Before I joined Openismus, I never created RPM- or Debian-package for my sources. After releasing an early version of the Dolphin sources at www.kde-apps.org, friendly people stepped up and created RPM- or Debian-packages for them. When Dolphin got part of KDE, the packaging anyhow was no problem anymore as it had been done by the Linux distributions.
At Openismus one of my first tasks was the prepare Debian packages for Glom and the Qt frontend Qlom. Beside preparing packages for Ubuntu Karmic, also packages for Maemo had to be created.
I always thought developing software can be tricky, but now I know that creating a package is also very challenging and requires a very focused style of working. As there are many traps for beginners, I'd like to provide some useful links that helped me to fulfill this task (beside the help of my colleagues at Openismus of course):
- Debian New Maintainers' Guide: Is a must-read if you need to create a package from scratch.
- Building Modified Debian Packages: Provides a good overview for the case where a source package is available, which should be updated by some patches.
- Creating Debian Packages for Maemo: When creating a Debian package for Maemo, some things from the Debian New Maintainer's guide can be skipped, other additional steps are required. Beside step by step instructions to create a Maemo package from scratch, the differences to a default Debian package are explained well there.
- Don't modify a decompressed version of a file that is part of the *.orig.tar.gz file, without updating the *.orig.tar.gz. This sounds (and is) obvious, but it is easy to fall into this trap when modifying e. g. a configure.ac file for testing. The result of doing such changes is that the local installation of the generated package might behave different in comparison to the official package created by a PPA.
- Beside the build dependencies take care to verify the runtime dependencies. It is easy to forget this, as the local system most probably will already contain the needed packages.