debtags defunct?

MK halfcountplus at
Tue Aug 17 16:41:42 UTC 2010

On Thu, 12 Aug 2010 19:16:26 +0100
Enrico Zini <enrico at> wrote:
> Oooh! \o/ \o/ \o/
> That is excellent news!

Okay, here is the current wiki-in-development:

The wiki uses the "Semantic" extension to mediawiki (this is not
present in wikipedia, n.b.) to create searchable, tag like criteria.  If
you look at a software listing (eg, try "Random Page" from the nav
sidebar) you'll notice stuff like "Prerequisites", "Dependancies",
"Interface style", and "Software Categories".  They are not necessarily
present for all pages and their significance may be more obviously
apparent if you use the search form:

"Interface style" and in particular "Software Category" are the
criteria I think most easily/appropriately garnered from debtag's
facet::tag structure.  Most of the other data is already available via
apt-cache, so I'd like to use debtags to round out the information; this
way we can add stuff from debian databases without having to leave some
of the wiki criteria blank.

> Rather than abandoned I'd call it stable: 

Yes, sorry about that -- I downloaded the CVS onto a fedora system
thinking I could hack a db, then noticed the last "news" on your site
is c. 2006.  Anyway, I now have the debtags distro package installed
here on ubuntu and gnusense.

Which leads to my first real question(s):  I ran "debtags update" and
then tried "debtags show debtags" (or "debtags show vim", et. al.), but
contra the manpage, this just gives exactly the same thing as
"apt-cache show" -- there is no facet::tag data.  Without searching for
a specific tag, the only way I seem to be able to get this info is via
"debtags cat".  That may actually be sufficient, since the package
names can be paired with an apt-cache dump, but any suggestions or
insight you might have here would be good.  Again, I don't need to
search by tag, I need to get tag info by package (I notice "debtags
grep" does not work with the package name).

> It should be very easy to parse: read one line at a time, use /:\s+/
> to split packages from tags, and /,\s+/ to split the tag list.

Okay, so that is the same as the "debtags cat" dump?

> If then you allow people to edit tags in your mediawiki, it'd be
> fantastic if the edits you get could be contributed back. That should
> be also rather easy to arrange, again we'll talk about it if it's
> something you'd like to do and when we'll get there.

I am developing a php API to allow people to machine query the site
(various groups are interested in mirroring the info in various ways),
so at the very least you should be able to come up with a way to mine
stuff that way. I'll keep this desire in mind as I proceed ;)

> But let's go one step at a time. Is the vocabulary adequate for your
> needs?

Looking thru that cat dump I think it will not be hard to map this to
the existing "Software categories" (there are 200 or so, taken directly
from the old database) and the interface facet is identical, so this is
starting to look easier than at first I thought.  When I come up with a
mapping, maybe I will run it by you for an opinion?

Anyway, if you have a few minutes to look at the wiki and lemme know if
anything occurs to you in these regards, it would be much
appreciated.   The current format is not carved in stone, and it's the
FSF Board that originally expressed interest in using debtags, so they
(and I) are probably open to ideas vis. a closer correlation to the
facet::tag system (within the peculiar confines of semantic mediawiki).

Sincerly, Mark Eriksen

MK <halfcountplus at>

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