New software created for Ubuntu

Raphael Hertzog hertzog at
Wed Jun 9 11:54:31 BST 2010

On Wed, 09 Jun 2010, Matt Zimmerman wrote:
> > I was speaking of the case where Ubuntu/Canonical developers are the
> > upstream developers. I guess upstream maintenance is far more work than
> > simple package maintenance and maintaining the package in Debian is not
> > much more work.
> If you replace "Ubuntu/Canonical" with "Mozilla" or "Linux kernel" or
> "", would you say the same thing?  Why or why not?

No, because they are not building a Linux distribution.

> > Not pushing it to Debian means that you miss the feedback of the Debian
> > users/developers and you will have additionnal workload as upstream later
> > on when someone packages it in Debian anyway.
> I don't think we currently suffer from a shortage of feedback (quite the
> opposite!), though it would be good to have Debian better represented.  I
> don't see the additional workload you referred to, though.

As you know Debian is more picky on quality of the packaging and it
happens that Debian developers are changing the packaging that Ubuntu
has already done. Many of those quality checks come from Debian
contributors that are monitoring the Debian archive and regularly
reporting bugs. Fixing those sometimes involve changing the packaging
in important ways and thus introducing a migration (package rename for
example) for Ubuntu if you have already published the existing packages in
a stable release.

It doesn't happen often, but it's still better when we can avoid it.

> > And it happened a few times now that when this happens the people on the
> > Ubuntu side are not very responsive. It sucks because the Debian and
> > Ubuntu packages will be out of sync, it sucks because good package
> > maintainers like to have the blessing/advice of the upstream authors for
> > some changes. :|
> As an upstream, we should always strive to be responsive to package
> maintainers, and where that isn't happening, it should be discussed openly
> (before it escalates to finger-pointing) so that we can understand the
> problem and solve it.

So what's the proper procedure to follow when a Debian developer is unable
to get an answer from the person/team that wrote the software for Ubuntu?

> > We had that as part of the Utnubu team at some point. It was really not
> > used and it's not that easy to find maintainers for software that are not
> > yet known because you just started writing them...
> If no Debian developer is interested in maintaining the software, then it
> won't be maintained in Debian.  Ubuntu can't change that reality.  If the
> software is just not that interesting to Debian, then it probably isn't
> worth packaging.  If it is interesting, then someone will package it
> eventually.

My take is that most software that Ubuntu/Canonical has written is
interesting to Debian but that it takes time for someone to step up
maintaining it in Debian (usually until the software is more widely known
because it has been shown to provide a cool new feature to a recently
released version of Ubuntu).

Thus it would help everybody to package it for Debian right from the
start, get useful feedback from Debian users/contributors and then
mark it as "Request For Adoption" if you don't want to maintain it in the
long term within Debian. You could even advertise those RFA on -devel
to increase the speed at which you'll find new maintainers.

> Why should it matter whether the software originates from Ubuntu or another
> upstream?

A random upstream does not care about Debian more than RedHat and is
usually not involved in packaging.

Raphaël Hertzog

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