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Ubuntu Policy Manual
Chapter 1 - About this manual

1.1 Scope

This manual describes the policy requirements for the Ubuntu distribution. This includes the structure and contents of the Ubuntu archive and several design issues of the operating system, as well as technical requirements that each package must satisfy to be included in the distribution.

This manual also describes Ubuntu policy as it relates to creating Ubuntu packages. It is not a tutorial on how to build packages, nor is it exhaustive where it comes to describing the behavior of the packaging system. Instead, this manual attempts to define the interface to the package management system that the developers have to be conversant with.[1]

The footnotes present in this manual are merely informative, and are not part of Ubuntu policy itself.

The appendices to this manual are not necessarily normative, either. Please see Introduction and scope of these appendices, Appendix A for more information.

In the normative part of this manual, the words must, should and may, and the adjectives required, recommended and optional, are used to distinguish the significance of the various guidelines in this policy document. Packages that do not conform to the guidelines denoted by must (or required) will generally not be considered acceptable for the Ubuntu distribution. Non-conformance with guidelines denoted by should (or recommended) will generally be considered a bug, but will not necessarily render a package unsuitable for distribution. Guidelines denoted by may (or optional) are truly optional and adherence is left to the maintainer's discretion.

These classifications are roughly equivalent to the bug severities serious (for must or required directive violations), minor, normal or important (for should or recommended directive violations) and wishlist (for optional items). [2]

Much of the information presented in this manual will be useful even when building a package which is to be distributed in some other way or is intended for local use only.

The Ubuntu distribution differs from its parent Debian distribution in a number of significant ways. In this document, these are marked with the tag Ubuntu:.

1.2 New versions of this document

This manual is distributed via the Ubuntu package ubuntu-policy (packages.ubuntu.com /ubuntu-policy).

The ubuntu-policy package also includes the file upgrading-checklist.txt.gz which indicates policy changes between versions of this document.

1.3 Authors and Maintainers

Originally called "Debian GNU/Linux Policy Manual", this manual was initially written in 1996 by Ian Jackson. It was revised on November 27th, 1996 by David A. Morris. Christian Schwarz added new sections on March 15th, 1997, and reworked/restructured it in April-July 1997. Christoph Lameter contributed the "Web Standard". Julian Gilbey largely restructured it in 2001.

Since September 1998, the responsibility for the contents of the Debian version of this document lies on the debian-policy mailing list. Proposals are discussed there and inserted into policy after a certain consensus is established. The actual editing is done by a group of maintainers that have no editorial powers. These are the current maintainers:

  1. Julian Gilbey

  1. Branden Robinson

  1. Josip Rodin

  1. Manoj Srivastava

The Ubuntu branch of this manual is maintained by the ubuntu-devel mailing list.

While the authors of this document have tried hard to avoid typos and other errors, these do still occur. If you discover an error in this manual or if you want to give any comments, suggestions, or criticisms please send an email to the Debian Policy List, debian-policy@lists.debian.org, or submit a bug report against the debian-policy package.

Please do not try to reach the individual authors or maintainers of the Policy Manual regarding changes to the Policy.

1.4 Related documents

There are several other documents other than this Policy Manual that are necessary to fully understand some Debian policies and procedures.

The external "sub-policy" documents are referred to in:

In addition to those, which carry the weight of policy, there is the Debian Developer's Reference. This document describes procedures and resources for Debian developers, but it is not normative; rather, it includes things that don't belong in the Policy, such as best practices for developers.

The Developer's Reference is available in the developers-reference package. It's also available from the Debian web mirrors at /doc/developers-reference/.

1.5 Definitions

The following terms are used in this Policy Manual:


The character encoding specified by ANSI X3.4-1986 and its predecessor standards, referred to in MIME as US-ASCII, and corresponding to an encoding in eight bits per character of the first 128 Unicode characters, with the eighth bit always zero.


The transformation format (sometimes called encoding) of Unicode defined by RFC 3629. UTF-8 has the useful property of having ASCII as a subset, so any text encoded in ASCII is trivially also valid UTF-8.

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Ubuntu Policy Manual

version, 2009-06-19

The Debian Policy Mailing List
The Ubuntu Developers Mailing List