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Abstract interface for listing/accessing versions of Debian sources


Verseek, short for Version Seeker, is an abstract interface for transparently listing and accessing versions of Debian source packages regardless of the specific storage layer the package is contained in, which is detected automatically.

I separated verseek from pool because I figured it would be easier to develop/debug this layer separately, and also that users would potentially benefit from having raw access to the provided functionality.

Usage example

$ verseek git/pyhello --list

$ verseek git/pyhello 1.2

$ git/pyhello/pyhello
hello world 1.2

$ verseek git/pyhello

$ git/pyhello/pyhello
hello world 1.3

How it works

It is useful to understand how verseek works, even if just in principle, in order to understand the implications for managing source versions under various storage types

Currently, verseek supports 4 types of underlying storage:

  1. plain directory: may contain multiple source packages, but only the most current version can be accessed
  2. git: a git repository potentially containing multiple Debian packages
  3. git-single: a git repository containing only one auto-versioned Debian project
  4. sumo: a Sumo arena potentially containing multiple Debian packages

Storage backend: plain directory

This is the simplest storage layer, and it doesn't do much besides satisfying verseek's interface. When you list versions available in a plain directory, you'll only get the latest version, which is determined by parsing debian/changelog. Accordingly, this is the only version you can seek to.

Storage backend: git

In addition to being a useful storage layer in itself, this also happens to be the base type from which all other supported storage layers inherit. I will later describe the derived layers in respect to how they are different from the base type.

  • Listing: version lists are calculated by

    1. listing all commits in which path/debian/changelog changes:

      git-rev-list <branch> path/debian/changelog
    2. for each commit, extracting the version by parsing debian/changelog in those commits:

      git-cat-file blob <commit>:path/debian/changelog
  • Seeking: implemented by checking out the commit in which the changelog changed. Note that this checks out the entire git repository, so you can't seek to different versions of different packages in the same underlying git repository at the same time.

    Since verseek checks out a specific commit rather than a branch, Git will perform a detached checkout (HEAD is pointing directly to a commit), while the current branch is preserved in VERSEEK_HEAD.

Storage backend: git-single (derived from git)

Changes relative to Git storage: Uses autoversioning rather than revisions of debian/changelog to list versions and to map versions to commits. - After checking out the commit for a version, verseek creates a dummy changelog. The release field in the changelog is controlled by the RELEASE environment variable, and defaults to UNRELEASED.

Storage backend: Sumo arena

Changes relative to Git storage:

  • Operates on an open arena union path. For example:

    $ verseek -l sumotest/arena/pyhello
  • We list commits in which debian/changelog changed in the overlay Note that this means verseek won't see debian/changelog revisions in the fat, so for example, if you want verseek to "see" the debian/changelog you unpacked from a tarball, you'll have to:

    touch arena/pyhello/debian/changelog

    This will perform a copy-on-write to the overlay.

  • We use sumo-checkout instead of git-checkout. Under some conditions, sumo-checkout may need a network connection to retrieve uncached urls. Also note that locally generated thin branches will be checked out much more quickly than remote thin branches (for which the journal has to be replayed from the closest locally vailable fat commit).


verseek expects debian/control to exist in any version of the source package, because this is the file verseek uses to identify that a path is indeed a debian source in the first place.

If you seek back to a version that does not have debian/control - verseek will get stuck on that version, and you won't be able to seek to another version with verseek because it won't even recognize the path as a valid Debian package. Note, that the arena has to be open.


Abstract interface for listing/accessing versions of Debian sources



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