Final thoughts/votes on Kubuntu Policy

Scott Kitterman ubuntu at
Wed Aug 6 15:24:45 UTC 2014

On Wednesday, August 06, 2014 15:05:49 Harald Sitter wrote:
> On Tue, Aug 5, 2014 at 9:58 PM, Scott Kitterman <ubuntu at> 
> > On Tuesday, August 05, 2014 21:36:24 Harald Sitter wrote:
> >> On Tue, Aug 5, 2014 at 8:40 PM, Scott Kitterman <ubuntu at>
> > 
> > wrote:
> >> > On Tuesday, August 05, 2014 19:55:07 Harald Sitter wrote:
> >> >> On Tue, Aug 5, 2014 at 7:45 PM, Scott Kitterman <ubuntu at>
> >> > 
> >> > wrote:
> >> >> > I, for one,
> >> >> > think the notion that we won't apply known fixes because upstream is
> >> >> > non-
> >> >> > responsive is silly.  I don't intend to be bound by it.
> >> >> 
> >> >> Where does the fix come from then?
> >> > 
> >> > Could be defective Python code I figured out by myself (for reference,
> >> > this
> >> > exact scenario is why we had an even sort of working displayconfig in
> >> > hardy - if this policy had been in effect, it would have had to be
> >> > removed and not replaced since there was no replacement available).
> >> 
> >> so why did you not pick up maintainership?
> > 
> > Because it would have needed a full rewrite to work with the then brand
> > new X stack reliably.  We were going to have a new tool for Intrepid
> > anyway, so beating it into sort of working was enough for Kubuntu and I'm
> > certainly not qualified to take on upstream development for all of KDE.
> Why would you not be qualified? You created a Kubuntu specific fork of
> the software, so since you were fit to maintain that one I am sure the
> same would have worked upstream. Seeing as you were able to beat it
> into working state for Kubuntu it would appear to me that there is
> nothing that would have prevented you from doing the change upstream
> and releasing a new tarball. At worse you had to roll a tarball
> instead of dumping a patch into debian/ (which would then have had
> up-to-date translations thus possibly not being all that much of a
> waste of time to begin with), at best 3 other distributions had picked
> it up and thanks to that ended up with a working display config in
> their LTS release.

Perhaps.  That would have required some commitment on my part to do work to 
support other distros that I wasn't willing to take on.  Since the X stuff does 
vary from distro to distro, I had (and still have) no idea what of what I was 
doing was Ubuntu specific and what might be generally applicable.

> The reasons why we don't want to condone dead upstream pseudo
> maintenance patchy nonesense is multifaceted. The fact that distro
> patchy is selfish towards everyone else is one part of it. Another one
> is that the patch policy needs a responsible person up the stream to
> review and approve and possibly merge a patch, with out one the patch
> policy doesn't allow certain patches at all.
> Another important side of the argument is that of reliable and
> balanced quality. No one takes on responsibility for the quality, so
> we must assume it has excessively shitty quality or is of no use
> because otherwise someone were to feel the need to stand up and take
> on maintenance or at the very least care enough to fix startup
> crashes, data loss, bug triage etc.etc.. And ultimately that leads to
> the question of whether we should have a piece of software of
> obviously shitty quality under our wings to begin with considering no
> one else wants to care about it either.

I generally agree with that, but there are cases where all the alternatives 
were worse.  Shipping without any tool at all to configure a monitor was a non-

> All that being said, perhaps the policy ought to be amended to say
> that instead of having the package removed from the archive it must
> not be on our ISOs and Kubuntu should not be the maintainer. At the
> end of the day what someone does because they want to is their own
> business. So, if someone feels like foobar should be in the archive
> and that they feel up to the task of keeping it not broken that's
> their choice to make and execute. Even if it then reflects badly on
> Kubuntu and Ubuntu at large if a user installs that software and finds
> it to be unusable for whatever reason. There is not much one can do
> about that, and this is a global problem to some extent anyway.

That's true.  It's definitely beyond the scope of what Kubuntu policy could 
mandate to insist on packages being removed from the archive if someone did 
not want them removed.  That said, we still have the situation where the 
unmaintained crap we have is better than the alternatives available.

> But, we as creators of Kubuntu however should not support selfish
> life-support patching for the software we use to build our product on.
> It does not benefit anyone to drag along broken unreliable software.
> Giving it the boot on the other hand does not only free up resources
> better spent elsewhere, it also makes people moan and whine about this
> super important application that is now gone and this makes it all the
> more likely that someone steps up and does what needs to be done to
> make it a super awesome piece of software again.

If someone had told me when I started fixing displayconfig that I could only do 
it as upstream and I couldn't upload changes to Ubuntu, then I wouldn't have 
bothered.  While I think what you are suggesting is generally correct, there 
are specific cases where it doesn't apply.  As written, it's too hard line.

> The present policy is already given a lot of leeway to make sure the
> user doesn't need to suffer unless there really is no other way. But
> the must-not-be-patched thing is really not something that can be
> changed or removed IMO. If patching maintained software is
> semi-forking then patching unmaintained software that is entirely
> broken as per the presented check list is a definite fork because the
> patched version is then the only working version and thus the defacto
> source to be used.

OK.  I don't see the leeway.  Must be removed is pretty clearly one thing.

> So, your concern is that this sort of short term workaround isn't
> possible with the presented policy, but really it is. Instead of
> making a distro patch you would commit your bandaid solution upstream,
> release a new tarball. By doing that you are making your work easily
> available to others and improve the quality of the upstream product.
> You'd then be a maintainer (of sorts). Other distros as well as our
> guys might have additional tweaks so they run it by you (for example
> as per our patch policy) and maybe after 3 months you roll a new
> tarball and official declare displayconfig is now to be considered
> rubbishware and one should use xyreplacement going forward.
> Instead of making other distros run circles around kubuntu packaging
> to find the relevant patch and then somehow try to keep an eye on it
> in case some other kubuntu dev improves on it, the very same thing has
> been published upstream and everyone knows how and has tech to watch
> upstream for cahnges and how to deal with upstream and even how to
> roll a simple tarball from upstream including translations and whatnot
> (e.g. the releaseme framework).

Commit upstream is great for people with upstream commit rights.  For distro 
packagers like me, it's a whole mess of bureaucracy that's a lot of work.  
Slightly similarly, I noticed an obvious error in the last kapidox release.  I 
fixed it (patch) and pinged the maintainer on IRC.  I think that's enough.

> There does not appear to be anything wrong with sharing one's
> accomplishments.

There's nothing wrong with it.  It may be more trouble than it's worth in some 

Scott K

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