New software created for Ubuntu

Matt Zimmerman mdz at
Tue Jun 22 10:59:57 BST 2010

On Wed, Jun 09, 2010 at 02:47:59PM +0200, Raphael Hertzog wrote:
> On Wed, 09 Jun 2010, Matt Zimmerman wrote:
> > 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.

That particular issue could certainly have been handled better.  If the
upstream developers had responded sooner, I'm sure it could have been
resolved in short order.

Getting this into policy and tools, so that it's checked in Ubuntu as well,
seems like the right thing to do.

> >
> > 
> > "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?

I believe it's Jono Bacon at present.  The intent is that it will always go
to someone who can make the right contacts within the Ubuntu project
depending on the nature of the issue.

> > > 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.

I don't think you've understood me.  I'm saying that I don't think Debian
wants a bunch of unmaintained packages in Debian.  Am I wrong?

If I'm wrong, we can set up a script immediately to automatically upload new
Ubuntu packages to Debian.

> > 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... :-)

That's good to hear.  If Debian developers voice support for Ubuntu
developers doing Debian package maintenance, even though they run Ubuntu as
their primary system, that would probably encourage more people to do 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).

I think we can agree that it is more work, and forget about the exact ratio.

While changes to Debian do flow into Ubuntu, in practice, things are not so

For example, Ubuntu works to strict deadlines, unlike Debian.  Waiting weeks
for Debian's new package queue to be processed is an unacceptable delay for
us.  Therefore, a policy of "new packages always go to Debian" would not be

For similar reasons, it isn't (currently) workable to require that Ubuntu
developers make uploads to Debian for any reason, for the simple reason that
they do not have permission to do so.  Most of them are not Debian
developers, and Debian's new maintainer process is much too cumbersome to be
a prerequisite for Ubuntu development.

The Debian Maintainer designation may help with this: for example, would
Debian be willing to extend Debian Maintainer status to Ubuntu developers in
general, so that they can upload their packages?

 - mdz

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