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Re: Debian concordance

On 6/18/05, Ian Murdock <imurdock@gmail.com> wrote:
> I'm more worried about the future; and I still haven't seen anyone
> address my initial question, which is why Ubuntu is tracking sid on core
> things like libc in the first place. The value you add is around
> the edges with stuff like X.org and GNOME 2.10. I'd like to see you do
> that in a manner that promotes compatibility with sarge, just as we're
> doing at Progeny as we move forward in these same areas. But I certainly
> understand why you want to move forward in these areas.. I do as well.

X.org isn't exactly "around the edges" in my book.  And in any case,
if you think of Ubuntu exclusively as a desktop distro, I don't think
you have it straight; hoary works very nicely as a server platform. 
>From my perspective, Ubuntu adds value mostly on process fronts:
predictable release cycles, a clear distinction between "supported"
and "best effort" (and a systematic team approach to that "support"),
and a commercial support model for people who want that sort of thing.
 Each of these has its down side as well, and Debian works differently
for mostly good reasons; but they have inevitable engineering
consequences, and not just "around the edges" either.

> The core is a completely different issue. Where at the core do you add
> value? Ok, perhaps you can get a bug fix in here, better support for
> an architecture here. But are those things worth breaking compatibility?
> If your changes are important enough, they should be in Debian too.
> If they aren't, they're not as important as compatibility.
> "Debian packages just work" has been a truism for *years*, and it's been
> one of our key technical selling points. I don't want to see that fall
> by the wayside. This thread is a perfect example of what will happen
> if we don't worry about this stuff *now*. I've seen this movie before.

In case you hadn't gleaned it from Matt's timeline, most of Ubuntu's
work on glibc late in the hoary cycle did make it into sarge (or, if
you like, Ubuntu-the-company sponsored some excellent work by some of
Debian's glibc team, which made it under the wire for both releases),
and I for one am very glad that it did.  I really didn't want to be
stuck with Ubuntu #7897 (Debian #300943) for the next three years.

In any case, Ubuntu packages aren't Debian packages any more than
Mandrake packages are Red Hat packages.  If you want binary
compatibility, you need to build a system whose engineering outcome is
binary compatibility, which will look a lot more like the LSB than any
one distro.  The fact that most packages compiled on sid three months
ago will run on both sarge and hoary is no more significant than the
fact that most packages compiled on Red Hat 6.0 ran on both Red Hat
7.0 and Mandrake 7.0.

> If there's ever been or ever will be a perfect time for Debian and
> Ubuntu to sync up, it's now. Sarge is out, and there is significant
> momentum within the project behind the idea of fixing the release cycle
> problem, so it seems likely that etch will be out in some predictable
> and reasonable amount of time. Why not take advantage of that? Better
> yet, why not help make it happen? Why not, for example, work with
> Debian on putting together a plan for migrating to GCC 4 rather than
> just plowing ahead on your own? Going it alone is sure to cause
> compatibility problems that make the current ones pale by comparison.

Debian and Ubuntu are syncing up, with the maintainers' eyes on the
future instead of the past.  I think the evidence is overwhelming that
Ubuntu is not "going it alone" or "plowing ahead on their own".  To
take your example: if you hadn't noticed, Matthias Klose is the only
person who has ever uploaded GCC 4.0 to either Debian or Ubuntu.  I
suspect that he coordinates with appropriate teams on both sides.  The
glibc teams obviously coordinate very closely, and the shlibver
problem smells more like the law of unintended consequences than
anything else; I think it very improbable that it will recur in the
next cycle.  The X.org packagers on both sides are doing their best --
it's a very challenging situation -- and it looks like they will sync
up where it matters, on the modular tree.

Ubuntu's collective patience and tolerance has been quite remarkable
-- as has Debian's, with few exceptions.  It doesn't make much sense
to me, looking from the outside, to ask Ubuntu to freeze the breezy
ABIs at the place where the sarge roulette wheel stopped.  How about
if everybody puts the sarge/hoary baggage behind them and works on

- Michael

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