Packaging Frescobaldi for Debian/Ubuntu

I co-maintain the Debian package for Frescobaldi, an excellent LilyPond sheet music text editor. This blog post documents the steps to svn-buildpackage to prepare and upload the frescobaldi Debian package when a new version is available.

(This is still a working draft. Please forgive some of my random disorganized notes.)

What to do when a new upstream version is released?

1. Upgrade the local build environment

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo cowbuilder --update --override-config

2. Fetch the new upstream version

cd /work/debian/frescobaldi
svn update
cd trunk
debian/rules get-orig-source
mv -vi frescobaldi* ../tarballs/
dch -i

Note: svn-upgrade is not used because it is not yet aware of uscan’s repacked package, resulting in the error: couldn't find the downloaded file at /usr/bin/svn-upgrade line 71.

  • sudo cowbuilder --update --override-config
    • esp. when changing mirror, e.g. from to

3. Revise–Test Build cycle:

# Research, edit debian/* ...
vim debian/copyright

svn-buildpackage -us -uc --svn-ignore-new     or    svn-do pdebuild

4. Final build

# Change `UNRELEASED` to `unstable`, and update the timestamp
# in debian/changelog
dch -r

# Do a final check
svn status

# Commit all changed files
svn commit -m "Release frescobaldi 2.17.2+ds1-1 for Debian"

# Alternatively, to commit only some specified files:
# svn commit debian/files-to-commit

And finally:

svn-buildpackage --svn-builder="pdebuild --buildresult `pwd`/../build-area --auto-debsign" --svn-lintian --svn-tag --svn-noautodch

5. Final verifications before upload

debc        # To look at the file list
sudo debi   # To install locally

# Look at the build area:
ls ../build-area/ -lrt

# Examine build log
less ../build-area/

6. Upload!

dput ../build-area/frescobaldi_2.17.2+ds1-1_amd64.changes


7. Follow-up

Troubleshooting: To revise a commit log message:

cd /svn/python-apps/hooks
cp -vi pre-revprop-change.tmpl pre-revprop-change
chmod +x pre-revprop-change

# Local machine
EDITOR=vim svn propedit -r xxxxx --revprop svn:log

# On
rm pre-revprop-change

Regular maintenance:

  • sudo cowbuilder --update --override-config
    • esp. when changing mirror, e.g. from to
  • cd /work/debian/frescobaldi/trunk
  • svn-do pdebuild


Every half year?

  • sudo rm -rf /var/cache/pbuilder/base.cow/
  • sudo pbuilder --clean
    • removes /var/cache/pbuilder/build/ and /var/cache/pbuilder/aptcache/
  • sudo cowbuilder --create
    • This will take about 15 minutes?

Hyphenation is missing for many languages…

  • Ryan (rak) removed frescobaldi_app/hyphdict/* to avoid duplication and the complexity of tracking copyrights.
  • However Debian’s hyphenation is incomplete. For example, hyph_nl_NL.dic, hyph_uk.dic, etc. are missing.

Ubuntu is improving it:

  • (Ubuntu-only package), which contains e.g. hyph_nl
  • libreoffice-dictionaries, replacing the outdated still in Debian.

Licensing issue (

Someone called “doko” filed mass bug reports on




Key points:

Debian packaging

  • Packaged by Ryan. He got too busy with school work in latter half of 2013, and the package fell behind.
  • PAPT (Python Application Team):
    • Besides applying to join the team on Alioth, I needed to write
  • Build with svn-buildpackage
  • Repack source… +ds1
    • Old method:
      • XZ_OPT=-9v fakeroot tar cvJf frescobaldi_2.0.13+ds1.tar.xz frescobaldi-2.0.13+ds1
    • New method
      • TODO

Chinese L10n:

Keeping my branch updated: (see

git fetch upstream
git checkout master
git rebase upstream/master
git push
git checkout l10n-zh
git rebase upstream/master
cd frescobaldi_app/po
make zh_TW.po			# runs msgmerge
cd ../..
cd frescobaldi_app/language_names

# ensure my changes are in:

What about my l10n-zh branch?

KDE L10n, esp. zh_HK

Howard Chan (smartboyhw)


Working with SVN and svn-buildpackage

Refer to:

(To be organized)

foka@debian-Aspire-M5-481G:/work/debian/frescobaldi/trunk$ svn proplist ./debian/

Properties on ‘debian’:


Fetch new upstream source:

  • go to a previous build-area, e.g. /work/debian/frescobaldi/build-area/frescobaldi-2.0.13+ds1.obsolete.0.119643281520442, and run “uscan”, which reads debian/watch and fetch the tarball from GitHub.

    cd ..
    tar xf frescobaldi-2.0.16.tar.gz
    cd frescobaldi-2.0.16
    mv frescobaldi-2.0.16 frescobaldi-2.0.16+ds1
    XZ_OPT=-9v fakeroot tar cvJf frescobaldi_2.0.16+ds1.orig.tar.xz frescobaldi-2.0.16+ds1

After upload (?), do a

  • svn update

to fetch the tag in svn.

Assorted Links

To add:

Note to self:

  • The upstream Frescobaldi is maintained in GitHub. Ironically, the Debian frescobaldi package is maintained in SVN because the Python Applications Packaging Team maintains everything in SVN.

History / Log

  • 2014-01-18: Uploaded frescobaldi_2.0.13+ds1; wrote note in /home/foka/wiki-frescobaldi.txt
  • 2014-07-25: Old build in /work/debian/frescobaldi-2.0.16+ds1
  • 2014-07-25: Contributed “Initial l10n for Chinese (zh_CN, zh_HK, zh_TW)”
  • 2014-07-26: Wilbert Berendsen merged my pull request.
  • 2014-08-02: Updated debian/watch
  • 2014-08-05: Updated debian/README.source
  • 2014-09-17: Moved this document from Google Docs to Hugo Markdown
  • 2014-08-07: Last touched debian/copyright
  • 2014-12-20: Touching frescobaldi again
  • 2014-12-21: Uploaded frescobaldi (2.0.16+ds1-1)
  • 2014-12-27: Uploaded frescobaldi (2.17.1+ds1-1)
  • 2015-01-25: Uploaded frescobaldi (2.17.2+ds1-1)
  • 2015-09-15: Uploaded frescobaldi (2.18.1+ds1-1)
  • 2015-09-15: Uploaded frescobaldi (2.18.1+ds1-2)
  • 2015-11-21: Uploaded frescobaldi (2.18.1+ds1-3)
  • 2015-12-26: Packaged frescobaldi 2.18.2 but not uploaded… It turns out I need to upgrade python-ly from 0.9.2 to 0.9.3 first.