This guide introduces usage of
quilt for managing patches to Debian packages.
It describes how to create,
apply and unapply patches with
This is a work in progress. Please send any comments or ideas to <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
quilt helps managing a series of patches that a Debian package maintainer needs applied to upstream source when building the package.
It is similar to
cdbs's simple-patchsys in that the patches are kept as a series of files in debian/patches.
quilt uses a special directory for keeping patches.
that directory is ./patches/ by default.
For Debian packages ./debian/patches/ is far more comfortable.
To flawlessly fix this,
export QUILT_PATCHES=debian/patches in your shell resource file and reload it.
This way you won't have to worry about this quilt oddity (like me; even forgot to mention it in the first revision of this document).
You can also create .quiltrc in your home directory and set
QUILT_PATCHES there if you prefer.
quilt manages the series of patches as a stack.
You push to it (apply a patch) and pop from it (unapply a patch).
A special file,
contains the list of all patches to be applied.
quilt applies patches in the order they are listed in that file.
quilt works in the source tree.
There's no copying large trees around.
There's also no need to always keep the source tree clean of unapplied changes just to be able to extract a diff with Git.
To achieve this,
quilt needs to know which files are contained in each patch.
The workflow is as follows:
quiltthat you start working on a given patch
quiltthat you're done
At first this sounds complicated but actually it is not. You just speak to your patch system so it knows what you're doing and handles the details.
Here are a few examples of working with
Note that most of the commands below have plenty of options so reading quilt man page is a good idea.
To create a patch,
quilt new $patch_name.
If you want
you need to give it explicitly.
This creates a new patch entry in debian/patches. This patch also becomes the topmost or current patch. This is the patch that is at the top of the stack.
Now choose what file you want to change in that patch and run
quilt edit $file.
quilt notes the current state of the file and launches your
$EDITOR so you can edit the file.
quilt edit command for every file you want to be changed by that patch.
When you're finished,
This compares the noted state of the edited files with their present state,
and produces a patch in debian/patches.
Note that this patch is currently applied.
Check it with
If the package is already being maintained in the pkg-perl Git repository,
it is necessary to tell Git that you have added new files.
You can do this with
git add debian/patches ; git commit.
Now that we have the patch applied,
let's play with it.
quilt pop unapplies the topmost patch.
quilt push applies the next patch in the series.
You may see the list of unapplied patches with
To edit a patch,
you have to first make it current (be on the top of the stack of applied patches).
If the patch is already applied (but not the top),
quilt pop $patch_name; if it is not,
quilt push $patch_name.
Now that the patch is on the top of the stack,
quilt edit $file as before.
You can edit files that were already in the patch and you can edit new files.
When you're done,
remember to tell this to
quilt by running
quilt delete deletes,
quilt rename renames a patch.
There are a lot more.
See the manual page.
3.0 (quilt) source format is used (see below),
quilt needs to be added to
Build-Depends-Indep (for arch:all packages) is not appropriate as
quilt is needed by the
Note: Patches should be unapplied before committing other changes to Git! If you forget, don't worry, Lintian will issue a warning to remind you.
Since patches are used so often,
the "3.0 (quilt)" source package format supports them by default.
A running build system will use quilt if it's available and
dpkg-source can apply patches otherwise.
To test your package,
you can do this:
$ apt-get source libacme-foo-perl $ mkdir -p libacme-foo-perl-0.1/debian/source $ echo "3.0 (quilt)" >libacme-foo-perl-0.1/debian/source/format $ dpkg-source -b libacme-foo-perl-0.1 $ dpkg-source -x libacme-foo-perl-0.1-1.dsc $ cd libacme-foo-perl-0.1 && debuild -us -uc
Instructions how to convert your package to '3.0 (quilt)' package source format can be found there: http://wiki.debian.org/Projects/DebSrc3.0#Howtoconvertasourcepackage.3F.
If you happen to maintain a perl module package, the following command may help you migrate to
3.0 (quilt) source format:
dh-make-perl refresh --source-format='3.0 (quilt)'
See dh-make-perl(1) for more details.
include /usr/share/quilt/quilt.make has some candy for debian/rules. First, it defines
QUILT_PATCHES to be debian/patches so that one doesn't have to worry about that setting during the build process.
