How to not collaborate with Debian (and upstream)

Steve Langasek steve.langasek at
Thu Aug 28 02:41:24 BST 2008

On Thu, Aug 28, 2008 at 02:02:05AM +0200, Lucas Nussbaum wrote:
> * You want to fix an upstream bug? Fix it in a way that is
>   completely Debian/Ubuntu-specific (using tools like
>   update-alternatives, for example). That way, upstream won't be able
>   to steal your patch, and users of this software will have to switch
>   to Ubuntu if they want your new feature.

I don't think it's warranted to criticize people for finding OS-specific
solutions for problems in Ubuntu.  We're not here to try to solve all
software problems for all distributions, we're here to make *Ubuntu* the
best OS it can be - and healthy collaboration with upstream is an important
part of that, but it's not the *only* thing.

In the specific case of Ruby Gems, I confess I find it difficult to be too
sympathetic to concerns that the solution isn't reusable, given that Gems
are one of the domain-specific, NIH packaging technologies that have
directly complicated life for distributions who want to package the related
works in their native systems.  I remain of the view that "stop using Gems"
is a great upstream solution, but others seem to disagree. <shrug>

Besides, didn't I hear recently that Red Hat has reinvented
update-alternatives?  So hey, no portability problems there...

That said, having had the details brought to our attention, I do share many
of your concerns about the contents of this upload.  I gather from other
comments Mathiaz made today on IRC that there was some pressure to get at
least a preliminary solution into the archive in time for FeatureFreeze due
to other packages depending on it, which may have played a role here; I hope
that we'll be seeing further uploads to resolve many of these issues between
now and Beta.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                          
slangasek at                                     vorlon at

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