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Package Review Guidelines

This is a set of guidelines for Package Reviews. Note that a complete list of things to check for would be impossible, but every attempt has been made to make this document as comprehensive as possible. Reviewers and contributors (packagers) should use their best judgement whenever items are unclear, and if in doubt, ask on the fedora-packaging list .

Author: Tom 'spot' Callaway
Revision: 0.29
Initial Draft: Monday Jun 27, 2005
Last Revised: Friday Jan 9, 2009

Package Review Process

Contributors and reviewers should follow the Package Review Process.

Things To Check On Review

There are many many things to check for a review. This list is provided to assist new reviewers in identifying areas that they should look for, but is by no means complete. Reviewers should use their own good judgement when reviewing packages. The items listed fall into two categories: SHOULD and MUST.

MUST Items
Items marked as MUST are things that the package (or reviewer) MUST do. If a package fails a MUST item, that is considered a blocker. No package with blockers can be approved on a review. Those items must be fixed before approval can be given.
  • MUST: rpmlint must be run on every package. The output should be posted in the review.[1]
  • MUST: The package must be named according to the Package Naming Guidelines .
  • MUST: The spec file name must match the base package %{name}, in the format %{name}.spec unless your package has an exemption. [2] .
  • MUST: The package must meet the Packaging Guidelines .
  • MUST: The package must be licensed with a Fedora approved license and meet the Licensing Guidelines .
  • MUST: The License field in the package spec file must match the actual license. [3]
  • MUST: If (and only if) the source package includes the text of the license(s) in its own file, then that file, containing the text of the license(s) for the package must be included in %doc.[4]
  • MUST: The spec file must be written in American English. [5]
  • MUST: The spec file for the package MUST be legible. [6]
  • MUST: The sources used to build the package must match the upstream source, as provided in the spec URL. Reviewers should use md5sum for this task. If no upstream URL can be specified for this package, please see the Source URL Guidelines for how to deal with this.
  • MUST: The package MUST successfully compile and build into binary rpms on at least one primary architecture. [7]
  • MUST: If the package does not successfully compile, build or work on an architecture, then those architectures should be listed in the spec in ExcludeArch. Each architecture listed in ExcludeArch MUST have a bug filed in bugzilla, describing the reason that the package does not compile/build/work on that architecture. The bug number MUST be placed in a comment, next to the corresponding ExcludeArch line. [8]
  • MUST: All build dependencies must be listed in BuildRequires, except for any that are listed in the exceptions section of the Packaging Guidelines ; inclusion of those as BuildRequires is optional. Apply common sense.
  • MUST: The spec file MUST handle locales properly. This is done by using the %find_lang macro. Using %{_datadir}/locale/* is strictly forbidden.[9]
  • MUST: Every binary RPM package (or subpackage) which stores shared library files (not just symlinks) in any of the dynamic linker's default paths, must call ldconfig in %post and %postun. [10]
  • MUST: If the package is designed to be relocatable, the packager must state this fact in the request for review, along with the rationalization for relocation of that specific package. Without this, use of Prefix: /usr is considered a blocker. [11]
  • MUST: A package must own all directories that it creates. If it does not create a directory that it uses, then it should require a package which does create that directory. [12]
  • MUST: A Fedora package must not list a file more than once in the spec file's %files listings. [13]
  • MUST: Permissions on files must be set properly. Executables should be set with executable permissions, for example. Every %files section must include a %defattr(...) line. [14]
  • MUST: Each package must have a %clean section, which contains rm -rf %{buildroot} (or $RPM_BUILD_ROOT). [15]
  • MUST: Each package must consistently use macros. [16]
  • MUST: The package must contain code, or permissable content. [17]
  • MUST: Large documentation files must go in a -doc subpackage. (The definition of large is left up to the packager's best judgement, but is not restricted to size. Large can refer to either size or quantity). [18]
  • MUST: If a package includes something as %doc, it must not affect the runtime of the application. To summarize: If it is in %doc, the program must run properly if it is not present. [18]
  • MUST: Header files must be in a -devel package. [19]
  • MUST: Static libraries must be in a -static package. [20]
  • MUST: Packages containing pkgconfig(.pc) files must 'Requires: pkgconfig' (for directory ownership and usability). [21]
  • MUST: If a package contains library files with a suffix (e.g., then library files that end in .so (without suffix) must go in a -devel package. [19]
  • MUST: In the vast majority of cases, devel packages must require the base package using a fully versioned dependency: Requires: %{name} = %{version}-%{release} [22]
  • MUST: Packages must NOT contain any .la libtool archives, these must be removed in the spec if they are built.[20]
  • MUST: Packages containing GUI applications must include a %{name}.desktop file, and that file must be properly installed with desktop-file-install in the %install section. If you feel that your packaged GUI application does not need a .desktop file, you must put a comment in the spec file with your explanation. [23]
  • MUST: Packages must not own files or directories already owned by other packages. The rule of thumb here is that the first package to be installed should own the files or directories that other packages may rely upon. This means, for example, that no package in Fedora should ever share ownership with any of the files or directories owned by the filesystem or man package. If you feel that you have a good reason to own a file or directory that another package owns, then please present that at package review time. [24]
  • MUST: At the beginning of %install, each package MUST run rm -rf %{buildroot} (or $RPM_BUILD_ROOT). [25]
  • MUST: All filenames in rpm packages must be valid UTF-8. [26]

