resolving XiVO submissions confusion

A recuring pattern in the past two weeks has been the need to resolve a situation where the build machines and the associated respositories could not be used because either:

  • the reprepro repository rejected one of the packages found in a build machine because of a checksum error, i.e. because it contained the same version of the package with a different checksum
  • the packaging-farm installed on the build machine claimed it had no work to do
  • packages were not manually submitted to the build machine

In the following each source of confusion is analyzed and clarified.

nothing needs to be done

The rules that decide when packaging-farm should work on a package are explained in the manual pages. However, they have changed a lot while packaging-farm matured in the past months and they deserve a short summary.
The first step is to submit work to the packaging-farm and this is done by the script as follows:

packaging-farm DIRECTORY=asterisk submit

which is run as a side effect of the command


which is an alias for running the rebuild target of the /etc/packaging-farm/ Makefile.What it really does is to use the content of the XiVO git repository to create a Debian GNU/Linux source package. It uses the debian packaging instructions found in the git repository and follow them : it does not create rules automatically, it fully relies on what has been done manually. It does, however, creates the package version according to a complex set of rules, explained in the VERSIONS section of the
The asterisk source package will not be generated each time the

packaging-farm DIRECTORY=asterisk submit

is run for two reasons:

  • To save time. It currently takes less than 30 seconds for packaging-farm to update the skaro build machine when nothing needs to be done. If the source packages were always rebuilt it would take at least 15 minutes.
  • To avoid checksum errors when reprepro mirrors the packages built by packaging-farm. When a .orig.tar.gz is built for a given version of a package, it is preserved. Even when the content of two .tar.gz are strictly identical, the file itself has a different md5sum signature because of the compression.

The script decides if a source package should be rebuilt using a simple comparison : if the existing .dsc file has the same path as the one that would be created, it declares there is no need to re-create it. In other words, the decision to rebuild a source package solely depends on the version number of the package.
Note that when decides that nothing needs to be done, it does not rely on the log history of the git repository. It only relies on the version number. However, when VERSION_COMPUTE=true (which is the default) the date and time of the last commit from the git repository is used to create the version number. Therefore there is a relationship between the history of the git repository and the decision to recreate the source package because each new commit will create a new version.
This relationship no longer exists when VERSION_COMPUTE=false and commits to the git repository will not have any consequence on the decision to rebuild a source package.

manually submitted packages

Some packages are not yet in the git repositories and they are completly outside the control of As a consequence they must be submitted manually to packaging farm. The


command will not submit these packages because:

  • it would create checksum errors when the same package version is submitted twice
  • it would uselessly slow down the command when nothing needs update

The list of packages that need manual care is found in the /etc/packaging-farm/ or /etc/packaging-farm/ files:

cd /var/cache/packaging-farm/sources
for package in asterisk-chan-capi libasterisk-perl libpri misdn-kernel misdn-user sangoma-wanpipe spandsp
do ( rm -fr $package ; mkdir $package ; cd $package ; apt-get source $package
      rm -f /var/cache/packaging-farm/depends/$package )
done ; packaging-farm generate

Note however that this is merely a reminder and running it without evaluating the consequences may lead to checksum errors. The following should be checked:

  • from which source will the package be retrieved ?
  • which package version will be retrieved ?
  • is the package retrieved compatible with the other package in the build farm ?
  • is there already a package with the same version in the /var/cache/packaging-farm/source/package directory ?

checksum errors

The gallifrey and skaro build machines output is a repository created with reprepro. It is then mirrored, using reprepro, to
If the build machines were lost and had to be reinstalled manually, all packages would be rebuilt. As a consequence, trying to update the mirror on would lead to checksum errors because both the sources and binary files would have the same name and different checksum, because of the same content has a different checksum after compression, either in a .tar.gz or in a .deb . The only way to recover from such a situation would be to :

  • identify all packages that are to be rebuilt by the farm
  • dget from each of them in /var/lib/packaging-farm/package
  • rebuild the gallifrey / skaro meta package

Doing so is, in a nutshell, re-importing the packages saved on back to the build machine, as if it was the result created with it. The actual restoration of such a catastrophic event is likely to be more complicated in reality. But the general idea is simple enough.
A more common problem comes from the fact that is a single reprepro repository that is used to merge unrelated repositories. For instance gallifrey, gallifrey-dev, skaro, skaro-dev and so on. Because reprepro has a single package pool shared between all distributions, if package P-1.1.1-1 has been built on gallifrey and gallifrey-dev, it will be imported twice with the same version but different checksum and lead to a checksum error. There are two ways to avoid this problem:

  • manually ensure that such a case never happens (for instance by setting the VERSION_FLAVOR veriable of to add a distinctive string unique to the distribution in the name of each package).
  • create a separate reprepro repository for each distribution

misleading error message

When nothing needs to be done according to, it shows

package ${package} was not modified in git since the last package generation

although it is unrelated to git when VERSION_COMPUTE=false.
The message explaining that no update is needed is moved to the need_update function and displays the exact reason, path included, why no update is required.

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