Kubuntu and main/universe

Jonathan Thomas echidnaman at gmail.com
Wed May 23 12:44:37 UTC 2012

Hi Colin,

I regret being unable to attend UDS in person, but I hope you had a
good time and aren't suffering from the Ubuflu. :)

On Wed, May 23, 2012 at 7:49 AM, Colin Watson <cjwatson at ubuntu.com> wrote:
> Hi Kubuntu folks,
> At this UDS, the old "archive reorg" topic came up again
> (https://wiki.ubuntu.com/ArchiveReorganisation for those unfamiliar with
> it; this page also contains some background for some of the Ubuntu
> archive jargon I've inevitably ended up using in this post), and I had a
> side discussion with Jonathan about a Kubuntu-related question arising
> from it.
> Ultimately, I still do plan to move all free software in the archive to
> a single consolidated "main" component and express who supports what in
> ways that are rather more flexible than (effectively) moving files
> around in the pool; but it's clear at this point that I'm only going to
> be able to lay the groundwork for that this cycle, not actually do it.
> In advance of that, though, my question is as follows: is being in main
> actually much more than an obstruction to Kubuntu development these
> days?
> Up to now, the packages that make up Kubuntu - at least the images you
> ship - have been in main at least in part because Canonical was offering
> some level of support for them, and thus we wanted to make sure they
> passed an explicit review by our security team and the like.  Now that
> that isn't the case, though, being in main basically means that
> Canonical is requiring main inclusion review for Kubuntu even though we
> aren't offering support for it, out of step with all other community
> flavours, and thus imposing an extra chunk of work on you that nobody
> else has to do.  That seems rather unfair!  When I spoke to him at UDS,
> Jonathan seemed to feel the same way, and indicated that you might well
> want to consider moving Kubuntu-specific packages to universe.
> Now, this is one particular way to look at things, and I realise that
> you could cast the question differently.  Since the main component has
> that extra level of review associated with it and has a more restricted
> uploader group, many people do regard it as having an extra claim of
> quality.  I don't want to be the guy "kicking Kubuntu out of main"; if
> we make this change in advance of a more sweeping archive
> reorganisation, I'd much rather do it with your consent and indeed
> enthusiasm.  My conversation with Jonathan suggested that this might
> well be forthcoming, but I said I'd mail kubuntu-devel to see what other
> people think.

I think moving from main would be beneficial to us. Currently, there
are several Kubuntu packages with optional build-dependencies on
universe components providing extra functionality that we cannot build
against. In addition to us missing out on a few nice features, it also
makes packaging diffs with Debian just a bit larger, which is
undesirable. In my experience, I don't think there's any protest
amongst the Kubuntu team about whether or not a move from main ->
universe is desirable, but I'll let them speak for themselves. ;-)

> Some other details:
>  * What effect would such a change have on upgrades?  update-manager
>   shows a "no longer supported by Canonical" message for installed
>   packages that have been moved from main to universe between releases;
>   does muon have anything like this?  I don't want to scare off Kubuntu
>   users.

Currently all Muon is doing is running a script based on
update-manager's MetaReleaseCore class to check for distribution
updates, and offering to launch the Qt distribution upgrade frontend
to update-manager if a new release is available. This would mean that
all the Kubuntu packages would show up as "no longer supported by
Canonical." I hadn't thought of this point, but it definitely would
need to be addressed.

>  * Moving to universe would imply not using language packs any more,
>   because uploads to universe don't have translations stripped out and
>   sent through the Launchpad translations system.  Jonathan suggested
>   that this would be a desirable change for Kubuntu, but I expect that
>   at the very least it would be a respectable chunk of work for
>   somebody to unwind all of that infrastructure.  (As an aside, we'll
>   need to think about how this would work post-archive-reorg if more or
>   less everything ends up in main.)

The work required wouldn't be exactly non-trivial, but I don't think
it would be too onerous either. After the removal of the packaging
magic that we use to strip the stuff from Kubuntu packages properly,
all that would need to be done would be to rebuild all of the affected
packages. We already upload per-language language packs that KDE
provides. These end up getting stripped down to only providing the
translated documentation KDE distributes, but if these were no longer
stripped, we'd only have to rebuild these, too. This would provide KDE
language packs much like the ones Ubuntu is shipping. (At least in
terms of coverage) We would still probably have to at least keep some
of the language-selector stack around for getting things like
translations for firefox and other non KDE apps that users may

>  * A number of Kubuntu-specific packages would need to stay in main for
>   transitive-closure reasons: source packages in main that, for
>   example, build bindings for both GTKish and Qtish worlds will
>   generally build-depend on both, which will cause those
>   build-dependencies to stay in main along with all their
>   (build-)dependencies.  I don't want to encourage people to start
>   splitting source packages for the sake of this, so a number of base
>   packages would stay in main regardless.  Still, lots of UI packages
>   would be able to drop out to a component with less restrictive
>   processes.
>   I've attached a file showing a first pass at what the results would
>   have been if we'd done this for 12.04.
>  * Are there any effects on mirroring that you care about?  Right now,
>   it's in principle possible to run an archive mirror useful to Kubuntu
>   users with only main (and maybe restricted).  This change would mean
>   you'd have to have universe as well.  On the other hand, Xubuntu et
>   al have this problem today anyway, and maybe you only care about
>   things like the major per-country mirror network which carries
>   everything.
>  * Would there be any "soft" questions of PR and the like that would
>   need to be addressed?

Probably most of the damage was done by Canonical's announcement of
dropping support. We would of course frame this as giving us more
flexibility, but I think it would be better if we didn't make a big
deal about this. (imo)

> Thanks,
> --
> Colin Watson                                       [cjwatson at ubuntu.com]

Thanks again for the update!


More information about the kubuntu-devel mailing list