[CentOS] rpm - diff and patch updating

Tue Jun 15 12:55:16 UTC 2010
R P Herrold <herrold at owlriver.com>

On Tue, 15 Jun 2010, Frank Cox wrote:

> By way of experimentation, I manually changed one of the files in the
> new version to match what the patch says it should be, then created a
> new patch file from that and it applies and appears to work fine.  (I
> patched the previous version's file, compared the result to the original
> and made the same change in the new version's file.)

ugghhh --- doable, but laborious ... ;)

> I have two questions:
> First, am I going about this the right way?

no -- Usually one unrolls the old tree, applies the patches to 
the old; and then unrolls the new in a directory 'next to' the 
first, and diffs from a point above the top of each

This produces a new patch set, which may already have some of 
what the older patches formerly needed to do (or a wholly 
different approach, when two forks diverge)

> And if so, is there a way
> to automate the process as described in the previous paragraph?

Early automation of a partially understood technology 
seems like a premature optimization  ;)

> Second, what is the proper convention for handling this in a rpm?  The
> obvious solution seems to be to create new patch files and throw the old
> ones away, then build the rpm from that.  Some of these patches appear
> to go back several versions, though, so is there a better or more proper
> way to handle this than just throwing them out and making a whole new
> set of patches?

A serious developer will usually have available a complete 
copy of the master upstream, and local branches which are used 
and discarded without a second thought, once the 'fruit' from 
an approach is 'cherrypicked' [disk space has become 
inexpensive];  Mere re-packagers can usually get by with less, 
and simply pluck prior packages containing (in part) tarballs 
and patches, and diff between two points in time

This is to some degree a matter of taste and administrative 
approach.  A big fat batch was used in the old and early 
kernel and libc days to distribute 'nightly deltas' which one 
would D/L and apply one after another againast a periodic 
master tarball.  As bandwidth availability has grown, this 
fell by the wayside, and later distributed version control 
systems ('VCS') have emerged as the approach favored there

The world is moving to building from VCS as well as 
snap-shotting; for safety's sake, periodically rolling and 
signing a SRPM or saving a file containing a signed set of 
checksums for a backup tarball comes to mind as 'good 
practices' See:
and the prior experience of the Linux kernel folks, as well as 
at Fedora and Red Hat with the issue of detecting possible 
hostile substituted checkins

> I have learned a lot more about patch and diff tonight than I ever
> needed to know before.  Very cool stuff, and very useful.

I wrote this introduction to let people get an early success 
doing patching and SRPM building


and it is designed to be approachible

-- Russ herrold