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Re: duplicates in the archive

On Sun, 24 Jun 2012 20:42:33 +0200
Arno Töll <arno@debian.org> wrote:

> On 24.06.2012 19:51, Neil Williams wrote:
> > Whatever happens, there is no place for yet another duplicate of
> > packages which already have multiple duplicates in the archive.
> Letting alone the package in particular (I don't even know it, nor do I
> care)

(Neither do I, particularly - but Thomas' list made it just too
obvious that there was no justification for the bug report at the time
of filing.)

>, I wonder where you'd draw that line. As you say yourself: There
> are lots of alternative packages in the archive already. So, what makes
> all the other alternatives acceptable but this one not?
> What makes 42 window manager acceptable but not 43?

If it can be justified. That's what the objective comparison would need
to demonstrate. That's an established pattern in Debian - if someone
wants to add something which is the same as something else, there
should be a good reason to introduce the new one in that it needs to be
better than the existing ones in some way which isn't achievable just
by patching one of the existing ones.

Debian works on merit - packages and maintainers. Suggesting or
packaging something which is without merit will usually result in
complaints from your peers. Cope with it. Maintainers should not expect
to be treated with kid gloves when what they are actually doing is
wasting the free time of other volunteers.

We're used to 'Justification' as a concept for RC bugs, well an ITP is
a bug in Debian and can also require justification. Some ITP bugs are
simply invalid.

Someone needs to make that call and as we're all part of the QA team,
various people do it according to their own free time, work area,
expertise and general levels of annoyance with daft ideas.

Whether it's a joke package or a tiny package which needs to go into a
collective package (goodies or devscripts or whatever), if maintainers
(prospective or existing) can't do their own research ahead of filing a
bug, it is up to the rest of us to point out the error.

> I'm not in favor to get yet another window manager in Debian. All I'm
> saying is that filing a WNPP bug and wait whether a people complain loud
> enough is not the way to learn that.

So feel free to file a patch to the Developer Reference explaining that
if maintainers of prospective packages don't check for existing packages
which provide the same or very similar functionality, any request to
package such a duplicate needs to be accompanied by a detailed
reasoning of *why* the existing packages are sufficiently inadequate
that a new package is warranted instead of patching what we have.

To me, such an expectation is common sense and I'm quite happy to
continue criticising ITP's on the basis of being an unjustifiable
duplicate of existing packages.

> Especially since a WNPP bug
> complaints are not worth that much. If you happen to find a DD to upload
> your stuff or you are DD yourself, you can silently ignore any comments
> if you like and upload nonetheless.

At which point, the credibility of any such DD is diminished, as is
the credibility of any DD who sponsors such packages despite
complaints from his/her peers. 

> That's how we end up with 42 display manager. Complaining on the 43th is
> not the way to go.

The 43rd must be *justified* - there needs to be a reason why the lack
of this package is a bug in Debian. Otherwise the request could just as
well be reassigned as a wishlist bug against one of the alternatives.

> Moreover, would you be a well respected Debian Developer today if your
> replies to your first WNPP bug (if you filed any, I don't know) back
> then told you to go away, nobody appreciates your work?

As hinted in my previous post, I did my research before filing my first
(and subsequent) ITP bugs. Nobody disagreed at the time and I have
since removed the first package I introduced into Debian as it's time
had passed. There were no duplicates but there was also no
justification for it remaining in the archive for wheezy.

An ITP is meant to be a bug in Debian - that Debian is missing some
functionality. It is perfectly acceptable to require that such
functionality can be implemented in a different way by working with a
package we already have. Triaging bugs requires that the bugs are
tested for validity before spending more time on the fix. No point
putting the wrong fix into the archive.

However, I also had comments from other bugs once becoming a DD which
showed where I'd gone wrong on those packages, but that just meant that
I had to show I could accept criticism and just get on with fixing
stuff. Those who did criticise me I now count as friends, so that is
how I think Debian should work.


Neil Williams

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