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Thank you [was: [Niko Tyni] Bits from the Technical Committee]


Having read this report, I wanted to send a warm "thank you" to all
current and past members of the technical committee for their work on
those ... uh... "delicate" issues. It seems we still have a lot of
trouble finding our ways in complex technical issues.

Specifically, I feel that our technical competence is often inversly
proportional to our social competence, which is detrimental to the
technical competence of the project as a whole.

I am therefore grateful that we have a committee where such issues can
be resolved and really glad someone is doing the hard work of dealing
with those issues.

You're doing great, thanks again for the hard work.

Modern man has a kind of poverty of the spirit which stands
in great contrast to his remarkable scientific and technological
achievements. We've learned to walk in outer space and yet we
haven't learned to walk to earth as brothers and sisters.
                        - Martin Luther King, Jr.

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While there's going to be a Technical Committee BOF at DebConf again this
year, we'd like to use that time for discussion. So here's a third yearly
recap as a "Bits" email, possibly establishing a tradition.

We won't cover what the TC is here. It's defined in quite some detail in
our constitution and there is also a useful page on www.debian.org:


TC membership has a term limit, which means that members of the
committee rotate regularly. The algorithm for determining when those
rotations happen is rather complicated (see Constitution item 6.2.7), so
there's always a chance that we might get this wrong.

On 31st December 2021 the terms of Margarita Manterola and David Bremner
reached their limits. We would like to wholeheartedly thank Marga and
David for all their work on the committee.

In January 2022 we welcomed two new team members: Matthew Vernon and
Helmut Grohne. Thank you both very much for agreeing to be part of
the committee.

This is our current roster and expected term limits assuming nobody

 * Sean Whitton <spwhitton> (chair) - until Dec 2024
 * Niko Tyni <ntyni> - until Dec 2022
 * Gunnar Wolf <gwolf> - until Dec 2022
 * Simon McVittie <smcv> - until Dec 2023
 * Elana Hashman <ehashman> - until Dec 2024
 * Christoph Berg <myon> - until Dec 2025
 * Matthew Vernon <matthew> - until Dec 2026
 * Helmut Grohne <helmutg> - until Dec 2026

The chair of the committee is elected by the current members. There's a
tradition, not constitutionally-mandated, of resigning and calling for
votes on a new chair whenever the roster changes. This allows all
current members to express their opinion on the matter.

Previous members of the TC are listed here:

What we've done since last year

Decisions made

#994275  Reverting breaking changes in debianutils

This was about deprecating which(1) and tempfile(1) in the debianutils
package. The maintainer was handling their deprecation / transition
away from debianutils in a way that others considered too intrusive.
We overruled the maintainer for the most part, except for using
alternatives as a transition mechanism.

#994388  More specific advice regarding merged-/usr and implications of #978636

This was a follow-up on our earlier ruling about merged-usr, which said
that "Debian 'bookworm' should support only the merged-usr root filesystem
layout, dropping support for the non-merged-usr layout". Prompted
by some maintainers dropping non-merged-usr support right after the
bullseye release, we issued advice about how keeping upgrade paths
working still requires non-merged-usr support during the full bookworm
development cycle.

This spring, half a year later, we were notified that dpkg had started
issuing a warning during upgrades about merged-usr systems being
unsupported from their point of view. This created a fair amount of
confusion and escalated long-standing disagreements between developers
on the state of dpkg support for merged-usr and the need for improving
it. The warning was eventually removed, but it is still unclear if and
how the underlying issues will be resolved for the bookworm release.

#1003653  Revision of removal of rename.ul from package util-linux

Here we were requested to reinstate the util-linux 'rename' program,
which is installed on some other Linux distributions as /usr/bin/rename
but on Debian and its derivatives as /usr/bin/rename.ul because of
a long-standing name conflict with another implementation that got
there first. The util-linux maintainer had dropped the binary before
the bullseye release. We overruled the maintainer as requested.

#1007717  Native source package format with non-native version

A mass bug filing about moving away from 1.0 dpkg source formats triggered
this issue, where we were requested to offer advice about their continued
usage. There seems to be some tension between "git-first" workflow
requirements, and reducing complexity / improving uniformness of source
packages in the Debian archive.

We recommended that the 3.0 (native) source format should accommodate
such requirements a bit better, and that the 1.0 source format with a
diff.gz should be phased out where its features not specifically required.

Administrative issues

#1003737  Call for votes on TC membership of Helmut Grohne

#1003738  Call for votes on TC membership of Matthew Vernon

#1004611  Resignation & call for votes to elect the Chair

General Resolution: Change the resolution process

While we didn't work on this GR as a committee, it's worth mentioning
here as it changed the voting process both for GRs and the Technical
Committee resolutions, particularly the rules about vote timing.


We recently realized that we have stopped sending announcements of TC
decisions to the debian-devel-announce mailing list a few years ago.
We are currently contemplating whether we should re-adopt this practice,
or some variant of it. We'd welcome input from developers on this matter.

Happy hacking,
Niko Tyni   ntyni@debian.org  (on behalf of the committee)

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