libc borked (and I stop testing)

Vincenzo Ciancia ciancia at
Thu Mar 13 12:03:32 UTC 2008

Il giorno mer, 12/03/2008 alle 23.20 -0400, Cory K. ha scritto:
> Thanx to the genius who let the libc update through and rendered 3
> systems unbootable here. I look forward to your visit to my home to fix
> them.
> Frustrated and pissed,
> Cory K.

Even though the tone of the mail is angry, it's really bad that things
like this libc update happen - I personally don't understand how this is
possible at all, if developers test their packages.

A "revert system after upgrade" mode should be designed and implemented
to the benefit of testers (unionfs plus a "commit" operation to the main
filesystem seems to me like an implementable solution). Would not be
efficient but would be a bit safer - you already have unionfs in the
livecd so you have some expertise.
I am sad to say that my hardy testing experience stops here - I wanted
to make my experience as a free software user, and as a developer,
available to ubuntu community as a form of payment for such a good
distribution. Problem is not the libc bug by itself of course. If you
want to know read below - but it's not necessary at all.

Problem is that I should waste hours fixing the libc bug, and I am doing
this just to let the world benefit from fixes I can already install and
hack up locally on my pc. The balance between costs and benefits is
dropping down too quick.

Many regressions I've personally been trying to help sorting out have a
fix, signaled by one of the testers (usually not me since I am not that
smart, but I usually took the time to test the fix and reported) and the
fix is not being applied, and developers are waiting for *users* to
UVFE. I am more and more being convinced that testing new ubuntu is a
complete waste of time for me.

The main point that, to my eyes, the ubuntu "upload-enabled community"
seems not to be understanding, is that one should try to re-use people's
expertise. You can't ask a person that already can debug a kernel module
to also learn to package debs and all the ubuntu burocracy. That's a
problem of developers. If you have a clever user (I am *not* talking
about me :) ) that provides a fix and explains how he/she got there, you
can't ask for more. You are the developer, you have the expertise to fix
bugs in ubuntu, the tester provided the fix, having the expertise to
test it, why not joining forces? 

<personal story follows, the main point of the e-mail is what you
already read>

Next LTS won't have proper support for my tablet. I surrender. It's two
years I have been waiting the day I can advice ubuntu to people who have
the same laptop as mine, and still nobody cares. Next year I will have
to return this laptop to university, and I'll perhaps buy a different
tablet. With different problems. And I've never seen ubuntu working out
of the box there - even though there always was a well-known and
signaled to developers way to make it work.

I've seen things stopping working, nobody cared in the world. For
example, my sd card reader worked in edgy and will never work in any
future ubuntu release. I opened a bug *during feisty beta* - it used to
work in some feisty alpha but don't know which one, then it was marked
as duplicate of another bug, which after months was fixed and was not a
dupe of mine, I then had to reopen a new bug, and *nobody cared
anymore*. Don't bull*hit on me. The problem I am pointing out is real.
There is a regression from previous releases and nobody cares, because
few users have it. But that's a regression. Ok, few users have it
because the vaste majority of tablet users don't even consider the crazy
idea of running that hacky linux on it. Accept this and if and when
ubuntu will work on tablets really out of the box, you'll see how many
users are affected by such regressions.

I've followed bug reports, provided requested information, tried to
debug problems, in some rare case even provided the fix personally.

In the past, I uploaded a couple of fixed debs, asked for UVFEs when
necessary, and even obtained those. 

It takes lots of time, especially for one who does it seldomly. You may
say that people should move *before freeze*. I personally  try to wait
for developers to ack fixes and set them up for release. This often does
*not* happen before freeze, so users typically end up not only having to
learn how to prepare the new changelog, how to properly choose new
version, how to prepare a debdiff and sign the changes, but also, since
freeze time is passed, they have to learn UVFEs or other freeze
</personal story>

So I stop testing, get out of my status of half man/half developer and
get back being an user. If next LTS is broken for my laptop, I'll simply
fix it locally, as I always did from the age of debian potato.

And if you don't care at all loosing me as a tester, I can understand
you :) Just delete this e-mail and live happier.

A possible idea to improve the situation is to have a "regression" tag,
and to mark "high priority" all regressions. Say what you want, but this
is *exactly* the behaviour that one would expect from any software
distributor: things works, you break it, I tell you as soon as I
discover it, you fix it as soon as possible because the bug is in the
change you just made, so your change has to be fixed. If you let the
regression there for three years, you'll have hysterical raisins when
you put your hands back on that code. 


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