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    Suggestions for Improving Packaging Efficiency?
    Submitted by hackel on Saturday, April 20, 2002 – 23:19
    In light of the rather nasty debate in the KDE story below, I thought it would be a good idea to solicit suggestions for a solution to the issue of large packaging projects getting hung up on one person’s limited availability and/or abilities. Both sides present a valid case — developers volunteering their time do not deserve to be put down for their mistakes or a lack of time, yet if they are unable to do a job, especially when others are willing and able to do it, then those people should be given that chance. What do you think is a good solution to this problem?
    By the way, I’m not a Debian developer, just an avid user who knows what it’s like when many people are in need of my time. The idea that seems most natural to me is to setup some official CVS servers for the development of large packages, and ensure that no one person ever has ultimate control over the archive, kind of a Debian-centric Sourceforge. But again, I’ve not been there, so I’m more interested in what you all think. Please be friendly and give constructive comments. 🙂

    Robot101: People interested in seeing Openoffice in Debian have done just that, and have recently announced that they were using a CVS archive to co-ordinate their work. I expect we’ll see more of this kind of thing for large packages such as this. Even though it may not be obvious, many large packages such as X, glibc, dpkg, apache2 and gcc do already recieve significant help from groups of regular contributors, and anyone can help with any package by posting a patch to the BTS.

    However it will be much harder to disperse the idea that developers have ‘ultimate control’ over their packages – whether this is a good thing or not. Theoretically the technical comittee can override them if they reach consensus, but it never has and currently has difficulty responding to issues raised, let alone reaching a consensus.

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    Subject: Re: Suggestions for Improving Packaging Efficiency?
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Sunday, 2002/04/21 – 00:01
    At least part of the issue, i think, goes back to problems with debian’s stable release schedule. When a new “stable” is coming up, more then any other time, developers spend their time working on making old versions of software work better, so that they won’t get kicked from stable. Meanwhile, new versions of the software are released, and the maintainer gets behind, and actually has to spend time catching up.

    Maybe the “stable/testing/unstable” philosophy of debian’s releases needs to extend to the maintainers as well? A maintainer to bring in changes from upstream (unstable), a maintainer to deal with release issues (stable)… I’m not sure how a maintainer at the “testing” level would make sense, but then again this is just a random idea I’m throwing up. Thoughts?

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    Subject: Re: Suggestions for Improving Packaging Efficiency?
    Author: robot101
    Date: Sunday, 2002/04/21 – 00:24
    Sounds inherently sensible – after all it is what they do with kernels. Linus breaks stuff at the cutting edge, and palms it off to Marcello or Alan when he’s had enough, and they bring it under control. If only we could fork() and have the parent work on the unstable versions, and the children work on maintaining the older versions. Makes it sound a bit like slave labour though. =)

    Maybe a guy for stable is overkill – little effort is required except for security releases which are handled by their team, but a maintainer at “testing” level makes sense if a new upstream version isn’t suitable for the upcoming release, like with KDE3 or X4.2 for woody.

    If the unstable guy (no pun intended, Branden =) worked on the new version, perhaps uploading to experimental, and someone else could work on squashing bugs in the pending-release version, uploading to unstable, Debian would have less criticism levelled towards it for being slow to adopt new upstream versions.

    Maybe this could all fit in with the CVS’d packages idea by having branches for released versions to ease syncing up and avoiding duplicated effort.

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