* Neal Gompa:
In the merged-source world, the packaging is an aspect of managing
software codebase. This is common in Debian and ALT Linux, where the
standard practice with their tooling is to fork the codebase and
integrate the packaging files into the tree. Changes then are managed
as part of evolving the sources, and packaging is mainly touched when
preparing to push to build. And for $DAYJOB, I've implemented this
model for software that $DAYJOB makes (we use the split-source model
for stuff we didn't write).
This is not an accurate representation of what Debian does. The
guidelines and tools very much encourage broken-out patches. The
representation is slightly different (via the “debian” subdirectory in a
source tree), but this does not mean that you can just change files
outside the “debian” directory (i.e., upstream sources), build the
Debian SRPM equivalent, and have it built.