Public bug reported:

A user trying to rebuild a Debian package of us ran into the problem
that he didn't get debug packages any longer. (The original bug report
and discussion around it is available at )

In Ubuntu's debhelper changelog I found:

debhelper (9.20160115ubuntu2) xenial; urgency=medium

  * dh-strip: Adjust reversion of commit f1a803456 to account for the recent
    ENABLE_DDEBS → ENABLE_DBGSYM rename. This actually disables -dbgsym
    generation by dh_strip by default again. (LP: #1535949)

This matches what's documented under the "Ubuntu" section at
This doesn't seem to really match what's documented in Ubuntu's dh_strip 
manpage though:

       --automatic-dbgsym, --no-automatic-dbgsym
           Control whether dh_strip should be creating debug symbol packages 
when possible.

           The default is to create debug symbol packages.

In Ubuntu's dh_strip implementation I stumbled upon:

  $dh{ENABLE_DBGSYM} = 0 if not $ENV{'DH_BUILD_DDEBS'};

So only if DH_BUILD_DDEBS is set then dbgsym packages are generated, and
indeed this has been verified by the original bug reporter on Ubuntu
Server 16.04.3 LTS.

So the documentation seems to be wrong/incomplete. Probably it would
also make sense to switch the default around, to by default
automatically generate the dbgsym packages, so that users get a more
consistent behavior. You could then force it to off on Ubuntu's build
daemons instead, if that's relevant.

** Affects: debhelper (Ubuntu)
     Importance: Undecided
         Status: New

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  dbgsym packages are generated iff DH_BUILD_DDEBS is set

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