Packaging Help

Michael Bienia michael at
Thu Sep 24 13:44:42 BST 2009

On 2009-09-23 20:59:51 +0200, Andreas Heck wrote:
> As someone you just recently tries to contribute packages to Ubuntu I
> think the biggest problem at the moment is that REVU seems to be dead
> during freeze.
> Of course you can't get something in at the moment anyway and there are
> more important tasks at the moment for sure but nevertheless it can take
> away some enthusiasm from prospective contributors and makes the process
> look more bureaucratic than it actually is.

I think that packaging an (unpackaged) software is not the best way to
start contributing to Ubuntu. And therefore don't participate in reviews
on REVU anymore. The reason behind this is that I get the impression
that there are way too many packages that are getting packaged once and
then left without a maintainer and only add to the general burden on

I got contacted by an upstream around two weeks ago after I uploaded a
fix for a FTBFS. He asked me why Ubuntu still ships such an old and
bugged version of his software and would prefer to get it removed from
Ubuntu if an update is not possible. As we don't have someone who is
interested in maintaining that package I opted for the removal. The
package got packaged 3 years ago and since then had only two further
uploads fixing a FTBFS and at least 8 new upstream releases since then.

It doesn't help Ubuntu if we ship old versions of software to our users.
It may sound harsh but it's better to not package a software if we don't
have the resources to maintain it (i.e. a person looking after that
package) than package it and let it rot after that. At least it would be
more honest.

I'm not against new packages at all if they are maintained properly. I
do reviews now and then but only for MOTUs as can assume that they know
what it takes to maintain a package and package only software that is
really needed and not because they found an unpackaged application on
the web.

I'd prefer if new contributors start with helping on existing packages.
This helps Ubuntu more and IMHO it's an easier approach as one needs to
concentrate on only one aspect of packaging (e.g. adding missing
build-dependencies, applying patches, etc.) instead of doing it all at
once which might be overwhelming.
And I also hope that new people understand that way that maintaining a
package is not that easy and don't package new software that lightly.

I don't mean that we should make it hard for people to get new packages
in (it still should be easy), but we also shouldn't accept every package
that appears on our doorstep. We should only let those in where we can
assume that they are being maintained afterwards.
Perhaps PPAs are a good ground to let people prove that they are really
interested in maintaining a new package before we let the package into


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