Writing QA Scripts for Debian Teams

2021-06-27 - Louis-Philippe Véronneau

Since I joined the Debian Python Team, I have had a lot of fun working on different QA issues. Although I'm still a Perl illiterate1, I've for example contributed to a few Lintian tags.

There are multiple ways to make mass QA changes to team-managed packages. Projects like the Debian Janitor are more than fantastic: they make for a robust, thorough and automated way to fix QA issues in the archive and I don't have enough good words to describe the amazing work of Jelmer Vernooij on the toolsuite the Janitor uses.

But with robustness comes complexity. The Janitor is currently based on 10 different subtools (silver-platter, ognibuild, lintian-brush, ...) and if you want to use it to fix a bug, you first need to make sure there's a Lintian tag that flags the issue you're working on. Then you need to write a lintian-brush fixer to fix said issue. Sadly, sometimes writing a new Lintian tag to flag a trivial changes is not the appropriate course of action and only creates clutter.

All this to say until now, I was a missing a "quick and somewhat dirty2" way to make simple one-off changes to a bunch of packages. 200 lines of Python later, I'm happy to report I have a simple way to replace the old Clojure Team email in d/control by the new one for all of our packages. Even better, although this script doesn't aim to be a versatile tool like the Janitor is, most of the functions can be reused for other similar one-off scripts.

Many thanks to Felix Lechner showing me the very handy Lintian Query JSON interface!

  1. I don't really enjoy coding in Perl, but it makes up so much of the current Debian infrastructure that I wish I did. I keep telling myself I should buy an "Introduction to Perl" book... 

  2. A quick and dirty way to make those changes would've been to write a shell script, but one of my 2021 resolution is to use Python for all my scripting needs.