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Re: Debian development and release: always releasable (essay)

Paul Wise <pabs@debian.org> writes:
> On Fri, May 10, 2013 at 11:24 PM, Russ Allbery wrote:

>> The point isn't what individual developers do, particularly developers
>> who are extremely well-engaged with the project.  The point is to find
>> ways to do this at another level up.  Obviously, given the number of RC
>> bugs that we had to fix *after* the freeze, this isn't already being
>> done at the level required for a timely release process.  I don't think
>> we can solve that problem by saying "well, developers really *should*."

> The problem this thread is trying to solve essentially comes down to
> "people don't do enough work and we want them to do more".  There are
> various factors at play here; time, motivation, demotivation, knowledge,
> confidence and probably more.

Well, sort of -- we are also proposing an alternative: not shipping those
packages with the next stable release, but making them available to users
in some other way.  So, people don't have to do more work, but instead of
then freezing for months so that everyone else in the project fixes those
packages, we pull them from stable early.  If keeping them in stable is
more work than anyone is willing to do, then they won't be in the release,
and we'll know that much earlier on.  Furthermore, what does need to be
done to keep them in stable will be clearer.

In other words, the proposal is an attempt to fail faster, instead of
accumulating work (which grows larger with each release of Debian) until
the freeze and then trying to fix it all then, across the entire project.

I see below that you generally agree with that part of the proposal
anyway, though.  :)

> The diversity of software in Debian is an advantage, I would prefer that
> we strongly care about all packages for the release. I expect that very
> few people in Debian and none/few of the QA or release team members in
> recent years who share my opinion here though, I accept that and avoid
> expressing this opinion in general. I also acknowledge that we just
> don't have enough people to properly maintain all the packages in Debian
> which means that my opinion is also unrealistic.

I do agree with this opinion (the breadth of Debian is why I'm using it
instead of Red Hat for work), but it's the second part that I'm worried
about.  I do think that some additional clarity and failing faster in
pulling things out of testing sooner will help people focus their efforts
and help with making tradeoff decisions.

> Agreed. Do you have any example use-cases that should block releases but
> aren't in blends or tasks? Perhaps we need to start some new blends or
> add new tasks.

I would need to do some research, since I'm not personally familiar with
everything that's in a blend or a task at the moment.  Just off the top of
my head, though, to pick an area of personal expertise, I don't think
there's an existing blend or task for a Kerberos KDC or, more generally,
an authentication and identity management infrastructure.  That's one that
I'd be willing to tackle creating a package list for if we went this

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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