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Re: Re: Canonical's business model

Hi Matt,

Matt Zimmerman <mdz@ubuntu.com> writes:
> On Wed, Jan 11, 2006 at 02:34:31PM -0800, Thomas Bushnell BSG wrote:
> > Ubuntu could report in the BTS all the bugs it finds, and submit patches
> > via the BTS.


> Many patches are submitted via the BTS, though not every patch published in
> the patch archive is submitted this way, for reasons which have been
> discussed to death in previous threads.

I personally appreciate the excellent work done by Ubuntu. Just looking
at major GNOME improvements that directly resulted from Ubuntu efforts
(by Debian Developers such as Sébastien Bacher) clearly shows how Ubuntu
helps the free desktop evolve by leaps and bounds. 

What I think could be done in a significantly better way is for Ubuntu
to have an explicit commitment to always discuss with the "upstream"
Debian maintainer of a package before introducing an Ubuntu-specific
diff, especially in cases where the patch would likely benefit Debian. 

This could take the form of an extra paragraph in the Ubuntu community
pledge (I forgot exactly how it's called, sorry) that people must sign
before being allowed to contribute packages to Ubuntu. That paragraph
would state that:

1) diffs should be avoided unless absolutely necessary and 

2) such divergences from the Debian package must always be discussed
with the Debian maintainer and submitted as a patch to the BTS, before a
decision is made to fork. 

3) Debian should be treated as upstream, meaning that the Ubuntu
developer that decided to fork must track the Debian package and
contribute patches on a regular basis, just like the Debian maintainer
would with the upstream developer of software he packaged for Debian.

The explicit goal, in both cases, is to reduce diffs and streamline the
task of merging useful patches from Ubuntu.

Here's two examples of where such a course of action could have been
useful, taking two of my own packages as an example:

1) rus-ispell

Patched by doko to introduce a new upstream release. Never submitted to
the BTS and required asking #ubuntu-motu to manually sync to my recent
uploaded of an even newer upstream release, after repeated attempts to
contact doko failed to produce results.

2) numlockx

Patched by Reinhard Tartler to adjust compile paths for X.org 7.0 libs.
Never submitted to the BTS and unnecessary since, as pointed out by a
recent message from the X Task Force, the proper way to do this is to
relibtoolize against autoconf version greater than 2.59a-4.

Thus, I think that if Ubuntu placed an obligation upon its developers to
always try discussing with the Debian maintainer before patching, a lot
of unnecessary diffs could be avoided, just like in the above two cases.

Just my two bits.

Best Regards,
Martin-Éric Racine

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