pyjamas (and dependent) packaging: examples of failure of ubuntu packaging and development process

Carlos Ribeiro carribeiro at
Sat Jul 3 18:43:25 BST 2010

Great reply Luke. If you don't mind I'll pick a few passages just to clarify
what I meant, and how I think things should be handled.

On Sat, Jul 3, 2010 at 13:38, Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton <
luke.leighton at> wrote:

>  ... i get that a lot.  trouble is: i drastically tone things down,
> and i _still_ get people saying exactly the same thing.  so, i'm not
> "giving up", but... y'know what?  i'm just going to have to live with
> that, state the facts and my opinion of them, so that people on the
> receiving end have a clear and unambigous idea of the kind of effect
> that they are having on developers...

I understand but still disagree :-) Having your pain felt does not qualify
you to be heard, and also does not guarantee an answer. Thoughtful messages
are a better weapon to get this job done.

> > And people
> > that COULD help solving your issue most probably willl not get involved.
>  deep joy :)  ah - correction: it's not "my" issue.  i am... merely
> the go-between / messenger, the one between "the process", which
> holistically, is failing, and the end-users, who are on the receiving
> end of that process failure.

Sorry, it's clearly not "your" issue, but anyway :-) it's one (serious)
issue that affect some portion of the users. It's very hard to get it 100%
right - whatever you do some portion of the users will find some problem.
I'm not involved in these decisions but (despite of my lack of involvement)
I find them very difficult to question.

> it would be way better to put forward a proposal to help solve the
> > defficiencies you pointed out.
> ok.  yes.  it didn't occur to me to do that, initially: i wanted to
> guage peoples' reactions, first, get a response, see if there's a
> collective "ownership" of responsibility for solving "the issue".

It depends on wheter you want to solve "the issue" of pyjamas being broken
or "the issue" of leaving users of legitimate packages (such as
pyjamas-desktop) in the dust.

in reading this, it's important that you know, carlos, that i read
> what you wrote (even though i am not including it here) and it seems
> eminently sensible... yet is a "patch" on top of an underlying root
> cause: lack of resources.

Yes, this is a big part of the problem. But it's not the only one. It's also
a matter of philosophy - how you should do your work, how to set priorities,
etc. In this case the changes can range from "fine settings" to truly
strategic ones. Debian historically values stability (a little bit too
much); Ubuntu is trying to find a balance to have more innovation.

 so the root cause of the problem is, i believe, that the ubuntu
> repository should never have been a "total" fork of the debian
> repository.

That's a bold assertion; I would like to be able to discuss it seriously but
I can't discuss it at length, as I don't follow Debian that closely to
understand all the implications. So I have to take your word.

 it's really as simple as that.

Luckily :-)

>  what _should_ have happened is that ubuntu became an increasingly
> large number of "replacement" packages, likely maxing out somewhere
> around... 300 to 500.  the naming conventions on .deb packages allows
> for "upgrading" by adding suffixes: this should have been - should be
> - utilised to great effect.

So you have a proposal,  and (in my opinion) it's a very complex one. I
believe you should take the time to refine it and write it in detail. There
are some points which make sense but also some shortcomings - including a
few which were discussed at length over the past 10+ years, and for one
reasons or other were either rejected, or attempted and failed. Overall I
don't see anything that could be adopted without pain or without undesirable
side effects, so there's work to be done.

* the ubuntu "process" is falling apart at the seams due to lack of
> resources.  by riding directly on the back of the debian repository
> and _staying_ there, the hard work done by the debian developers and
> users _directly_ transfers over to the ubuntu system.  if the ubuntu
> "process" gets too far ahead in its "innovation", users can always
> take a step back (see above).

I don't think it's "lack of resources". For me it's a design decision (hint:
Ubuntu is derived from Debian, but is also *more* than a simple Debian
derivative). But there are others who know more than me and (maybe?) they
can voice their opinion here.

* the "innovation" you refer to, carlos, which i believe is actually
> more like "extremely risky experimentation", _has_ to coordinate with
> the debian "stability", to a much greater extent.

Yes, it has some risks. But also it allowed Ubuntu to do some great steps
that other distributions beside Debian took too long to take. In short the
balance is positive.

Carlos Ribeiro
Consultoria em Projetos
mail: carribeiro at
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