New software created for Ubuntu

Raphael Hertzog hertzog at
Wed Jun 9 13:47:59 BST 2010

On Wed, 09 Jun 2010, Matt Zimmerman wrote:
> On Wed, Jun 09, 2010 at 12:54:31PM +0200, Raphael Hertzog wrote:
> > 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.
> Can you be a bit more specific here?  Why is this the critical difference in
> your opinion?

They don't have the required knowledge and they are not affiliated to any
distribution. I'm sorry I can't be much more specific.

> > 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.
> I agree that it is better to avoid it, but I think a better mechanism for
> this is to agree on policy.  Package naming, for example, should be done
> consistently in both projects, and in general, it is.  Where there are
> exceptions, we should understand why and see if we can avoid similar
> problems in the future.

Check this bug, it's the one that triggered my suggestion:

It's not (yet) codified by policy but it's widely accepted that circular
dependencies are to be avoided. The solution involves moving files around
and renaming a package because the name of the package was based on the
presence of some specific file in that package.

> "If you have questions about the material on this page, or have an issue
> regarding collaboration between Debian and Ubuntu, please contact
> debian at"

Who is reading emails sent there?

> > 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).
> This doesn't seem like a problem to me.  It's important that someone in
> Debian take an interest in the software; otherwise it will be perceived as
> Ubuntu polluting Debian with useless orphaned packages.

If you are writing those software, I suppose you don't consider them
"useless". Also we were not speaking of orphaning them but of handing over
maintainership ASAP.

> > 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.
> I don't think that Debian developers in general would appreciate "fire and
> forget" uploads of packages which are de facto orphaned.  Filing an RFP or
> RFA, without an upload, sounds more reasonable.  Steve Langasek said that
> this has been proposed as a general practice.

RFP = without an upload
RFA = the packages is already in the archive and you want someone to take
over but you plan to continue maintaining it until then

So I was only cautioning the proposed general practice (IIRC Steve only
mentioned RFA in his mail) which I find a good idea.

Steve can you confirm that this is what was suggested during UDS?

> at that time, if someone purported to be a package maintainer but did not
> run Debian unstable (or used a chroot) they were ridiculed.  Debian
> developers said it was impossible to do a good job of package maintenance
> without running sid, and there is some validity to that view.

Technologies evolved over time, nowadays it's easier to juggle with
multiple distributions thanks to virtual machines and to the more powerful
computers that we have.

I agree that it's best to run Debian sid to be the best packager but we
have plenty of developers who do not and which are still doing a good job.

And someone running the latest Ubuntu release is using something closer to
sid than someone running the stable Debian release so... :-)

> I would not want to see Ubuntu developers subjected to this, nor can they
> be expected to do their work twice.

Packaging it for Debian means packaging it for Ubuntu too. So it's not
twice the work (but it's still a bit more work).

Raphaël Hertzog

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