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Re: An alarming trend (no it's not flaimbait.)

On Wed, 26 Dec 2001, ahzz-debate@vmail.terrabox.com wrote:
> 	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 	increasingly "old"/outdated, and that developers either a: dont'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.

Does this comment apply to unstable, or just to stable?  Stable being
out-of-date is a very different problem than unstable being out-of-date...

> 	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

This is only a valid excuse when upstream is active. I have often said
something like that re. fetchmail (although it is more like: this is
upstream's ground. If upstream agrees to do it, I will follow him. Bug

On the other hand, if a Debian developer is NOT willing to become upstream
for a package that is being badly maintained upstream, he should orphan that
package, and maybe even request its removal from the archive if the package
state is really bad.

> 	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

Some would even say the package should have a bug filled, severity important
(or higher): "WARNING: package not being maintained actively".  Which should
be closed by the maintainer, when he comes back from lala-land, or when it
is handled over to someone else.

<wears QA hat>Please file such a bug against that CD recoding package. If
the maintainer complains that he is 'actively maintaining' it, tell him to
stop lying to himself and admit he either needs to become upstream and fix
all bugs, or drop the package (and keep the bug open)</wears QA hat>

> 	a warning to the user that they should pick a different utility like
> 	this one to use.

This is actually a good idea. One can use the BTS to file bugs (I suggest
bug severity to be either "important", or if the package is too sorry a
state, "grave" -- but do be very sure of what you're doing if you file a
"grave" bug).

However, do expect to be yelled at if you misfile any such bugs, a lot of
maintainers will not like that at all. You have been warned.

> 	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

Right now, using the BTS properly you could do suck marking of packages
without any extra tools.  I expect such packages to be dropped at release
time if they are really unmaintained.

> 	be required of a maintainer that they have at least a rudimentary
> 	ability to fix minor bugs like this.

I believe most maintainers already take that view. Those who don't, really
should know better.

> 	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. 

Indeed.  I would like to point out, however, that this applies to the
package level too.  If someone maintains a package, and uploads it to Debian,
he better be ready to stand behind the quality of his work. Otherwise, he
should either improve that packaging fast, or get lost (and please orphan
his packages properly while at it). 

'Thank you for all the fishes, do come back when you have the proper skill
level and/or amount of spare time to actually maintain your Debian packages'
may be a harsh thing to say; it looks elitist, even.  But it is the best
thing to do from a QA (and therefore, an user's) point of view, IMHO.  Heck,
one does not even need to leave the project, just take an extended vacation
later, as many have done in the history of the project.

> 	system of packaging volunteers that have NO responsibility for

I (along with many others) will fight using deadly weaponry to avoid such an
fate.  We need responsible maintainers in Debian, not packagers that go
their merry way leaving the distro littered with outdated and often broken

  "One disk to rule them all, One disk to find them. One disk to bring
  them all and in the darkness grind them. In the Land of Redmond
  where the shadows lie." -- The Silicon Valley Tarot
  Henrique Holschuh

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