An alarming trend (no it's not flaimbait.)
First, i'd like to apologise to the developers that witnessed me "spazzing"(as one person described it) over the current state of debian and it's stability/buggyness.
Ok, as a one-time debian tier-1 mirror server admin, and a 4 year user of debian i'd like to make an observation that I recently went off in #debian-devel over.
For some time now there has been an increasing trend in people that I know who use debian. It is the view that debian is becoming increasingly "old"/outdated, and that developers either a: dont' have the time to properly maintain packages, or just don't care. Which the case is here I don't know. I'm not intimate with a lot of developers. However, this has been the same view that has been slowly dawning over me for a while now.
I see an increasing trend of two critical problems in the way debian operates. #1 package age. Let me talk about this one first. There has been a relatively (year or two) explosion in the package count. As this package count has gone up, packages that I have used for years and that used to work well have falen into a sad state or disrepair. I'll use CDRToaster as an example here.
As debian "caught up" on versions, CDRToaster became increasingly buggy. The last modification that I saw to it over a year ago was to let it support > 8x CDR drives. I personaly took the time to patch it and send out a patch. I never saw it in debian until the upstream included it approximatly 2 motnhs later. This is too long of a timeframe for a simple patch to take to "fix" something. Now this was a feature enhancement and was easy to accept that it took a bit to get back into debian.
The latest bug that has irked me to no end is the fact that cdrtoaster has not worked with creating data tracks with a graft on the fly for an unknown period of time. It's a simple fix really. Just add the option -graft-points to the mkisofs command. Well, here is the buglist of cdrtoaster....
* #41009: cdrtoaster: cdrtoaster(1) manpage missing
Package: cdrtoaster; Reported by: Roland Rosenfeld <firstname.lastname@example.org>; 2 years and 173 days old.
* #75204: cdrtoaster uses xterm
Package: cdrtoaster; Reported by: Normal User <email@example.com>; 1 year and 68 days old.
* #78892: unnecessary test for writeable CD-R device
Package: cdrtoaster; Reported by: Fred Gray <firstname.lastname@example.org>; 1 year and 21 days old.
Note the age of all of these bugs. Over a year old each. Now the reason for this aparantly is that CDRToaster hasn't been updated on the homepage since Jan 2001 at ver 1.12. Obviously this package is DEAD. 8-P I'm sad to see it go as I am on many usefull programs such as this one.
However, that leaves a problem. I've been told by several developers that "it's an upstream problem. send them a patch and when they include it we will update". Wel, that argument doesn't work in increasingly common cases like this. At this point, it is now (IMHO) the debian packagers problem. If they are unwilling or unable to fix it, then the package should be marked as "BAD" or "dead-upstream" as a warning to the user that they should pick a different utility like this one to use.
What I see happening is this. The package count has increased proportionatly to the ammount of bugs per package. This is giving debian a bad name. This is driving users away. Eventualy if this continues, debian WILL die or be a nice distribution only diehard fans of it's ideals will use.
Now a little history for you to understand my view of why this prevaling attitude is annoying to say the least, and has me up in arms over it so to speak. When I signed on to distribute debian, it was rock solid. Packages were only marginaly out of date. People loved it. Users loved it. Debian people trash talked redhat daily over it's bugs.(not all debian folk, just the more vocal and publicly seen ones). I have slowly stoped recomending it as the number of people that tried it because of me has shifted from mostly "nice distro. thanks" to "this is buggy, and out of date. thanks a lot. >:( ".
Ok, this has gotten long enough. I'm proposing as a user that you (debian et al) find a way to somehow warn the user that this package is dead upstream and that bugs aren't likely to get fixed if the maintainer is unwilling/able to fix it. I am also proposing that it be required of a maintainer that they have at least a rudimentary ability to fix minor bugs like this.
It is my opinion that if you are putting your name to somethign that you are providing for download, you are implying that you have accepted responsibility for the quality of the software.
If this is not the case, then debian needs to stop labeling itself as a "distro" in the users eyes, and clearly label itself as a system of packaging volunteers that have NO responsibility for software bugs at all, and ONLY responsible and track bugs that come from being packaged.
Ok, enough of this for tonight. I will now let you all discuss this amongst yourselves since I am not a developer. Should the situation arise that a: I have more free time, and b: that debian either accepts responsibility for packages, or alternativly modifies it's public image to one of being a packager only and keeps up with upstream stuff, then at that point i'd be interested in joining the team to make debian better.
I would appreciate a CC: to email@example.com for any emails sent back tot he list directly. For I am not on the debian-devel mailing list.:)
A VERY concerned Debian end user.
Brian Wolfe <firstname.lastname@example.org>
TerraBox.com Fingerprint: 2849 5090 D4E0 2A6C C648 A750 52F8 8504 67DB 205C