Items marked as SHOULD are things that the package (or reviewer) SHOULD do, but is not required to do.
  • SHOULD: If the source package does not include license text(s) as a separate file from upstream, the packager SHOULD query upstream to include it. [27]
  • SHOULD: The description and summary sections in the package spec file should contain translations for supported Non-English languages, if available. [28]
  • SHOULD: The reviewer should test that the package builds in mock. [29]
  • SHOULD: The package should compile and build into binary rpms on all supported architectures. [30]
  • SHOULD: The reviewer should test that the package functions as described. A package should not segfault instead of running, for example.
  • SHOULD: If scriptlets are used, those scriptlets must be sane. This is vague, and left up to the reviewers judgement to determine sanity. [31]
  • SHOULD: Usually, subpackages other than devel should require the base package using a fully versioned dependency. [22]
  • SHOULD: The placement of pkgconfig(.pc) files depends on their usecase, and this is usually for development purposes, so should be placed in a -devel pkg. A reasonable exception is that the main pkg itself is a devel tool not installed in a user runtime, e.g. gcc or gdb. [21]
  • SHOULD: If the package has file dependencies outside of /etc, /bin, /sbin, /usr/bin, or /usr/sbin consider requiring the package which provides the file instead of the file itself. [32]

References to the Fedora Packaging Guidelines

  1. Packaging Guidelines: Use rpmlint
  2. Naming Guidelines: Spec File Naming
  3. Licensing Guidelines: Valid License Short Names
  4. Licensing Guidelines: License Text
  5. Packaging Guidelines: Summary
  6. Packaging Guidelines: Spec Legibility
  7. Packaging Guidelines: Architecture Support
  8. Packaging Guidelines: Architecture Build Failures
  9. Packaging Guidelines: Handling Locale Files
  10. Packaging Guidelines: Shared Libraries
  11. Packaging Guidelines: Relocatable Packages
  12. Packaging Guidelines: File And Directory Ownership
  13. Packaging Guidelines: Duplicate Files
  14. Packaging Guidelines: File Permissions
  15. Packaging Guidelines: %clean
  16. Packaging Guidelines: Macros
  17. Packaging Guidelines: Code Vs. Content
  18. 18.0 18.1 Packaging Guidelines: Package Documentation
  19. 19.0 19.1 Packaging Guidelines: Devel Packages
  20. 20.0 20.1 Packaging Guidelines: Packaging Static Libraries
  21. 21.0 21.1 Packaging Guidelines: Pkgconfig Files
  22. 22.0 22.1 Packaging Guidelines: Requiring Base Package
  23. Packaging Guidelines: Desktop files
  24. Packaging Guidelines: File And Directory Ownership
  25. Packaging Guidelines: Prepping BuildRoot For %install
  26. Packaging Guidelines: Filename Encoding
  27. Licensing Guidelines: License Text
  28. Packaging Guidelines: Summary and description
  29. Mock Tricks
  30. Packaging Guidelines: Architecture Support
  31. Packaging Guidelines: Scriptlets
  32. Packaging Guidelines: File Dependencies