Re: [gnu.misc.discuss,gnu.emacs.gnus] Free software: Packagers vs Developers
Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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."