Specification Synopsis

This specification aims to add vendor-based customization for Lintian.

The specification is based on the debate from Lintian BoF from DC10; the initial proposal is available here. Suggestions for changes to the specification or implementation should be sent to the Lintian Team.

Note the implementation has been merged into master branch.


These are the requirements for the implementation of this specification.

The "Add vendor/3rd party checks" requirement is deferred for now and the specification will later be extended to include it.


Proposed Solution

We add a new directory to the Lintian root called "profiles" with the structure:


Profiles should be specified with a new command line argument --profile <profile> or the environment/lintianrc variable LINTIAN_PROFILE=<profile>.

Lintian will use dpkg-vendor (or Dpkg::Vendor) to determine the best possible default vendor if not explicitly given (as mentioned above). If Lintain cannot find a profile for the current vendor, it will try the parent until it runs out of options. In this case, Lintian shall fail.

<profile> should be specified as $VENDOR/$profile or $VENDOR. The latter being short for $VENDOR/main. The actual file name of the profile will be $VENDOR/$profile.profile and should be located in:


All of these directories (if they exist) are expected to have the same layout (as described above). Profile names cannot contain ".".

Profile file format

The general format is the same as always (same as our desc files or debian/control) - see The Policy Manual for more info:

Profile: <name>
Extends: <profile>
Enable-Tags-From-Check: <check>[, <check2> ...]
Disable-Tags-From-Check: <check>[, <check2> ...]
Enable-Tags: <tag>[, <tag2> ...]
Disable-Tags: <tag>[, <tag2> ...]

All fields are "folded", except for Profile and Extends, which are both "simple" fields. The semantics are:

Profile is required and contains the (machine-readable) name of the profile; this should be used in the output to identify the chosen profile.

Extends is optional and denotes the profile this profile is based on. Lintian will recursively process the extended profile before continuing with processing this profile. Said profile is located by traversing the profile directories (as listed above). In the absence of this field, the profile is not based on another profile.

A profile is considered invalid and is rejected if it (in)directly extends itself.

Enable-Tags-From-Check and Disable-Tags-From-Check are both optional. They respectively enable or disable all the tags within checks. The profile is invalid and is rejected, if it lists the same check twice - even if it is in the same field. However, it is valid to enable or disable a check that was (respectively) disabled or enabled by a profile extended by profile.

It is not an error to enable or disable a check that is already enabled or disabled (respectively).

Enable-Tag and Disable-Tag are both optional. They work analogous to Enable-Check and Disable-Check except they only affect a single tag. It is allowed to allowed to list a tag in Enable-Tag or Disable-Tag even if the check that provides this tag is listed in the Disable-Check or Enable-Check field. In case of conflict, Enable-Tag / Disable-Tag shall overrule Disable-Check / Enable-Check within the profile.

In the absence of the fields Extends, Enable-Tag, Disable-Tag, Enable-Check and Disable-Check, the profile shall simply include all checks/tags known to it.

Possible extensions to this would be to allow patterns in the *-Tag fields. A pattern from Disable-Tag overrules a pattern in Enable-Tag. A specific tag name always overrules a pattern.

Extra Sections

As described in the requirements, there are number of optional requirements that we can look at. I believe this can be addressed by extending the above profile format with an optional number of extra stanzas:

Tags: <tag>[, <tag2> ...]
Overridable: <yes|no>
Severity: <tag severity>

The Tags field is "folded", Severity and Overridable are "simple" fields.

Tags lists the field affected by this stanza. Overridable denotes whether or not the tags can be overridden. Severity sets the severity of the listed tags to a known Lintian severity.

Tag must be present in each of these stanzas. At least one of Overridable and Severity must be present.


The implementation has started and is available from the vendor-profile branch in the Lintian git repository.

Please note that some Debian profiles are auto-generated. These can be generated/updated by running:

 $ debian/rules profiles

It generates a profile based on all the checks in checks/ - If you add a new check file, you will need to re-run said target - but it is not needed if you just add a new tag to an existing check.