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Re: Improving our response to "duplicate" packages in Debian

Hi Guus!

Guus Sliepen wrote:
> I believe our current way of responding to ITPs for software that duplicates
> the functionality other software that is already in Debian is wrong.
> The worst part is that when we say "but we already have N frobnicators in
> Debian, we don't need an N+1th", we imply that the N pre-existing packages are
> OK but that this new package is Very Bad just because it came late to the game. 

Thanks for summarizing the problem so nicely without getting
emotional. Now I don't have to send my flame on those "we don't need
an N+1th WM" guys for the wmfs ITP. :-)

> - Don't immediately start complaining to the submitter of the ITP. Just let
>   the submitter devote his/her energy to packaging.

Very important and usually the primary fail.

>   Some valid reasons to do complain immediately:
>   - The software is very immature (version 0.1-alpha or something like that).
>   - It's a simple script or very small program, and should be merged (either
>     upstream or downstream) with another package.
>   - It really is an exact duplicate or a fork of another package with almost no
>     changes to the original.

Thanks for this list!

> - Research how many similar software packages are there actually in
>   Debian, in what shape they are, whether they have active upstream
>   and downstream maintainers. Complain about the worst package in
>   that selection instead.

Good idea!

> - Go to the root of the problem: find out why upstream thinks they need to
>   write their software. Maybe they can be convinced to combine their efforts
>   with that of upstreams of similar packages. The ITP submitter should try that
>   himself, I think.

I'd expect that this is rather an RFP issue than a ITP issue, except
maybe when someone changes an RFP to an ITP.

But most ITPs come from people who already have reason to use that
software they want to package.

> So, keep the friction low for maintainers who are actually doing something, and
> if you really feel strongly about duplicate software polluting Debian,
> concentrate your efforts at the existing packages.

Thanks again for that very constructive and calm mail on that topic!

		Regards, Axel
 ,''`.  |  Axel Beckert <abe@debian.org>, http://people.debian.org/~abe/
: :' :  |  Debian Developer, ftp.ch.debian.org Admin
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