This specification describes the way we would like Debian specifications to be written. It takes the form of a specification itself.


As we develop new ideas for features in Debian, it's important to be able to communicate them clearly. This serves the purpose of making it clear what the feature is about, and allowing people to evolve an implementation strategy for it.

Publishing this content gives our community a chance to participate in the discussion and design of a feature, and increases the chance that community members will feel confident enough to start work on the implementation of the feature.

A good specification also allows community members who were not physically present at meetings discussing a topic to participate in the implementation of the spec.

Bottom line: the better your spec, the better the chances that your ideas will clearly understood by every contributor that might help.

Use Cases


This specification covers feature specifications for Debian. It is not meant as a more general specification format.


A specification should be built with the following considerations:

Specific issues related to particular sections are described further below.


The summary should not attempt to say why the spec is being defined, just what is being specified.


This should be the description of why this spec is being defined.

Scope and Use Cases

While not always required, but in many cases they bring much better clarity to the scope and scale of the specification than could be obtained by talking in abstract terms.

Implementation Plan

This section is usually broken down into subsections, such as the packages being affected, data and system migration where necessary, user interface requirements and pictures (photographs of drawings on paper work well).


To implement a specification, the developer should observe the use cases carefully, and follow the design specified. He should make note of places in which he has strayed from the design section, adding rationale describing why this happened. This is important so that next iterations of this specification (and new specifications that touch upon this subject) can use the specification as a reference.

The implementation is very dependent on the type of feature to be implemented. Refer to the team leader for further suggestions and guidance on this topic.

Outstanding Issues

The specification process requires experienced people to drive it. More documentation on the process should be produced.

The drafting of a specification requires english skills and a very good understanding of the problem. It must also describe things to an extent that someone else could implement. This is a difficult set of conditions to ensure throughout all the specifications added.

There is a lot of difficulty in gardening obsolete, unwanted and abandoned specifications in the Wiki.

BoF agenda and discussion

Possible meetins where this specification will be discussed.