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-   -   Improving our response to "duplicate" packages in Debian (http://www.linux-archive.org/debian-development/678167-improving-our-response-duplicate-packages-debian.html)

Axel Beckert 06-28-2012 04:04 PM

Improving our response to "duplicate" packages in Debian
 
Hi Guus!

Guus Sliepen wrote:
> I believe our current way of responding to ITPs for software that duplicates
> the functionality other software that is already in Debian is wrong.
>
> The worst part is that when we say "but we already have N frobnicators in
> Debian, we don't need an N+1th", we imply that the N pre-existing packages are
> OK but that this new package is Very Bad just because it came late to the game.

Thanks for summarizing the problem so nicely without getting
emotional. Now I don't have to send my flame on those "we don't need
an N+1th WM" guys for the wmfs ITP. :-)

> - Don't immediately start complaining to the submitter of the ITP. Just let
> the submitter devote his/her energy to packaging.

Very important and usually the primary fail.

> Some valid reasons to do complain immediately:
>
> - The software is very immature (version 0.1-alpha or something like that).
> - It's a simple script or very small program, and should be merged (either
> upstream or downstream) with another package.
> - It really is an exact duplicate or a fork of another package with almost no
> changes to the original.

Thanks for this list!

> - Research how many similar software packages are there actually in
> Debian, in what shape they are, whether they have active upstream
> and downstream maintainers. Complain about the worst package in
> that selection instead.

Good idea!

> - Go to the root of the problem: find out why upstream thinks they need to
> write their software. Maybe they can be convinced to combine their efforts
> with that of upstreams of similar packages. The ITP submitter should try that
> himself, I think.

I'd expect that this is rather an RFP issue than a ITP issue, except
maybe when someone changes an RFP to an ITP.

But most ITPs come from people who already have reason to use that
software they want to package.

> So, keep the friction low for maintainers who are actually doing something, and
> if you really feel strongly about duplicate software polluting Debian,
> concentrate your efforts at the existing packages.

Thanks again for that very constructive and calm mail on that topic!

Regards, Axel
--
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Jon Dowland 06-28-2012 04:06 PM

Improving our response to "duplicate" packages in Debian
 
I really like these suggestions.


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Ben Finney 06-29-2012 01:24 AM

Improving our response to "duplicate" packages in Debian
 
Guus Sliepen <guus@debian.org> writes:

> So, I propose our code of conduct when responding to "duplicate
> software" ITPs should be:
>
> - Don't immediately start complaining to the submitter of the ITP. Just let
> the submitter devote his/her energy to packaging.

It's part of the job of a (prospective) package maintainer to advocate
for the package. That entails knowing how it compares to rivals for the
same function.

> - Research how many similar software packages are there actually in Debian

So this effort is the responsibility primarily of the person(s)
packaging the proposed work. Requests that they do that research are,
IMO, quite reasonable and should come as early as possible in the
process.

> - Go to the root of the problem: find out why upstream thinks they need to
> write their software.

Again, contacting the upstream is a large part of the job of the package
maintainer.

This code of conduct you lay out is asking others to take responsibility
From the shoulders of the very people who, IMO, should have that
responsibility.

--
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` having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it |
_o__) too?” —Douglas Adams |
Ben Finney

Yaroslav Halchenko 06-29-2012 02:51 AM

Improving our response to "duplicate" packages in Debian
 
> - Research how many similar software packages are there actually in Debian, in
> what shape they are, whether they have active upstream and downstream
> maintainers. Complain about the worst package in that selection instead.

to address Ben's comments and to possibly distill Guus's nice list into
easily available and digestible post, I have placed an extract of
it into http://wiki.debian.org/ITP so we could refine it and possibly
refer to it.

Cheers
--
Yaroslav O. Halchenko
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Dartmouth College, 419 Moore Hall, Hinman Box 6207, Hanover, NH 03755
Phone: +1 (603) 646-9834 Fax: +1 (603) 646-1419
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Bart Martens 06-29-2012 05:20 AM

Improving our response to "duplicate" packages in Debian
 
On Fri, Jun 29, 2012 at 11:24:44AM +1000, Ben Finney wrote:
> Guus Sliepen <guus@debian.org> writes:
>
> > So, I propose our code of conduct when responding to "duplicate
> > software" ITPs should be:
> >
> > - Don't immediately start complaining to the submitter of the ITP. Just let
> > the submitter devote his/her energy to packaging.
>
> It's part of the job of a (prospective) package maintainer to advocate
> for the package. That entails knowing how it compares to rivals for the
> same function.

