Defining specific problems and handwaving at solutions (was Re: What's Canonical thinking about Bazaar?)

Matthew D. Fuller fullermd at
Sat Nov 7 09:22:55 GMT 2009

So, yeah, this got a lot longer than I intended.  But I think it's
important, and I'm out of editing time to shorten it, so I'll go ahead
and send it.

Overview: I expand a little on my previous comment in the thread.  I
mention a not-quite-related thing that I think of as a significant and
common problem that can be specifically talked about, and give a real
example of it happening.  I discuss why I think, in addition to being
a problem in and of itself, it's related to that first comment, and
both a cause AND effect of the ownership perception issue at the root
of much of this thread.  Phew.

I mention it several times below, but let me pre-iterate; I'm not
pointing at any Bad Guys.  I don't think there are bad guys, I don't
think there's intentional malice, and I'm not sure there's really
accidental malice either.  Nothing said here is meant as griping
against anyone, and where I mention people doing things that cause
friction in a process, I'm not suggesting it's done capriciously.  But
even with nobody TRYING to cause problems, or indeed liking the
resultant problems at all, problems can still exist.

On Fri, Nov 06, 2009 at 06:46:03PM +0900 I heard the voice of
Stephen J. Turnbull, and lo! it spake thus:
> Matt Fuller doesn't think it's fair in the sense of "unbiased" (my
> reading is that he thinks it fair in the sense of "good
> intentions").  He specifically said you need a Canonical employee as
> champion to get a patch through the process.  (Obviously just his
> opinion, some people have managed without, blah blah blah.)

This is what I said, though the phrasing here could be read a bit more
combative than I meant it.  You often need a _committer_ as champion.
Yes, there are non-Canonical committers, but committers that range
generally over the codebase (as opposed to cleaving rather closely to
a few pieces where they're personally active, important though those
may be) and are active?  Certainly I don't scrutinize every commit
that comes across (and you can't really tell post facto who actually
nudged PQM toward something), but I certainly feel that number comes
awful close to 0.

I certainly know that it's not the case that committers have an easy
free ride on getting their patches in either.  But committers by
virtue of their position have an advantage in that they can just
COMMIT it.  There are a number of cases where opinion among the core
persons is less than unanimously positive but nobody's really hardline
against it, where something can be Just Committed without raising
great ire.  But it's very rare that a committer will pick up those
sort of cases and run with them if it's not something they're willing
to champion.  If you're not a committer, you either need to get
overwhelming support without any real negatives from anybody, or you
need to enlist a champion.  Committers already have a champion in

> Martin Pool writes:
>  > but it's sadly a historical fact that some people give up on
>  > their patches after being asked to write tests, and that these
>  > patches languish in the bug tracker or the mail archive.
> This is important.  At least in my experience, GNU/Debian types are
> behind the curve when it comes to test-driven development.  They're
> generally willing to put in effort, but writing tests when you're
> not used to the testing framework can easily turn a 5 line patch
> into a 2-day nightmare.  A couple of riffs on that theme:

[also from earlier in the mail]

> Especially if there are not enough contributors with the skills to
> noodle a patch[1] through the process available to mentor newbies on
> their early contributions.

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