Debian Trends


Debian packaging practices evolved over time. This page provides some historical perspective about how those practices evolved. This data was generated with a sligthly customized version of lintian, a rather basic script, and data from starting in 2005. This is a static page, last refreshed in April 2019, but it should be easy to refresh on a regular basis. If it isn't fresh enough, nag the author!

How you can help

  • Provide ideas for more graphs
    • One outstanding To-Do item is a graph about co-maintenance and teams
  • Help include the lintian modifications into standard lintian. That's #926766 (debhelper compat level), #926767 (patch system), #926768 (VCS and VCS URI). It would also be helpful to fix #926799 (lintian: hangs when dpkg-source fails).

Contact: Lucas Nussbaum <>

Debhelper compatibility level

Also available:

Build systems

Also available:

Source formats

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Patch systems

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Version Control System

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VCS Hosting

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Inspired by code smells (any characteristic in the source code of a program that possibly indicates a deeper problem), this page also provides list of packages that should be refreshed to newer standards.

This is subjective (and feel free to criticize, but I might feel free to ignore critics :-) ). Here is the logic:

  • Debhelper compatibility level: on 2019-04-01, 87% of packages in unstable have a debhelper compatibility level of 9 or higher (9: 31%; 10: 18%; 11: 33%; 12: 5%). Therefore, using a debhelper compatibility level lower than 9 is a smell.
  • Build system: on 2019-04-01, 85% of packages in unstable use dh (cdbs: 7.3%; debhelper: 6.6%; dhmk: 0.8%; no helper at all: 0.4%). So, not using dh is a smell.
  • Source format and patch system: on 2019-04-01, 95% of packages in unstable use 3.0 (quilt) (92.8%) or 3.0 (native) (2.0%). Therefore, not using 3.0 is a smell
  • VCS: On 2019-04-01, 84.5% of packages use Git, 12.8% use no VCS at all, and 2.7% use another VCS. 52.7% use Git on Salsa, 27.8% use Git on Alioth (and will likely move to Salsa), while 4% use another Git platform. Therefore, not using Git and Salsa is a smell.
  • Overall, 67.5% of packages use a debhelper compatibility level >= 9, dh, 3.0 (native) or 3.0 (quilt), Git, and either Salsa or Alioth.
List of packages with smells:

Also available:

Contact: Lucas Nussbaum <>. See Introduction for pointers to source code.