future of the Ubuntu Packaging Guide

Jordan Mantha mantha at ubuntu.com
Fri Sep 14 16:58:41 BST 2007

On 9/14/07, Reinhard Tartler <siretart at ubuntu.com> wrote:
> Daniel Holbach <daniel.holbach at ubuntu.com> writes:
> > It's more complicated to write things in docbook and everybody of us
> > knows how to use a Wiki. We have Wiki notifications of changes we want
> > to stay on top on and it's just more natural to work with it.
> >
> > [...]
> >
> > I personally feel that the wiki is a much better place, also more
> > discoverable, especially given the fact that we have so many document on
> > it already. Stuff regarding packaging, reviewing, merging, packaging
> > pitfalls and so on.
> My fear with having that piece of documentation in a wiki is that we
> won't be able to deal with people asking for comments/clarification or
> just discussing things about certain parts. This means that there would
> be absolutely no moderation at all, and lots of people will scrawl their
> personal opinions directly in the Guide.
> The only way of holding the quality of the Guides is by paying attention
> to Wiki notifications. Perhaps its just me, but I personally tend to
> ignore these notifications. If we have nobody to actively watch for
> changes contributors have done, moderate, correct and discuss them with
> them, I forsee the quality of the guide will decrease. If there was a
> group which would do that, it would work. However, my experience of the
> available manpower among us MOTUs tought me something else in the past
> :(

Normally I'd agree with you on this point Reinhard. That was one of
the things I looked at when I started the packaging guide. However,
there are a couple things to think about though:

1.  The Packaging Guide is the only developer documentation not on the
wiki. We have all our process documentation, policies, release
schedule, etc. on the wiki. If quality and vandalism were a problem
then I be more worried about pages like UbuntuDevelopment,
StableReleaseUpdates, and FreezeExceptionProcess. But so far I haven't
seen any complaints.

2. We don't have a lot of MOTU manpower, and even less MOTU manpower
willing to work on a docbook project. I think I've only gotten
significant contributions from 3 people since the packaging guide was
started almost 2 years ago. Putting the packaging guide on the wiki
lets all Ubuntu Developers make changes as the need arises. On thing
that's disappointed me some over the time I looked after the packaging
guide was how little the Core Devs knew or cared about it. This may
have been my fault, but I can't help but think making it more of a
community project and having an easy place for busy MOTUs and Core
Devs to fix typos or replace overly complicated instructions with
easier ones would make the packaging guide better quality.

I have to say, I'm still riding the fence a little bit on this. I
still haven't figured out how to exactly handle the licensing (current
license is GPL, not sure if we can keep that when it's moved to wiki)
or how to structure the wiki pages so that such a large doc is still
readable. I'm also a little unsure what to do with all the pages
around the net that link to the online version at doc.ubuntu.com .

> I think we can agree to disagree here. May I propose to have a vote in
> launchpad for that?

I'd personally rather see a vote at a MOTU meeting as I find the polls
to be a bit sterile since you don't get to discuss anything before
hand. On the other hand it doesn't seem like the MOTU meetings are all
that well attended these days so perhaps it's not very representative.

Last thing, I simply no longer have enough time to lead/write/maintain
the Packaging Guide. My goal with moving it over to the wiki was to
"give it back" to the developer community. If you guys want to move it
to a bzr branch and keep it docbook, I'll help you do that (if you
need any). If you want to move it to the wiki, I'll help with that as
well. Please just take ownership of this doc as *your* documentation
and improve it so that it benefits everybody.


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