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Re: Adding support for LZIP to dpkg, using that instead of xz, archive wide

Antonio Diaz Diaz <antonio@gnu.org> writes:

> IMHO, if two options are equally good for the Debian use case but one of
> them is better for most of the users, Debian should choose the one that
> is better for most of the users. Else, what is the use of the social
> contract?

That may be a worthwhile factor to take into account *before* we decided
something.  But that's not the current state.  We've already decided on
something, and it's already supported by all of our tools.  You're asking
for a change, which is a huge amount of work.  This needs to add
significant value for our use case to warrant the effort.  Providing a
better example for people with completely different use cases is a
marginal benefit at best.

> In one year or two nobody noticed (or cared about) the deficient design
> of xz? Wow!

Yup.  To this point, while you're not the only person I've ever seen
complain about the design of xz, I can certainly count them on one hand.
And that's not just on Debian mailing lists, but also across a variety of
other technical mailing lists I follow.

That doesn't mean your objections are wrong, and I certainly haven't
looked at it in detail.  But they don't seem to be widely shared.

> A selection process that chooses a defective format (lzma-alone),

I don't think it's accurate to say that we chose lzma-alone.  I think
there was some support for using it for upstream tarballs in some early
iterations of a new source package format, and then, IIRC, we removed it
again.  We never, so far as I recall, used it as a compression format for
binary packages, and I don't think it was ever widely used.

For binary packages, we went from gzip to xz.  For source packages, we
also support bzip2.

However, I wasn't directly involved in that evaluation, so it's possible
that I'm misremembering.

> It is also depressing for me to have to point out the defects in both
> the xz format and the Debian decision-making process. The current
> situation should never have happened. Xz should have been evaluated by
> an expert and rejected outright, instead of wasting one year or two in
> popularity contests just to reach the wrong decision.

I realize that you're quite confident in your expertise here, and quite
possibly have reason to be confident, but it might be worth remembering
that, to the rest of us, you're just some random person on a mailing list
who has written some competing software and wants us to use it.  No
offense, but we see a *lot* of people like that, and most of them are
significantly overstating their claims.  So you're facing a fair bit of
natural skepticism.

> If high-quality is desired, then democracy is not the best way of
> deciding about technical questions.

No one made decisions via democracy.  The decision to switch to xz was
made by consensus, which isn't the same thing.  The major objections
raised at the time were about the amount of memory required for
decompression.  I don't recall anyone raising the issues that you're
raising now, and there was quite an extended discussion process.

> I agree that this thread is not helping, but I think it is because
> Debian is not the place I thought it was.

> In particular I am very surprised by the insistence on statistics on
> this thread. IMHO, statistics, specially of the "popularity contest"
> kind, are out of place in this decision. This is an ethical and
> technical decision about using in Debian packaging either:

> a) a defective format implemented by public domain code that can be
> easily made non-free, or

> b) a flawless format implemented by truly free code that will remain
> free[1].

There are many people here who view software under BSD-style licenses to
be more free and hence preferrable than software under the GPL.  And
others who do not.  Therefore, our community welcomes both, and does not
react well to aggressive statements like this about how the other set of
beliefs is obviously wrong.

Also, anyone who describes their own format as flawless raises HUGE red
flags for me.  It indicates some really scary hubris.

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

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