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We need a global decision about R data in binary format, and stick to it.

Le Mon, Aug 05, 2013 at 12:37:17AM +0000, Paul Richards Tagliamonte a écrit :
> Hi maintainer,
> sysdata.rda appears to be in your source, which is a dataset compressed
> into pickled R objects.
> Can you assure me of one of two things:
>   1. that this data is *not* used anywhere in the binary packages
>      (and is not shipped) and *can* be rebuilt from *just* the contents
>      of the package and that it is *not* shipped.
>   2. that you rebuild this at build-time, and that is included.
> I see two sysdata files that are getting installed.
> If these are coming from this binary file, please respond asking
> for a REJECT and re-upload this package fixing the situation

Dear Paul and everybody,

it is the common practice in upstream R packages to store data in binary
objects.  Those objects can be modified with R, and exported into various
formats.  The Debian archive if full of them.

The question asked by Paul is a recurrent question that comes each time the FTP
trainees rotate (basically once per release cycle, because during the Freeze
the FTP trainees find other exciting tasks to do, and then do not seem to have
much time to process NEW anymore).

The proble is that if there is a too strong mismatch between what the R modules
currently in the Debian archive, and the criteria for introducing new packages.
As a consequence, the work on packages that are actively developped stops, and
Debian slowly retains only the packages that nobody uses anymore, and that
therefore do not pick extra dependancies that have to go through the NEW queue.
This is active bitrotting at its worst.

I would like to have a global decision about R packages in Debian, not only
about the new ones, and then document this decision and stick to it.  But I
warn that it may have the consequence of moving most of them to non-free,
despite the data in binaryformat is freely modifiable or exportable to text
format with R, which is a Free software that we distribute.

Have a nice day,

Charles Plessy
Debian Med packaging team,
Tsurumi, Kanagawa, Japan

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