of patching the Debian keyring packages.
If your derivative is based on Debian stable releases, please start your release testing process at least when the Debian freeze happens or do regular release testing during the whole Debian release cycle.
When you make a suite/release obsolete and unsupported, please move it out of your regular apt repository and place it on a different hostname (such as archive.example.org) or URL (such as ftp.example.org/archive).
If you have a constant number of releases, please give them suite names which should be aliased/symlinked to codenames. In Debian we use oldstable, stable, testing, unstable and experimental, which are aliased to release names like lenny, squeeze, wheezy, sid and rc-buggy.
Please remove old packages from your main repository. Should you want to keep them available for users, please move them to a repository solely for old packages (such as snapshot.example.org).
Derivative distributions must not be named Debian
Current Debian trademark policy states: To be fair to all businesses, we insist that no business use the name "Debian" in the name of the business, or a domain name of the business.
Depending on the degree of divergence from the vanilla Debian, it might be necessary to introduce non-functional modifications in the deployed system to eliminate user confusion of the derivative distribution with vanilla Debian
Following packages along with corresponding files present users with Debian name upon interaction with the system
- /etc/dpkg/origins/default (symlink to distribution information file)
- package root/build/boot/x86/ (branding, references to 'Debian on all the fnumber screens')
- package root/build/config/local (override various strings)
- will probably need customisation for the install images.
- uses the debian logo for indicating packages
talks about dfsg and debian release (eg, squeeze). don't know if this counts
- GDM / KDM / LightDM (etc) branding
- Default background (GNOME, Xfce, KDE, etc)
GRUB background & theme
- Plymouth bootsplash
- ksplash branding
- Debian syslinux branding
- ldm theme stuff
- "Debian official use logo" with "Debian" word has usage restrictions: "This logo or a modified version may be used by anyone to refer to the Debian project, but does not indicate endorsement by the project. "
Rebuilt Debian packages should carry distribution specific version suffix to avoid confusion with possibly API/ABI-incompatible original packages provided from Debian archives.
When modifying source packages, rename the Maintainer field to XSBC-Original-Maintainer and add a new Maintainer field.
Since Debian bug tracking system should not be used directly to report bugs in the derivative distributions, submitted bugreports should not be sent directly against Debian packages. reportbug could either be switched (add a Bugs: field to the /etc/dpkg/origins/<distro> file or see /usr/share/doc/reportbug/README.developers.gz) or patched (please do not forget to make patch generic and submit it to Debian) to use some other bug tracking system/server; alternatively different address to submit reports could be specified per each source package in the Bugs field of source portion in debian/control file.
Specific choice among above scenarios depends on the degree to which derivative distribution is changing/extending vanilla Debian system. For example, if the derivative does not introduce heavy reconfiguration of the stock Debian system, nor provides custom builds of non-leaf packages -- it should be sufficient to provide custom Bugs: header fields only in rebuilt/new packages. If some base Debian libraries get customized/rebuilt and/or heavy re-configuration of the default Debian system in place, it is advised that all bugreports get submitted to the maintainers of the derivative distribution first for the analysis.
We encourage derivatives to forward bug reports to the Debian bug tracker after checking that the issues still apply to Debian. When forwarding bugs you should file the bug on a Debian system so that the bug metadata is correct. You may want to use this set of usertags when forwarding bugs and patches to us:
origin-<distro>: set this on all bugs/patches you forward
patch-<distro>: set this when forwarding a patch
release-<distro>-<name>: set this if you want to indicate that it is related to one of your current or future releases
feature-<distro>-<name>: set this if you want to indicate that it is related to one of your planned features
transition-<distro>-<name>: set this if you want to indicate that it is related to one of your planned transitions
If you want to become the collector of popcon submissions, please do not simply divert popcon submissions from the default popcon.debian.org to your server. Multiple target popcon servers could be listed in SUBMITURLS. In case your derivative has a large number of users the popcon maintainers may ask you to divert all your submissions to a different site.
Currently Debian does not have a way to differentiate between popcon submissions by Debian users from submissions by users of derivatives. Work is ongoing to fix that issue but for now we would prefer that derivatives with large amounts of popcon submitters who don't yet comply with this suggestion (such as Ubuntu) should continue to have their popcon submissions sent to their separate popcon instance only and not to Debian's instance.
- Debian would benefit from more adequate status on the usage of the work of Debian community
If apt package in the derivative carries custom suffix (since per se no other distribution-specific information is included in the popcon submissions) it could allow Debian to discover the most popular derivatives and provide some nice statistics of the usage beyond stock Debian
- Niche packages, which might not be very popular in stock Debian, could be more actively used in a specialized derivative distribution. Having adequate popcon statistic in Debian would guarantee that the package would not be removed from stock Debian, thus offloading maintenance burden on the interested derivative
- Debian's popcon, unlike some other deployed popcon servers, might provide additional information (e.g. historical data) which might not be exposed on the derivative's popcon website for some reason.
Debian is happy that our distribution is a good base for derivatives and we welcome contributions from derivatives as we do for everyone. The most useful kind of contributions are for you to work with us to improve Debian (distribution, community and project), in particular to have your code changes integrated into Debian or directly upstream where applicable. If you or your sponsors want to contribute financial or other donations to Debian, we appreciate that too. You can donate using several methods documented on the Debian website. We usually use money for hardware purchases, development meetings, the annual Debian conference and other things.