Chapter 3. Binary packages
However, in some cases where the upstream version number is based on a date (e.g., a de
velopment snapshot release) the package management system cannot handle these version
numbers without epochs. For example, dpkg will consider 96May01 to be greater than
To prevent having to use epochs for every new upstream version, the date based portion of
the version number should be changed to the following format in such cases: 19960501 ,
19961224 . It is up to the maintainer whether they want to bother the upstream maintainer to
change the version numbers upstream, too.
Note that other version formats based on dates which are parsed correctly by the package
management system should not be changed.
Native Debian packages (i.e., packages which have been written especially for Debian) whose
version numbers include dates should always use the YYYYMMDD format.
3.3 The maintainer of a package
Every package must have a Debian maintainer (the maintainer may be one person or a group
of people reachable from a common email address, such as a mailing list). The maintainer is
responsible for ensuring that the package is placed in the appropriate distributions.
The maintainer must be specified in the
control field with their correct name and
a working email address. If one person maintains several packages, they should try to avoid
having different forms of their name and email address in the
fields of those
The format of the
control field is described in `
' on page
If the maintainer of a package quits from the Debian project, Debian QA Group
takes over the maintainer ship of the package until someone else volun
teers for that task. These packages are called orphaned packages.
3.4 The description of a package
Every Debian package must have an extended description stored in the appropriate field of
the control record. The technical information about the format of the
field is in
' on page
The description should describe the package (the program) to a user (system administrator)
who has never met it before so that they have enough information to decide whether they
want to install it. This description should not just be copied verbatim from the program's
The detailed procedure for doing this gracefully can be found in the Debian Developer's Reference, see `Re
lated documents' on page