Ubuntu needs a new development model

Aurélien Naldi aurelien.naldi at gmail.com
Thu May 6 08:47:58 UTC 2010

On Thu, May 6, 2010 at 8:38 AM, Ryan Oram <ryan at infinityos.net> wrote:
> The idea of developers being better maintainers is a bit of economic
> theory. My goal is to make the Linux distribution more scalable. If
> developers concentrate on their packages and distributions concentrate
> on the core operating system, this make for a much more efficient
> system there is much less duplicated work. The cost of adding more
> software to a distribution under this system would rapidly approach
> zero, as the distribution would just run a minimal check and do
> minimal testing.
> Ryan


this may sound attractive but it really feels like a half-backed argument.
First, as some already mentioned, most upstream have little or no
knowledge on packaging. More importantly, not all upstream are
ubuntu-centric. The linux world is very wide and while ubuntu is for
sure a very visible distribution, it is not the only one by a long
shot. Furthermore some upstreams are not even linux-centric...

Even if all upstreams were ubuntu-centric, this kind of approach has
pro and cons, you can't just pretend the pro outweight the cons
without a detailed study of the userbase, which is quite large...

Packaging is hard and maintaining a consistent distribution is a huge
task. I for one would love to have newer versions of some software
when I need newest features or specific bug fixes, but throwing new
versions of working stuff all over the distribution would eventually
lead to more broken stuff. PPAs are great for this, it is a clear
improvement for the previous alternatives (stick with whatever is in
stable or run unstable) even if it may be a definitive solution.

I do think a proper way to achieve this may be worth discussion, maybe
by extending PPAs or making it easier to have nightly builds of the
latest upstream version for existing packages, possibly in a
semi-official and integrated way (like offering test channels for some
applications in the application manager) but I'm pretty sure this must
be used with caution: it can cause fragmentation and
combination-dependant bugs that are hard to track (but if done
properly, ubuntu-bug would also be able to collect this kind of

BTW, I think something in this line has already been experimented (and
failed) in the debian world, wasn't it the purpose of Ian Murdock's
"Progeny Componentized Linux"?

Best regards.

Aurélien Naldi

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