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Re: Time to take a decision [Re: Future of X packages in Debian]

On Fri, Jul 09, 2004 at 08:57:37PM +0200, Fabio Massimo Di Nitto wrote:
> Ok the discussion is going nowhere useful now.
> Daniel, you have expressed your points on the Future of X. Thanks, it was
> very detailed and appreciated.
> Branden, I would like to hear your point of view too. You are also a user
> of your own packages.
> I plan to post mine as soon as i can take 5 minutes break from real life
> and work.
> After that if noone we will add any comment i will prepare a summary and
> post it for review. After the review there will be an official
> announcement to all our users.

XFree86 as an upstream is clearly dead for us.  Organizationally, their
choice of licenses don't leave us much choice.  We can (and have, and do)
communicate fruitfully with some individual members of their commit team,
but the project-to-project tie is pretty much broken.

However, I think any major organizational change in Debian's shipping SI needs to
wait until either:

1) sarge releases; or

2) the Release Management Team tells us to go ahead and switch, if for
example some catastrophe happens ("the freeze is off, and reschedule for
January 2006!"); we should come up with some way of registering our desire
to be contacted in such an event, assuming no announcement to
debian-devel-announce opening the floodgates is made.

I've been in touch with Jim Gettys about the code contamination issue[2]
and he assures me that the specific problems that we[3]'ve pointed out will
be taken care of; I just need to be more of a squeaky wheel about them.  He
also thinks I am too paranoid (my words, not his) about licensing issues,
but that's okay as I was expecting him to say that.  :)

Now, then, as for the meaty, interesting bits:

I foresee three stages in Debian's X future.

Several weeks ago I prepared a "snapshot" of XFree86 CVS as of 2004-02-12
(immediately prior to the XFree86 1.1 relicensing), with files that had
been been relicensed under the X-Oz license terms the previous October
rolled back to their last MIT/X11 versions[1].

Stage #1: We (mostly I) will continue to backport bugfixes and features
from this snapshot of XFree86 4.4.0RC2+(CVS)-(X-Oz) until a harder freeze
is a declared on unstable.  Debian sarge may very well end up with an
XFree86 "4.3.0" that looks much more like XFree86 4.4.0.  With regard to
the ATI drivers, for example, it already does.

Stage #2: We transition to a monolithic X.Org release if one is still
available at the time.  This will look pretty much the same as the XFree86
packages of today, and despite skepticism I have heard from certain
quarters, I don't expect it to pose many challenges in the reorganization
department that wouldn't also be posed by busting the monolithic distro up
into a dozen or more upstream source packages.  At the time we switch to
X.Org, however, I propose dropping two parts of the build:
        1) xprt -- xprt-xprintorg has this well in hand, and there's not
           really any point shipping the current SI's busted version
           anymore; the only people who plan on monolithic releases of the
           SI for the long run are XFree86, and they're inaccessible to us.
        2) xterm -- This is handled as a package with a separate upstream
           in all but name already anyway.  I can't remember the last
           time Debian-the-OS released with anything close to a stock
           XFree86 xterm.  I've been grabbing updated versions from Thomas
           Dickey for years.

Stage #3: As freedesktop.org makes more and more "module" releases and as
packages for these are prepared by Debian X Strike Force folks interested
in them, we can hive off parts of the X.Org package build.  This part would
take as long as it takes; as Daniel Stone has pointed out, there aren't any
specific plans for how certain parts of the tree are going to be
modularized yet, so I don't think it makes sense to pretend the monolithic
tree will be obsolete before it really gets that way.

I expect the monolithic build to die with a whimper, not a bang, and this
proposal attempts to take that into account.  If it does die with a bang,
our plans may need to be re-examined.

[1] http://necrotic.deadbeast.net/xsf/XFree86/xfree86-CVS-pre-4.4.0-RC3-new-license-sanitized
[2] XFree86 1.1-licensed stuff creeping into the X.Org CVS tree
[3] Nathanael Nerode and I

G. Branden Robinson                |      If you don't think for yourself,
Debian GNU/Linux                   |      others will think for you -- to
branden@debian.org                 |      their advantage.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |      -- Harold Gordon

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