New software created for Ubuntu

Sebastien Bacher seb128 at
Tue Jun 1 21:35:59 BST 2010

Le mardi 01 juin 2010 à 19:23 +0100, Iain Lane a écrit :

> It is, but we are talking about Ubuntu (Canonical?) developed software 
> here. I presume that the developers are committed to maintianing their 
> packages in Ubuntu. Maintenance in Debian is not much effort beyond 
> that; receiving and responding to bugs as apporpriate, as well as making 
> sure that the software is well integrated into Debian. This shouldn't 
> require much (if any) work over getting the package working in Ubuntu.

I disagree with that statement, working on Debian requires:

* a Debian installation configured with build system, keys, etc
* keeping this installation up to date
* using that installation enough to be testing your changes
* being subscribed to bugs and reading those
* dealing with those bugs

It might seem trivial but in my experience it's not:

* you need to have a spare machine, or a spare partition and reboot to
use it or a vm. In practice I don't want to reboot while I'm using my
computer and my spare computer are already used to run stable and lts
versions of Ubuntu so I fallback to use a vm there

* Debian unstable has quite some activity and Debian doesn't allow
source uploads, which means you need to keep an unstable box uptodate to
do build and uploads It might be a non issue on fast internet but it
often means over an hour download on a slow dsl line and the latency
issues and slowness created for other downloads during this time impact
on the work you try to do. I tend to use non working times to update my
ubuntu machines and delay Debian update which means I often have the
case where I need several hours download to be able to catch up and do a
Debian build.

* You need to be using Debian enough to be testing your software
correctly. Having several distributions installed in vms is easy but
often people do run only one system and do quick "it runs, it's working"
testing in a vm before uploading.

* Some packages easily get hundred bug reports and most maintainers
don't keep up with bugs on launchpad already, the cost of reading the
bugs in the bts as well is far from be null

* If you want to do proper integration work on Debian you should also be
reading Debian lists to be aware of coming transitions, freeze, etc.
That's also extra informations to deal with and taking efforts.

So while being an Ubuntu maintainer it might seems to be easy to upload
to Debian it requires non trivial efforts. The question is also to know
if you prefer an Ubuntu maintainer doing a Debian build in a vm, a quick
test, upload and looking to the Debian bugs on the bts every few weeks
or do you prefer to let the packages to be maintained by somebody using
Debian most of the time and being wanting to maintain it correctly?


Sebastien Bacher

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