It is, in my opinion, OK that an ITP is submitted before the packages already
in Debian are studied. And it is, in my opinion, also OK that anyone compares
the alternatives and comments on the ITP.

>
> > - Research how many similar software packages are there actually in Debian
>
> So this effort is the responsibility primarily of the person(s)
> packaging the proposed work.

I agree with Guus Sliepen on this.

> Requests that they do that research are,
> IMO, quite reasonable and should come as early as possible in the
> process.

I agree with "as early as possible in the process". I think that anyone can do
that research.

>
> > - Go to the root of the problem: find out why upstream thinks they need to
> > write their software.
>
> Again, contacting the upstream is a large part of the job of the package
> maintainer.

If this is part of analyzing why some alternatives exist, then this belongs to
the work that can be done by anyone, see above.

>
> This code of conduct you lay out is asking others to take responsibility
> From the shoulders of the very people who, IMO, should have that
> responsibility.

I think that what Guus Sliepen wrote is quite reasonable and good for Debian.
An ITP is, in my opinion, just an "intent to package", and thereby only an
intent to take responsibility on the maintenance of the mentioned package.
Anyone can do the effort to find good reasons to object against the ITP, and
that is OK, in my opinion.

Regards,

Bart Martens


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Bart Martens 06-29-2012 05:28 AM

Improving our response to "duplicate" packages in Debian
 
On Thu, Jun 28, 2012 at 10:51:53PM -0400, Yaroslav Halchenko wrote:
> > - Research how many similar software packages are there actually in Debian, in
> > what shape they are, whether they have active upstream and downstream
> > maintainers. Complain about the worst package in that selection instead.
>
> to address Ben's comments and to possibly distill Guus's nice list into
> easily available and digestible post, I have placed an extract of
> it into http://wiki.debian.org/ITP so we could refine it and possibly
> refer to it.

I'm not convinced that the recent additions to the wiki page reflect consensus
in this debate. But I appreciate your attempt to summarize this debate on that
wiki page. Maybe we should revert the recent changes on that wiki page until
there is a more explicit consensus in this debate. My impression is that
consensus is growing towards what Guus wrote. But this impression may be
colored by the fact that I happen to agree with what Guus wrote.

Regards,

Bart Martens


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Holger Levsen 06-29-2012 06:55 AM

Improving our response to "duplicate" packages in Debian
 
On Donnerstag, 28. Juni 2012, Ben Finney wrote:
> It's part of the job of a (prospective) package maintainer to advocate
> for the package.

what???

if thats true, I don't want any of my package maintainance jobs. can you
please fire me?


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Josselin Mouette 06-29-2012 07:24 AM

Improving our response to "duplicate" packages in Debian
 
Le jeudi 28 juin 2012 * 16:42 +0200, Guus Sliepen a écrit :
> - Don't immediately start complaining to the submitter of the ITP. Just let
> the submitter devote his/her energy to packaging.

I don’t think it is worthwile to let people devote their energy to
packaging pet applications that will disappear in 2 years time when they
find another one.

We really need to find better ways to involve new users in core teams,
and that means removing from our collective consciousness the idea that
you come in Debian to package your new favorite piece of software.

--
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Peter Samuelson 06-29-2012 08:10 AM

Improving our response to "duplicate" packages in Debian
 
[Holger Levsen]
> if thats true, I don't want any of my package maintainance jobs. can
> you please fire me?

You've been around awhile. If that is true, you should know how to RFA
or orphan packages and/or retire from the Project. You should know by
now that it isn't up to others to "fire" you.


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Jon Dowland 06-29-2012 08:22 AM

Improving our response to "duplicate" packages in Debian
 
On Fri, Jun 29, 2012 at 05:28:45AM +0000, Bart Martens wrote:
> I'm not convinced that the recent additions to the wiki page reflect consensus
> in this debate. But I appreciate your attempt to summarize this debate on that
> wiki page. Maybe we should revert the recent changes on that wiki page until
> there is a more explicit consensus in this debate. My impression is that
> consensus is growing towards what Guus wrote. But this impression may be
> colored by the fact that I happen to agree with what Guus wrote.

Rather than revert, I'd suggest summarizing the positions where there isn't
consensus.


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