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Re: Work-needing packages report for Sep 6, 2002

On Mon, 9 Sep 2002, Michael Cardenas wrote:

> I think we should have a process whereby if a package does not get a
> maintainer in a certain amount of time, we remove it from the archive,
> and list them in the wnpp report as "sehcduled for removal on DATE". 
> That way, if anyone actually does use these packages, they will have
> some incentive to maintain them. If not, they can be removed. 

Maintenance is only required when there is something wrong with the package. 
If the orphaned packages in question still work fine, then I don't see why
they should be removed.  OK, so there isn't a DD who cares enough to take
them, but that doesn't mean there aren't a lot of Ordinary Users out there
who like and use the package.

The package will get removed from the stable tree at the first release where
there is an RC bug against it.  Not a perfect solution, but Debian isn't
just for DDs and the other denizens of d-devel, and there are a very large
number of people who use Debian without even necessarily being aware of it's
development method.  We shouldn't (a) Disadvantage them unduly or (b) Force
them to learn the ins and outs of packaging to keep using the software that
is working quite happily for them.

What might be nice is if the Q&A team (in their Copious Free Time) released
new version with some sort of advertising banner after a while of
non-maintainership, stating "this package has been unmaintained for a while;
if you are interested in ensuring the quality of this package into the
future, please consider becoming involved in it's maintenance" with a link
or something describing what to do and what can be done.

But ripping functioning packages out of the archive just because there isn't
a DD who wants to put their name on it?  Nope.  I'm against archive bloat,
but it's counter-productive to rip out things which people might be using.

If there is (for instance) another package which does something equivalent,
then perhaps the maintainer of the equivalent program can adopt the orphaned
one, 'merge' functionality (try and get command line args similar, for
instance, or write some sort of wrapper) and then effectively blot the old
package by Provides and Conflicts.  Then he (as the official maintainer)
could ask that the old package be removed.  Archive bloat averted.  The
tradeoff is more work for maintainers.

This avoids the problem of users, having been quite happy with their system
up until now, suddenly finding that their favourite old clunker of a program
went bye-byes for no decent reason.

Matthew Palmer, Debian Developer
mpalmer@debian.org     http://www.debian.org

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