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

Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho <gaia@iki.fi> writes:

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

I _do_ have a problem with the attitude of some Debian packagers, but
I try not to let it become the focus of the discussion.  It is the
Debian process which is the real problem.

> From your writings I gather that the swearing is of the nature "Damn those
> Debian developer go and mangle my code *again*!". 

It more goes like, "Someone writes that someone else had a problem
when using Emacs for Japanese text, and that this patch fixed the
problem.  What the fuck (that's the swearing part) am I supposed to do
with that!"

> If this is so, we can look at it from another angle: "It's good that
> the Debian people care about our program."

It is good that some Japanese guy got his problem solved.  It is _not_
good if this solution breaks things for other Asian users, because it
was really just a setup problem, nor is it good if it _was_ a real
problem, but the patch didn't get applied because of the middelmans

> If that's how you feel, why do you develop *free* software? 

I use it because then I can use other peoples free code in my
project, other people can use my free code in their projects, and
someone else can take over when I drop the project.  They can even
fork it if I do a inadequate job, which is also important.  I rely on
social pressure to avoid forks without a really good reason.

> 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

I keep an open development model in which everybody can easily
participate.  It works very well most of the time, except when some
middlemen interfere, shielding the users from the developers.

> If the queso Debian maintainer had not made the changes, who would have?

Apparently, the Debian maintainer didn't make the changes.  

Since I know nothing of queso, please assume that I'm speaking of some
hypothetical software.

> And still, even when Debian has an enhanced queso, what's stopping others
> to come up with an alternate implementation of the enhancements?

Why should they?  If they need the functionality, downloading the
Debian code is easier than convince the developer that there is a need
to integrate it in the mainline code.

> 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.

Really?  Alone, not as an attachment to a well done bug report or a
well argued feature request?

> > 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.

That requires both work and knowledge.  The motivation to do the work
is less when there is a Debian forked version, and the knowledge is
farther away when the bug reports and patches go through a middleman.

> Or it can be reimplemented by anybody, if necessary.

Extra work that hadn't been necessary had it not been because of the

> > 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.

For the sake of illustrating the damage done by the middlemen, the
tree is a good approximation.

> 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. 

Yes, Ian knew there were a potential problem, and tried to lessen it.
His remidies has just proved just insufficient.  I suggested to extend
the remidies.

> 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.

It is the fault of the Debian model that it acts like filter betweem
the users and the developers.

A report like: "Someone else who used a code not entirely different
from yours had a problem, and this solved it." is a _lot_ less useful
than "I tried to do this with your code, and got that result, while
expecting this result."

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