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Re: Bug#97671: RFD: Essential packages, /, and /usr

On Sat, Jun 22, 2002 at 09:29:42PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> Sorry, but this doesn't follow. Treating "serious" as a severity or a
> tag is largely immaterial, and the fundamental point of the "serious"
> severity or tag is as an aid to release management.

That may be its intent, but apparently that's not how it's being used a
large proportion of the time.

> >  Branden> The Release Manager can strip the "release-critical" tag off
> >  Branden> of any bug he wants.  This is how things have *always*
> >  Branden> worked in reality.  
> No, it's not. In reality, things have always just been ignored, rather
> than being formally stripped of "release-criticality".

My statement does not assert that the Release Manager has undertaken any
formal procedure.  I'm saying that it is the case that a bug isn't de
facto release critical if the Release Manager doesn't treat it thus.

> And as much as I'd like to be able to say it's better to have -policy be
> "better and more powerful" than the release manager for general democratic
> and consensus principles, I'm sorry, but it simply hasn't worked, and
> I'm yet to see *anyone* even remotely interested in making it work.

I think these are largely orthogonal issues.  Debian Policy is a great
tool, but ill-suited to determining release viability for an individual
package or for the distribution as a whole.

In my opinion and experience, a Debian Policy is better suited to
establishing and enforcing objective criteria that ultimately serve to
improve the quality of Debian packages, and of the distribution as a
whole.  Due to the objectivity and specificity of the criteria it
establishes, it is easy for a large number of people to participate in
the process of crafting Policy in a democratical and consensus-driven

Release management is a highly subjective process -- at least the way
Debian does it -- because we always settle for something significantly
less than perfection (IMO that's a good thing).  The establishment of
subjective criteria for "good enough" is often influenced by external
factors like upstream releases, security issues, Debian's non-package
infrastructure (automated security builds, the mirror network, etc.) and
the date on the calendar.  Due to that, I think it makes more sense for
release management by an individual or a small team of people who work
together well.

The bottom line for me is that it's difficult to achieve consensus on
subjective issues.  I think our approach to the twin nemeses of policy
and release management need to reflect this fact better than they do at

G. Branden Robinson                |
Debian GNU/Linux                   |      If encryption is outlawed, only
branden@debian.org                 |      outlaws will @goH7Ok=<q4fDj]Kz?.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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