Warren's Package Naming Proposal - Revision 1

Warren Togami warren at togami.com
Fri Oct 31 09:22:27 UTC 2003

The following is based upon current fedora.us package naming guidelines, 
quickly edited and dramatically simplified because fedora.redhat.com no 
longer needs many of fedora.us special considerations.

The below proposal is ALMOST EXACTLY THE SAME as fedora.us current 
scheme except with the leading "0.fdr." removed from all %{release} 
tags.  I would assert that fedora.us package naming scheme has 
demonstrated to be a great success, thus it should continued in 
fedora.redhat.com.  The below scheme is also in-line with the common 
practices used by most of Red Hat's existing packages.

This proposal is missing considerations for 3rd party repositories. 
Theoretically 3rd party repositories should no longer have a reason to 
publish the same %{name} of any packages that exist in FC or FE because 
changes should be incorporated upstream.  There are however some cases 
like kde-redhat where this is not possible, so we really need to discuss 
possible solutions to this.  Earlier we had discussed the possibility of 
simply adding a %{reptag} to the far right of %{release}.

Fedora Package Naming Guidelines
Warren's Proposal for fedora.redhat.com
Revision 1
i. Introduction
    Goals for package naming guidelines
ii. Terminology
A. Package Name
B. Version
C. Release Tag
     1. Release Prefix
     2. Vepoch
     3. Non-Numeric Version to Release
     4. Dist tag
     5. Special: Kernel modules
     6. Special: Plugin, theme etc packages
     7. Special: Minor Number

i. Introduction
Goals for the Fedora Package Naming Guidelines
* Easily understandable package naming policy
* Indication of the original source version (end-user convenience)
* Allow for a smooth upgrade path between multiple levels of testing
branches and future distribution upgrades.  This means E-V-R must never
be exactly identical between distribution versions.
* Minimize the chance of package conflicts for future Fedora
distribution upgrades.

ii. Terminology
This is the "Name" field of RPM .spec files.

This is the "Version" field of RPM .spec files.

release tag
This is the "Release" field of RPM .spec files.

dist tag
This is a distribution tag indicating which RHL/FC distribution this
package is intended for.  This only occurs in cases where packages from
different distributions are built from the same SRPM and patchlevel.

This is our term for "version specific epoch", used in all packages as a 
simple means of ensuring upgrades by simple incrementing the leading 
number within the release tag.  vepoch is otherwise known as "release 
number" or "patchlevel".  Read C-2 for more information.

Abbreviation for epoch, version, and release.  This is often referred to
when talking about potential package upgrading problems.

A. Package Name
Package name should preferably match the upstream tarball or project
name from which this software came.  In some cases this naming choice is
more complicated.  If this package has been packaged by other
distributions/packagers (Mandrake, SuSE, Conectiva, PLD, PLF, FreshRPMS,
etc.) in the past, then we should try to match their name for
consistency.  In any case, try to use your best judgement, and other
developers will help in the final decision.

Ultimately it is up to QA to decide upon the proper %{name} before 

B. Version
If the version is only numbers, then these numbers can be put into the
"version" field of the RPM .spec unchanged.  If the version contains
non-numeric characters, this creates several problems for RPM version
comparison and a broken upgrade path.


While the "1.2.3" version is newer than the 1.2.3beta1 version, RPM
version comparison thinks the former is newer.


The "1.0b" version is higher than "1.0a", but all versions of RPM prior
to rpm-4.2-0.55 are confused when it tries to compare letters. Whichever
package is first in the comparison "wins", thus this becomes a  two way
upgrade problem.  This a < b comparison works properly only in RH9 and 

For simplicity, Fedora treats both pre-release and post-release
non-numeric version cases the same, making the version purely numeric
and moving the alphabetic part to the release tag.  Take the numeric
portion of the source version and make that the package version tag.

Read C-3 for more details.

C. Release Tag
The release tag of Fedora packages more complicated, so this is split
into several parts.

C-1. Release Prefix
No longer needed in fedora.redhat.com.

