At Phase2, as we develop more and more Drupal Platforms (more on this another time) we wind up with many custom modules that are not contributed back to drupal.org. They are either too tied to a specific client, or something that is not ready for general consumption, or frankly, the client might see as a strategic competitive advantage. Regardless of the reason, for modules not hosted on drupal.org you lose some ability to have the wonderful update_status module provide info to your site implementations when the custom modules are out of date…or so I thought.
There is an undocumented “feature” that I discovered while scouring the source code in my bid to extend update_status to allow external status reports. It seems you have the ability, in your modules .info file, to specify the base URL that update_status will check to see if there are subsequent releases of your modules. In your modules .info file you will add something like
project status url = http://some.host.com/drupal-module-releases
The default URL for drupal.org is: http://updates.drupal.org/release-history The format is for update_status URLs are: baseurl/modulename/version So the url to check versions of the views module for Drupal release 5.x is http://updates.drupal.org/release-history/views/5.x
There might be some more to this, some details I have left out, etc. I’ll let you know once we implement it.
I also added this as a comment to the Drupal handbook page for .info files. http://drupal.org/node/101009