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

On Wed, 11 Sep 2002, Colin Watson wrote:

> On Wed, Sep 11, 2002 at 06:56:09PM +0200, Tomas Pospisek's Mailing Lists wrote:
> > On Wed, 11 Sep 2002, Colin Watson wrote:
> > > Yep. We have 10000 other packages that (we hope) people are using, and
> > > we shouldn't waste time on things nobody wants to take responsibility
> > > for.
> >
> > On the other side nobody is forcing anybody to care. That's up to the
> > individual. I do respect the work QA is doing but it's a free choice to
> > pick up that responsibility.
> >
> > If one doesn't want to care about packages, then s/he just shouldn't.
> > Forcing people to do without a package because one took the burden to
> > care about it freely but is not willing to carry that burden is not
> > correct. It's a problem that respective person has to solve for
> > him/herself, not for the other people.
> You're basically saying that nobody should try to take responsibility
> for the distribution as a whole, as far as I can tell, and that we
> should all just stick to the little patches we maintain ourselves. I
> think that's completely wrong.

Um. Sorry if you get that impression, that's exactly what I did not want
to say or imply.

I want to say that there's a conflict of interests. One is having most
quality and one having most quantity. Having most quality is very nice and
having most quantity also.

(  To illustrate it. I'm using Debian for two reasons:

   1) If I install a package I'm pretty confident, that it's just going to
      work and have reasonable defaults. Quality.
   2) If I need some sw I'm pretty confident that it's packaged and can
      be easily installed. Quantity.

   If either of those points don't work out, I'm able to fix both of'em.
   It's nice though if both or at least one of them works.

The question is, how can we find a good solution (or a compromize) that
will satisfy (at least partially) both potentially conflicting interests.

What about Joey's indirect suggestion of moving unmaintained packages to a
special section - "unmaintained" or "contrib".

That way the package is available (2) and does not even pretend that it
suffices Debian's quality standards (1).


That's the IMHO important part. Now to the side-dish:

> I have seen plenty of packages that Debian would be better off without,
> because they make users' impression of our clue levels worse.

I agree. However, since you joined me in beating this dead horse, I
disagree that those packages were as a general rule "unmaintained".

What I want to say - I disagree that unmaintained software is generally in
a bad shape. At least not in a shape that would require us to remove it.
The tool that solves part of this problem (at least for "stable")
is, as you've already remarked, the RC-bug mechanizm.

> Also we aren't forcing our users to do without anything. They don't have
> to remove the package at the same time we do. There's archive.debian.org
> full of stuff, random web sites all over the place, the morgue if a
> developer wants to resurrect something, etc. And after all, what's the
> difference between leaving your current working version of a package
> installed and having a version in the Debian archive that's never
> updated? It's equally unsupported either way.

Yes. But why make it harder? Your goal is to improve quality. Can we
achieve it without making it harder for users to install the software the
want/need/want-to-have-a-look-at etc.?

> If there's real demand, somebody will file an RFP bug, ask on a mailing
> list, or whatever, and we'll know about it. It's not the end of the
> world. In the meantime perhaps it will encourage people to look for
> alternatives, and who knows? Maybe they'll even have an active
> maintainer who cares about the package and be better as a result.

Maybe. Maybe not. Leaving the package in unstable is not the end of the
world either. And as Manoy said - maybe if the package is still _in_ the
(unstable) distro it'll make it easier for somebody to fix it and/or to
pick it up.

> > And, btw. and IMHO: there is a lot of software that is "maintained" but
> > of lesser quality than non-maintained software.
> Yes, please stop beating this horse. I said that being unmaintained is a
> good indicator, and I stand by that. I also don't particularly care
> about the distinction between "completely orphaned" and "de facto
> orphaned due to missing-in-action maintainer"; they end up being the
> same thing in the long run anyway.

Completely agree.

> > > I think that it is not anywhere near as important to be able to say
> > > "anything you want you can apt-get install" as to be able to say
> > > "anything you want you can apt-get install and it'll be good".
> >
> > The important thing here being that you __know__ what you get. If you know
> > that you're installing software that is buggy, than that's your choice.
> I don't think the Debian archive has to be the be-all and end-all of all
> the available free software in the world.


> We're here to provide *good* free software.

Um. I'm not very happy with the quality of mailsync, the package I do
maintain. I'm no ueberhacker, but depending on how high the bar, that
means the definition of "good" is, it'd be fit for removal [1]. I'm happy
(and so are other's I'm being told) that mailsync exists at all. Even if
it has some problems that should get fixed.

You might say that I'm exagerating. But (automatically?) removing
packages without just because they do not have an official maintainer,
without considering their quality is IMHO equally exagerated.

> The fact that there are maintained packages which are also buggy needs
> to be fixed too, but is a (somewhat) orthogonal problem.

IMO not. Quality _is_ important. The question is if there are mechanizms
that help to improve without damaging other aspects.

[1] However I'm working on it. There's hope.

         Tomas Pospisek
         SourcePole   -  Linux & Open Source Solutions
         Elestastrasse 18, 7310 Bad Ragaz, Switzerland
         Tel: +41 (81) 330 77 11

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