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Re: [gnu.misc.discuss,gnu.emacs.gnus] Free software: Packagers vs Developers

On Friday 2 July 1999, at 12 h 45, the keyboard of Per Abrahamsen 
<abraham@dina.kvl.dk> wrote:

> Not in a useful way.  I hear developers swear about Debian more often
> than about e.g. Red Hat, despite Red Hat being more widespread.

Debian has much more packages (three or four times as much). This can explain. 
Another hypothesis is that RedHat developers have smaller egos, they are just 
employees of a company, after all.

> > Among all the packages I maintain, the only one which is really
> > decoupled from upstream is queso, because the upstream maintainer do
> > not reply to any mail, even containing patches.
> Neither do I.  I have no idea what to do with a bug report or patch
> comming from a middleman, who neither have the same direct experience
> of the problem as the user, nor the same knowledge of the code as the
> developer.  

That's violently insulting. You mean that someone who took the time to study a 
package, to find the best way to package it, who received all the bug reports 
(and who has to deal with them, they are public and filled under his name), 
who knows about software development cannot make better reports than any 
ordinary user?

Adam di Carlo tried, on that same mailing list, to remind Debian developers to 
be nice with upstream authors, since they are at the origin of free software, 
after all. His message was not necessary for most authors: I maintain many 
packages and almost all the upstream authors are nice guys: they say "thank 
you" wehn I suggest to package their work, they say "thank you" when receiving 
patches or bug reports, they integrate patches or explain why if they don't, 
etc. Of course, since they are mere humans, they sometimes sleep, go to 
vacation or simply get annoyed, but they don't feel outraged by the idea of 
someone modifying/studying their code.

To summary: you're an exception. Most free software authors practice what they 
preach and they let other people do what they want with the free software.

> that he is willing to explain everything again, figure out what code
> he has received from Debian,

No need to do so. Everything is public <http://www.debian.org/distrib/packages>

> to my code or the Debian mangling, 

Yes, people who modify your Sacred Code are mangling it. Please use more 
neutral terms, if we want to discuss in an useful way.

> > That's why the queso package of Debian is 64-bits clean, unlike the
> > upstream tarball, works with rejecting routes, unlike the upstream
> > tarball, etc.
> Maybe if there hadn't been a Debian package with all these attributes,
> the _real_ queso would do all this.  Benefitting _everybody_, not just
> Debian users.

This is becoming really annoying. As I said, everything we do is public. 
Anyone can retrieve the "Debian patches" by anonymous FTP and apply them to 
the upstream source or to a RedHat/FreeBSD/Solaris/Whatever package.

Do you know this specific package and its author? (BTW, my opinion is that he 
is not a maniac refusing any help from Debian as a matter of principle, he 
simply has other things to do).

> Patches are almost useless, 

As a developer myself (note that I separate my activity as a Debian packager 
and as a developer, they are different), I disagree. Reading source code from 
many free software seem to indicate that many developers like to integrate 

> I prefer ethics and social conventions to rigid rules.  See for example
>         <URL: http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/homesteading/>

Sorry, but I don't read anything written by someone who is a National Rifle 
Association's instructor.

> Sure, all the users of a specific distribution will appreciate the
> enhancements.  It is the free software community as a whole who
> suffers. 

Why? If they are really improvments, they can adopt them, too. If they don't 
think they are useful, they lose nothing.
> > No. This would suppress the whole idea of a distribution.
> Then the whole idea of a distribution sucks.  

Could it be the real problem? Not a specific problem with a specific Debian 
maintainer, Manoj, who did a specific choice when packaging Gnus? I have the 
feeling that nothing Debian can do will please you, because you reject the 
whole idea of a distribution, anyway.

> what kind of option the above is.  User options are such thing as
> enabling auto fill mode or font lock in Emacs.

OK, I see the point, but it is not an issue here. Noone shipped a Debian 
package which such options changed?

> You add value, but at the wrong place.  You add it in the middle, thus
> only reaching a branch of the tree, instead of the top, where you
> would reach the entire tree.  And by adding the value in the middle,
> you make it less likely that the value will reach the top.  The users
> in your branch won't see the need.
> "Oh, you need a 64bit clean version.  Just use Debian."

"Oh, you need a 64bit clean version. Just ask the maintainer of your current distribution to use Debian patches. Or ask the upstream author to integrate them - or equivalent. These patches are free." (BTW, for queso, I didn't wrote them, someone send me the patches :-)

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