Resolving a library name conflict

Ole Streicher debian at
Sat Jan 14 04:35:31 PST 2012

Hi everyone,

I am currently packaging "wcstools"
<> for Debian. This is
mainly a tool collection for use in astrophysics. However, it also
contains a library "libwcs.a" that is used (mainly by copying the
source) in a number of other projects in astrophysics, like

- sextracor <>
- ds9 <>
and others.

The problem arises now that there is a package "wcslib"
<> which builds a library
with the same name, but a different API. Both libraries have some common
roots (?); however they are not exchangable (with some exceptions,
ironically the wcstools package is one of them). wcslib is used in an
increasing number of projects, like CPL by ESO
<> and pywcs
<>. I have the impression that wcslib
is going to be the standard for new projects (but in wcstools are still
some features that are not in wcslib)

As far as I found out, the wcstools library was not intended to be
shared between packages; however it is useful to build it as a shared
library and use it commonly between packages, and experience in Fedora
Linux show that this approach is successfull. Since the packages have to
be patched anyway to use an external library instead of the builtin
(copied) sources, the library name is not so important.

For this case, I had the idea to rename the library built with wcstools:

* wcstools builds "libwcstools.a" and "*"
* wcslib builds "libwcs.a" and "*"

It turned out that in 2009, Sergio Pascual had the same idea
for fedora, and there was the proposal to discuss this with the upstream
authors as well as with the freedesktop mailing list. However, at this
time the freedesktop discussion seemed not to take place, and the
wcstools package was going to be removed in 2011 from fedora.

What is the state of these libraries in the other distributions and
would this proposal be a compromise where all could agree?

Best regards


(Cc:ed are the authors of wcstools and wcslib and the Debian development
mailing list)

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