This policy is intended to suggest, not to enforce.
Arch tries, as much as possible, to ship packages as the original author of the software intended. This means that every time we add a patch, we take one more step away from their intent. Additionally, patches can be hard to maintain when we're talking hundreds of packages.
When is patching acceptable?
It's inevitable that some software will need modifications to work.
- Patches to the build system are pretty much always allowed. This is usually needed when Arch's tools are too new for shipped scripts, and things do not work right (libtool is a known offender here).
- Patches due to a too new compiler are usually allowed. GCC releases tend to be more and more strict, disallowing things that were once allowed. Fixing compiler errors so that the source builds under Arch are common and allowable.
- When a major feature doesn't work in the app, bug fix patches are allowed. To explain 'major feature', think of an app that burns DVDs - if it doesn't burn DVDs due to a bug, well, that's a major feature. If the 'Help' menu doesn't work, well, that's a minor feature.
When is patching discouraged?
- Fixing minor features is not our job and patches should not be applied to fix things not directly related to the app's functionality. Patches to fix typos or images are discouraged.
- Additional features should NOT be added by Arch. Patches that add completely new features should be sent to upstream. As said before - we ship packages as the ORIGINAL AUTHORS intended them. Not as WE intend them.
- Features denied by upstream. If a patch was sent and the original developers denied it, we should NEVER apply that patch, no matter how opinionated we are. You are welcome to fork the app and supply a package for your own app.