Future of MOTU

Brian J Mingus Brian.Mingus at Colorado.EDU
Wed Mar 24 06:36:22 GMT 2010

On Tue, Mar 23, 2010 at 3:32 PM, Benjamin Drung <bdrung at ubuntu.com> wrote:
> I have to admit that the barrier is high to get new packages into Ubuntu
> and that creating new packages is not the best way to start/learn
> packaging.

It seems to be that folks manage to create a package but it's not good
enough. Then a motu or someone looks at it and you basically get a human
being standing in the shoes of lintian telling you to fix insanely nuanced
things which turns people away. I think its a question that we need to
answer with someone's practical experience or statistics: How far away from
ready are these packages? How long would it take a motu to go the final
distance? Apparently there is not an adequate reward system setup for the
motu - they must not feel like adding this software to ubuntu is worth their
time. This is a bug. The REVU system and the whole MOTU concept seems to be
designed to solve this problem, but we forgot that they are human beings..
it does seem worth it to me though to get this software in.

> There is one concern when uploading a new package: Who maintains the
> package afterwards? The (unwritten) rule (?) is that the person that did
> the initial packaging should take care of it. When there is no MOTU
> using the package and the initial packager disappears, then the package
> will probably get outdated and buggy. When the initial packagers get
> their packages into Debian, then they are the maintainers of the
> packages and they are responsible for them. Therefore it's not only a
> philosophy concern and not totally unreasonable.

I think the most natural thing is that it is co-maintained by motu and the
package submitter. Bugs relating to the packaging are handled by motu, bugs
related to the software itself are handled by the developer. I think motu
just has to ask the question, is there someone out there who cares about
this piece of software and is going to make sure it is basically working and
periodically updated and willing to fix bug reports? If so then it should be
a candidate for inclusion in Ubuntu irregardless of Debian status or that
developers ability to create a perfect package, whether that ability be due
to knowledge or lack of investible time.

> > After the package gets into Ubuntu almost all of the work is done for
> > the folks who are experts at porting Ubuntu packages back into Debian.
> How many people working on that task and how many Ubuntu packages needs
> to be ported to Debian? Can we rely on the folks who port Ubuntu
> packages back into Debian or is this more only a wish?

I don't know actually but I have heard that stuff is getting backported.
There are tools that automatically do this. They can automatically figure
out the right dependencies by basically running ldd on the libs and figuring
out the right stuff. So I think this happens already semi-automatically at

> > It should not be the concern of people who write awesome software and
> > just want to make it available in the distribution they actually use.
> I agree that people who write awesome software shouldn't be bothered
> with packaging and all the distribution's processes. In an ideal world
> there would be a packager that work closely with the upstream developer
> and do all the packaging.

Yep! And since this is not a democracy I wonder who at Ubuntu has authorized
the demise of the REVU system? Isn't it part of Canonical's Ubuntu vision
and hasn't at least one paid employee been asked to do it? Wasn't that
person supervised by someone and did they drop the ball? Not to point
fingers I have no idea how those things work - I just think its an
unfortunate thing.


> --
> Benjamin Drung
> Ubuntu Developer (www.ubuntu.com) | Debian Maintainer (www.debian.org)
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