Your message dated Fri, 11 Aug 2017 12:44:51 -0700
with message-id <>
and subject line Closing inactive Policy bugs
has caused the Debian Bug report #694384,
regarding possibly allow initial blank lines in control files
to be marked as done.

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Package: debian-policy

At present, 213 packages fail to build using pbuilder, because they contain a
debian/control file starting with comment lines, then a blank line, then the
actual contents. This is caused by gnome-pkg-tools, as described in further
detail in #684503.

At present, policy states (in 5.2) that blank lines separate paragraphs,
comments are discarded, and that the *first* paragraph contains essential
package information (Policy 5.2).

This raises the question whether an empty paragraph *is a paragraph*. I had
initiated some discussion on d-devel [1], with no uniform opinion about this. In
order not to base any outcome on philosophical discussions, I suggest to
consider RFC822 as the technical base: This defines a message as

    message     =  fields *( CRLF *text )       ; Everything after
                                                ;  first null line
                                                ;  is message body

with blank lines (CRLF) only being permitted after the initial fields.

Note that, however, apparently only pbuilder enforces such a strict
interpretation. Other tools, including dpkg and lintian, appear to interpret the
"first paragraph" as the "first non-empty paragraph."

Many thanks,


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control: user
control: usertag -1 +obsolete
control: tag -1 +wontfix

Russ Allbery and I did a round of in-person bug triage at DebConf17 and
we are closing this bug as inactive.

The reasons for closing fall into the following categories, from most
frequent to least frequent:

- issue is appropriate for Policy, there is a consensus on how to fix
  the problem, but preparing the patch is very time-consuming and no-one
  has volunteered to do it, and we do not judge the issue to be
  important enough to keep an open bug around;

- issue is appropriate for Policy but there does not yet exist a
  consensus on what should change, and no recent discussion.  A fresh
  discussion might allow us to reach consensus, and the messages in the
  old bug are unlikely to help very much; or

- issue is not appropriate for Policy.

If you feel this bug is still relevant and want to restart the
discussion, you can re-open the bug.  However, please consider instead
opening a new bug with a message that summarises and condenses the
previous discussion, updates the report for the current state of Debian,
and makes clear exactly what you think should change.

A lot of these old bugs have long side tangents and numerous messages,
and that old discussion is not necessarily helpful for figuring out what
Debian Policy should say today.

Sean Whitton

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