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

I have a distinct feeling that you have an attitude problem.

On Fri, Jul 02, 1999 at 12:45:35PM +0200, Per Abrahamsen 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.

>From your writings I gather that the swearing is of the nature "Damn those
Debian developer go and mangle my code *again*!".  If this is so, we can
look at it from another angle: "It's good that the Debian people care about
our program."

> Instead, I just curse Debian for sabotaging my work, and delete the
> mail. 

If that's how you feel, why do you develop *free* software?  If you feel you
(and possibly a few others you have personally selected) are the only person
who can touch the code...

We are not sabotaging your work.  We are enhancing it.  And it is your
problem, not ours, if you refuse our help by deleting our messges

> 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.

If the queso Debian maintainer had not made the changes, who would have?
And still, even when Debian has an enhanced queso, what's stopping others
to come up with an alternate implementation of the enhancements?
And the changes made are available to everybody, they are not hidden.

> Patches are almost useless

I know many software developers who prefer well-done patches to the best
feature requests or the best bug reports.

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

Why should the free software community suffer?  The changes are public
and free, anybody can take them and merge them in the upstream package.
Or it can be reimplemented by anybody, if necessary.

> 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. 

Software development does not form a tree, with upstream developers at the top
and users at the bottom.  It forms a graph, a directed cyclic graph.

> 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.

All Debian developers are committed to the Debian Social Contract, which
says among other things,"We Will Give Back to the Free Software Community" -
and we do. We forward bug reports upstream when necessary, and we feed back
our generally applicable changes.  It's not our fault if the upstream
developers ignore us, like you said you do.

> "Oh, you need a 64bit clean version.  Just use Debian."

No.  "Oh, you need a 64bit clean version.  Just convince upstream to adopt
the changes made by Debian, or use Debian, whatever you prefer."

I see my role as the Debian developer as a buffer between the users and the
upstream.  I *want* to see all bug reports made by Debian users so I can
filter out those that have bearing only to my Debian packaging of the
software.  And I also filter out non-bugs. I will forward other reports to
upstream, with a patch if I happened to have the energy to produce one. But
before I do that, I check that the problem is *not* in my changes.

%%% Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho % gaia@iki.fi % http://www.iki.fi/gaia/ %%%

   "... memory leaks are quite acceptable in many applications ..."
    (Bjarne Stroustrup, The Design and Evolution of C++, page 220)

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