C-2. Vepoch
The leftmost leading number within the release tag is the "version 
specific epoch" or vepoch in Fedora.  This number is incremented with 
every package update.  The vepoch is otherwise known as the "release 
number" or "patchlevel".

The key difference between the concept of "vepoch" and "patch level" is 
that everything to the right of the vepoch is PURELY INFORMATIONAL.  The 
only time where it matters is to guarantee a different %{release} tag 
between two distribution versions.

The vepoch is to be respected by Fedora Core/Extras/Alternatives/Legacy 
as canonical.  Package updates in any repository should always check all 
other official repositories to be sure that the vepoch is always 
incremented and never matching an existing package.

With most normal packages, vepoch is a single number starting at "1".
Under the (C-3) non-numeric version case it is two numbers starting at
"0.1" with the second number being the number to increment.

Normal Package Example:
      foobar-1.2.3-1.src.rpm compiles to

If this package is patched:

C-3. Non-Numeric Version to Release
As mentioned above in section B (Version) and C-2 (Vepoch), non-numeric
versioned packages can be problematic so they must be treated with care. 
  These are cases where the upstream version has letters rather than
simple numbers in their version.  Often they have tags like alpha, beta,
rc, or letters like a and b denoting that it is a version before or
after the number.  Read section B to understand why we cannot simply put
these letters into the version tag.

Release Tag for Pre-Release Packages:
Release Tag for Non-Numeric Post-Release Packages:
Where %{X} is the vepoch increment, and %{alphatag} is the string that
came from the version.

Example (pre-release):
      mozilla-1.4a.tar.gz   from usptream is lower than
      mozilla-1.4.tar.gz    the later "final" version thus
      mozilla-1.4-0.1.a     Fedora package name

Example (pre-release):
      alsa-lib-0.9.2beta1.tar.gz  becomes

Example (post-release):
      gkrellm-2.1.7a.tar.gz       Quick bugfix release after 2.1.7

Upgrade Path Example (mozilla):
          Patched again
          Move to 1.4b
          Move to 1.4 "final" version
          Notice that this becomes a normal C-2 case

Upgrade Path Example (alsa-lib):
          Move to beta2
          Move to beta3 and simultaneously patch
          Patched again
          Move to rc1
          Move to rc2
          Move to "final"

C-4. Dist tag
In cases where the same SRPM and patchlevel is used between two or more
distributions supported by Fedora, a dist tag is appended to the end of
the release tag defined in C-2 and C-3.  The dist tags with the
following examples appear to be only cosmetic, however the a different
E-V-R is needed between distributions to ensure dist upgrading works
fully in all corner cases.

Dist Tag for Normal Packages:
Where %{X} is the vepoch and %{disttag} is a distribution tag from this 

0.7.3 Red Hat Linux 7.3
0.8   Red Hat Linux 8
0.9   Red Hat Linux 9
1     Fedora Core 1
1.93  Fedora Core 1.93 beta
1.94  Fedora Core 1.94 beta
2     Fedora Core 2 beta


Upgrade Path Example (FC1 only shown):

Dist Tag for Pre-Release Packages:
Where %{X} is the vepoch, %{alphatag} is the pre-release tag described
in C-3, %{disttag} is a distribution tag described above.

alsa-lib for RH 8.0
alsa-lib for FC1

Upgrade Path Example (RH 7.3 only shown):

C-5. Special Case: Kernel modules
This section needs its own discussion due to changed provides within 
FC1's kernel, and the fact that older distributions are different.

C-6. Plugin, theme etc packages
Packages that are plugins, themes or the like, ie. enhance other 
packages must be named <package-to-enhance>-<enhancement>.  If the 
resulting name differs significantly from upstream naming, a
Provides: <upstream-name> = %{epoch}:%{version}-%{release}
must be added.  For example:

Upstream package name: modplug-xmms
Fedora package name:   xmms-modplug
Provides:              modplug-xmms = %{epoch}:%{version}-%{release}

C-7. Minor Number
Probably no longer needed at fedora.redhat.com.

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