Setting up Sid Development Environment for Debian Packaging
Last updated: Dec 28, 2020
Why a sid env?
Debian packages are developed for Debian through the Unstable distribution or Unstable Branch. Debian almost always has three distributions going for it at any point of time. There is a stable branch which is currently Buster which is what users put on their production machines and is recommended by Debian for it’s users as it’s officially supported by the community and recieves regular updates that resolves bugs and provides security patches. Concurrently Debian also maintains two other Distributions: testing which currently is Bullseye and unstable which always will be Sid. The way this works is when a new release is made the Debian Developers discuss and decide what features they wish to implement in the next release. They work on these features in Sid which is used to package new packages that are uploaded to the Sid archives and once they’ve proven their usability they’re moved to the testing archives where they’re further tested and worked upon. When all the features that was decided has been implemented and the distribution contains no release critical bugs, a new version of Debian is released that is the Testing becomes the new stable and the current stable becomes old-stable. The next stable version will be current testing which is Bullseye and Buster at that point will become old-stable.
So in short in order to do packaging we need a Sid env set up somehow. You can Dual Boot, use VMs, use container tech such as Docker or LXD or create a schroot.
I personally prefer schroot. Schroot is light-weight and easy to set-up and use, but the real feature that sells schroot for me is that it uses the same home folder that my base distro uses. So I can access the files that I worked from schroot without entering schroot and there’s a lot less duplicatiion of config files.
Setting a Sid env with Schroot.
If you already have a Debian stable or Debian-based distribution (Arch also has schroot package, though if you have a different distro, you need to check if it has schroot package), this option is best for you. These instructions assume you are already running a Linux Distribution (preferably Debian Stable).
sudo apt install schroot debootstrap
Create root file system:
/srv contains data served by your system, it’s a relatively new folder in Unix and not a lot of distributiions use it. We will create a folder in the /srv directory to home the root files of our Debian Sid env.
mkdir -p /srv/chroot/debian-sid
Now we will use
debootstrap to pull the Debian Sid files.
debootstrap sid /srv/chroot/debian-sid
Now create a text file
/etc/schroot/chroot.d/debian-sid with your favorite text editor and add the following lines in it:
[debian-sid] description=Debian Sid for building packages suitable for uploading to debian type=directory directory=/srv/chroot/debian-sid users=<your username> root-groups=root personality=linux preserve-environment=true
<your username> is an underprivileged user on your host system.
And there you go! We have successfully set up a Debian Sid env that you can now use to package Debian packages.
To enter schroot as a superuser, enter the following from a terminal.
sudo schroot -c debian-sid
W: Failed to change to directory '/ ... is common warning and can be ignored for now.
Now that you’re in schroot play around a bit. Install your favorite applications:
apt-get update && apt-get install <some-package>
Once you’re done just type in
exit and hit enter to exit the schroot.
To run schroot as normal user, type in:
schroot -c debian-sid
You will notice that your home folder in your base system is still your home folder and all the files are accessible to you and your configs such as your .bashrc will work here too.
Setting up sudo
Maybe you don’t want to exit out of your normal user and re-enter schroot as the root user everytime you want to install a dependency for a package and want sudo. You can set it up the exact same way you would in regular distro.
First, enter the schroot as root with the command given above and install sudo with
apt install sudo
Once that is done add your user to the sudo group with this command:
usermod -aG sudo <your username>
Now you can exit from the root shell and re-enter schroot as a normal user and run sudo.
How to make sure you’ve set up everything correctly?
Run the command
cat /etc/debian_version and it should give you an output as shown below.
❯ cat /etc/debian_version bullseye/sid