This is an aspirational document describing the most ideal procedure for creating a new port and getting it included into Debian. Since every port will have different circumstances, the procedure may differ for your port, but the best way to do it should be documented below. It is a work in progress and is based on the port template wiki page.
If you encounter any unfamiliar jargon, please refer to the Debian glossary for more information.
It is best to not skip any of the steps.
It is best to complete each item before moving to later steps.
- Assemble a team of people working on the port and find a financial sponsor to support the team's work.
Decide on the architecture ABI details and the GNU triplet. A different GNU triplet is required for each ABI, which includes bitness, endianness, soft/hard-float, calling convention, or whether object files can be inter-linked.
Register accounts for each team member on the bug trackers and subscribe to the mailing lists for upstream projects: GNU config, binutils, gcc, gdb, qemu, kernel (such as Linux), and libc (such as glibc)
Prepare kernel and toolchain patches supporting the port and get the necessary changes included into these upstream projects: GNU config (instructions), binutils, gcc (instructions), gdb (instructions), the kernel (such as Linux (info)) and the libc (such as glibc (instructions)) (in that order)
If hardware supporting your port is not yet available or your hardware or FPGA softcore or software model is quite slow, prepare patches for the appropriate simulator/emulator upstream project (such as qemu (instructions)). If you do not need this, it will still be very useful to complete at some point, so consider completing it later on.
- Identify related ports and ISAs, decide that the port is worth creating and detail the reasons why.
Discuss the port with the community. Please send an email to the debian-devel mailing list. If the port is related to some other architectures, ensure you CC the mailing list for the architecture family. Also join the #debian-bootstrap and #debian-ports IRC channels.
- Finalise the architecture details, especially including the ABI and CPU baseline requirements.
Get any necessary changes included into dpkg (instructions), to get the new Debian architecture name supported (which is the name that end-users will use for the architecture), this requires having the architecture ABI details clear, the Debian multiarch tuple is derived from the Debian architecture tuple.
Prepare patches supporting the port in rebootstrap and other Debian-specific packages.
Use your modified rebootstrap, the other patches and manual bootstrapping to build all of build-essential.
- Keep working on the bootstrap process until all of build-essential is installable with debootstrap.
- Continue building as many packages as you can using the new build-essential packages.
- Get any remaining changes included into the upstream projects that you have modified.
- Get any necessary changes included into rebootstrap and other projects involved in the bootstrap process.
Register the port on the Debian wiki, replace "example" throughout the page with the chosen architecture details and fill out as many details as you have.
Summarise the details of the architecture and ABI on the arch summary wiki page.
Setup communication channels for the architecture. Use the architecture family as the name of any communication channels you create, just in case additional related architectures are created later. A mailing list and IRC channel are recommended.
Add your architecture to the bugs arch usertags page.
Get the port included amongst the unofficial ports.
Include the port on the ports list on the Debian website and add the end-user name for the port to the website arches data. If you create a page on the website, create one named after the architecture family, just in case additional related architectures are created later.
Optionally, donate hardware for the GCC compile farm. It is recommended to do this so that people outside Debian also have access to hardware for testing toolchains or other software on your port.
Setup porterboxen for Debian package maintainers to login to and port packages.
Optionally, discuss setting up runners for debci with the admins. It is recommended to do this so Debian package maintainers have a way to automatically run as-installed package tests.
Optionally, donate hardware for debomatic. It is recommended to do this so Debian package maintainers have a way to automatically trigger custom package builds.
Port the Debian installer so that it works on the hardware you have available.
- Use the Debian installer to install Debian on the hardware you have available.
Write some documentation about installing the arch on the hardware you have installed.
Submit installation reports for the hardware you have installed.
Submit some hardware probes for the hardware you have installed.
Grow the hardware ecosystem until it satisfies the requirements for an official port.
Improve the port until it satisfies the criteria for being included in the main archive.
- The process for switching from an unofficial port to an official port is approximately:
- The Debian archive admins will import enough binary packages from the unofficial port to be able to setup the official buildds.
- The Debian hosting providers will connect the hardware to power, network and remote access.
- The Debian sysadmins will install Debian on the hardware.
- The Debian buildd admins will setup the hardware as official buildds and connect them to wanna-build and the main archive.
- The initially imported packages will be rebuilt on the official buildds and imported into the official archive.
- The official buildds will be updated using the rebuilt packages.
- The rest of the archive will be rebuilt on the official buildds.
- Improve the port based on reports from users and QA services.
- Make the port more accessible by adding support for instruction and system emulation to qemu or adding other simulators/emulators to Debian.
- Make the port support more hardware by upstreaming support to linux-firmware, bootloaders, Linux, udev, mesa, flash-kernel and other projects then updating those projects in Debian.
- Make the port more complete by porting packages that require porting to every new architecture, including these source packages: lintian linuxinfo
- Make the port more performant by porting or optimising various libraries, language runtimes and signal processing algorithms and cryptography libraries, for example: openssl, gnutls, openjdk, v8, ffmpeg, golang, gccgo, ghc, ocaml, simde
Make the port more DFSG compatible by reverse engineering common proprietary firmware, rewriting the firmware, documenting that new open firmware and packaging that firmware for Debian.
Make the bootstrap process more trustworthy through Bootstrappable Builds.
Make the port, the status of it, changes to it and the usage of it more widely known through talks and BoFs at DebConf and other events, DevNews (and other publicity team avenues), by filing bugs from machines running the port, submitting reports to the package popularity contest etc.
Discuss about gitlab-runners with Teams/SalsaCI. gitlab-runners can be used to run the Salsa CI's pipeline, that provides Debian package maintainers with a way to automatically build and test changes to packages before upload.
Discuss with the LTS team about including the port within the releases that have LTS and or eLTS support.