Second, it defines
QUILT_STAMPFN, which can be used as a
unpatch target is useful as a
Here's a sample fragment from debian/rules:
include /usr/share/quilt/quilt.make build: build-stamp build-stamp: $(QUILT_STAMPFN) dh_testdir ... clean: unpatch dh_clean build-stamp ...
Note that using the following:
build: patch build-stamp build-stamp: ...
can fail if parallel build is allowed via
build-stamp would be run in parallel, possibly failing due to partly applied patches.
N.B. /usr/share/quilt/quilt.make is available since
quilt version 0.40. This version is available since Etch so the build-dependency can usually be without version.
quilt offers a simpler integration with debhelper. A simple debian/rules can now be written as (needs
debhelper >= 7.0.8):
%: dh $@ --with quilt
dh_quilt_unpatch can be added to debian/rules.
For the details take a look at /usr/share/doc/quilt/README.Debian and/or
Sometimes you need to rename a file, for example if there are some nice scripts you'd like to have installed, but they have a .pl extension. For Debian packages, scripts are usually installed with the extension dropped, so that you can call it on the command line as:
$ some_utility blahblah # rather than $ some_utility.pl blahblah
In this case, you will need to patch the script file itself so that it only refers to itself as the new name. Afterward, you rename the file using an override (see the
debhelper article for more). You need to make sure the patch is applied first, then the file can be renamed -- this way, if one uses
dpkg-source to do the patching, it will work properly -- if you rename the file first, then
dpkg-source won't be able to find the file (since the build isn't being run, and the file hasn't been renamed yet) and it will fail.
%: dh $@ --with quilt override_dh_quilt_patch: dh_quilt_patch [ -f bin/some_utility ] || mv bin/some_utility.pl bin/some_utility override_dh_quilt_unpatch: [ -f bin/some_utility.pl ] || mv bin/some_utility bin/some_utility.pl dh_quilt_unpatch
If you use source format
3.0 (quilt), the patches are applied/ un-applied at the right point.
If you use source format
3.0 (quilt), you don't need debian/README.source, since the package itself doesn't use quilt but a dpkg feature.
Else, as of Debian Policy version 3.8.0, packages that use a patch system, such as quilt, are required to have a debian/README.source file explaining how to generate the patched source, add a new modification, and remove an existing modification. A standard debian/README.source file is used for all packages maintained by the Debian Perl Group. The debian/README.source file looks like this:
This package uses quilt to manage all modifications to the upstream source. Changes are stored in the source package as diffs in debian/patches and applied during the build. See /usr/share/doc/quilt/README.source for a detailed explanation.
You can also use
packagecheck -Q -c to generate the debian/README.source file.
FIXME: compare against the current practical alternative, that is gbp-pq(1). Let's be fair :)
This is due to the fact that quilt works within the source tree.
dpatch needs to create a copy, then diff recursively.
quilt push -f # force rejections quilt edit files-with-rejections quilt refresh
quilt push quilt refresh
quilt saves patches that look like the output from
diff. This means they include timestamps for each changed file.
quilt also preserves
Index: lines, such as those generated by
svn diff. However,
patch doesn't need any of that data to apply the patch and it has the unfortunate side effect of causing every file header line of the patch to change each time someone runs
To use the simplest headers in the patch, add:
QUILT_DIFF_ARGS="--no-timestamps --no-index -pab" QUILT_REFRESH_ARGS="--no-timestamps --no-index -pab"
to ~/.quiltrc or set those variables in the environment if you prefer. The next time you
quilt refresh a patch,
quilt will remove the extraneous information.
If upstream has made a change that conflicts with a patch, one normally force-applies the patch (with
quilt push -f patch) and then looks at the resulting *.rej file to see what part of the patch failed. By default, rejected hunks come out in unified diff format if the input patch was of that format, otherwise in ordinary context diff form. If you're using patches in context diff format, you can tell
quilt to create unified context diffs for the *.rej files by putting:
in your ~/.quiltrc or by setting that variable in the environment.
Attention: --unified-reject-files was removed in
patch 2.6.1-1. Having this option in ~/.quiltrc breaks quilt.
Copyright (c) 2007-2012 by the individual authors and contributors noted above. All rights reserved. This document is free software; you may redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself
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