Debhelper Plugin to Support Dist::Zilla Packages Natively
The Debian package dh-dist-zilla provides a debhelper sequence addon named 'dist_zilla'.
The intention is to be able to build Debian packages (
directly from a
Dist::Zilla based Perl package
without generating the CPAN package manually first. It is analogous
autoreconf to generate the
orig.tar.gz file must only contain the
dist.ini and source
files but not the generated files like
The Perl community and CPAN in particular use
a few tools to build Perl packages. The classic approach is to
Makefile.PL script using
The alternative variant uses
Module::Build. Both are part of the Perl core, but
Module::Build has been deprecated recently and will be removed from
the core with the next Perl release. For the distribution on CPAN a
few more files like LICENSE, MANIFEST, META.yml, and README need to be
There is some tedium in writing all these files and there is no
surprise to find code generators for them.
is such a code generator that is very commonly used. It helps a lot
getting started. However, maintenance still needs to make sure that
information like version numbers or documentation is kept consistent.
Dist::Zilla. The basic promise of
Dist::Zilla, also known by its command line program
dzil, is to
keep all relevant information exactly once in a place where the
particular piece of information fits best. Given the appropriate
dzil build will generate all the files needed for CPAN.
E.g., the author, version, and license type is stored in exactly one place
(typically in a file called
dist.iniand only there) and then used to add it in
the appropriate places. Likewise
MANIFEST and other boilerplate files are
created or updated by each invocation of
dzil can be used like
module-starter or any other
code generator. On the other hand its full potential is only taken
advantage of if the generated files are never touched and only
dist.ini and the other files proper to the package are editied.
This makes development more consistent and eliminates whole classes
dzil you also avoid having to commit to either
Module::Build. You can switch back and
forth by replacing a
Dist::Zilla plugin specification. If another
successor to MakeMaker should appear and be successful you will most
certainly be able to use a
Dist::Zilla plugin to make use of it. This, of
course, only applies if you are just using features supported by both or all
build mechanisms you want to switch between them.
Debian Packaging of Perl Code
When packaging Perl code Debian relies heavily on CPAN or at least
on the package contents of a package conforming to the CPAN standard.
can rely on either
Build.PL to be present and
conform to the common standard procedures accepting all their well
If the package is built and maintained using
Dist::Zilla it would
be advantageous to build from the original source files like
dist.ini rather than base it on derived files like
most prominent benefits are avoiding inconsistencies and
incorporating all improvements and bug fixes that went into
Another concern is that generated files should not enter a VCS like Git. Not only are generated files redundant and can be recreated whenever needed, but they can easily become inconsistent and therefore be confusing and lead to subtle bugs.
The purpose of
dh-dist-zilla is to enable debhelper to build a
Debian package for Perl code directly from
dist.ini and the
original source code. In particular, it allows to build a Debian
package directly from a VCS checkout.
The official Dist::Zilla Tutorials by Ricardo Signes and others
The ExtUtils::MakeMaker::FAQ where among other things they point out that MakeMaker deserves to be replaced by something better but, unfortunately,
Module::Buildis not quite that replacement.
Module::Build as a replacement for
ExtUtils::MakeMakerby Dave Rolsky (note: this is dated, being from 2003, but shows the motivation of replacing MakeMaker)
More Code, Less Cruft: Managing Distributions with Dist::Zilla by Ricardo Signes (from 2010, outdated in some details but still nicely showing the goals of the tool)
We try to conform to Semantic Versioning with the only exception that we omit trailing zeros, i.e. version 1 is equivalent to version 1.0.0.