Packaging Help

Jordan Mantha laserjock at
Mon Sep 21 19:30:25 BST 2009

On Mon, Sep 21, 2009 at 12:49 PM, Daniel Holbach
<daniel.holbach at> wrote:
> Thanks for your feedback.
> Am Montag, den 21.09.2009, 11:43 -0400 schrieb Scott Kitterman:
>> When I look at I have no doubt that we have not
>> nearly the developer resources to adequately work with people actively
>> working to get software into Ubuntu.  When I look at
>> it is very clear that we have severe problems with our existing packages
>> that are not being addressed due to lack of developers to do/sponsor the
>> work.  I'm sure I don't need to review the sponship queues for you.
> I wasn't suggesting that we bring packages from PPAs into a tip-top
> shape for somebody else instead of what we have on our plates already
> and not suggesting that we actively search for PPAs that contain good
> stuff we'd like to ship.

I'm not sure there's much of a distinction in terms of work and
resources between doing packages reviews on REVU and in PPAs, bottom
line, stuff has to get looked at and the good stuff sponsored. The
temptation will of course be to work with somebody with an
almost-there PPA to get it in "tip-top" shape. That gets us to PPAs
being yet another resource drain. I'm not necessarily saying there
aren't nuggets in PPAs, undoubtedly there are, but I think there isn't
going to be much difference between REVU and PPAs in terms of work.

> Instead I'm trying to find a way to help newcomers that need more
> information and just a bit of help until they become Ubuntu developers
> themselves eventually. It's about finding a way for us to easily give
> people what they need and also to set the right expectations. There must
> be a middle ground for making this work and a way to reach out to people
> who want to make Ubuntu work better.

Do you have any sense of how many of these people *want* to become
Ubuntu developers. My experience is that many of these PPAs are
upstreams/hobbyists who have no intention of becoming Ubuntu
developers. Indeed, many people use PPAs *because* REVU, sponsorship,
SRUs, etc. are seen as overly difficult and bureaucratic to be
involved in.

> I see this as a huge potential and the interest in PPAs shows that
> people want better and more software in Ubuntu and they want to help out
> to make it so.

Again, I would say that most of them want to make *their* software
better, not necessarily Ubuntu. If we can change that I'd be quite
excited, but that's sort of how I see the PPAs being used these days.

>> Ultimately, PPAs are a Launchpad product, not Ubuntu.  I think they are a
>> very useful tool and am glad to have them, but there is no way we can
>> support helping out everyone who tries to use them.
> I personally don't think that the distinction doesn't explain much or
> help much. That people are actively trying to do something for Ubuntu in
> my eyes is the more important point. That they're not knowing how to "do
> it right" or "get it in" is much more the problem we're having and that
> we should at least attempt to fix.

I think what Scott's trying to say is that for a great many of the PPA
users, they are trying to work on top of Ubuntu, not for Ubuntu. For
instance, they may be upstream developers who want to deliver latest
releases without going through the SRU process, or depend on modified
packages. Some are just people testing latest crack without regard to
the kinds of QA we do in Ubuntu. Some want to be able to push out
their latest cool app in alpha/beta stage and don't want to wait for
outdated packages to get through REVU or wait 6 months for it to get
released to the general public.

PPAs are a very cool resource, but I tend to think that they aren't
necessarily a great recruitment tool.

In terms of the actual question, "what does Launchpad do with PPA
support questions?", I think perhaps a bit more user-friendly
documentation going over errors people are likely to see and mistakes
they are likely to make would help a lot. Versioning, .orig.tar.gz,
and dput seem to be the common problems. I think people don't know
what to expect from PPAs so managing expectations would be useful. The
Packaging Guide wiki also has a pretty extensive set of documentation
for the actual packaging.


More information about the ubuntu-devel mailing list