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What can Debian do to provide complex applications to its users?

Hello everybody,

the fact that I had to request the removal of dolibarr from Debian makes
me sad (see below for the reasons) and I believe that we should be able
to do better to provide complex applications to our end users.

Dolibarr is not alone:

- while gitlab is packaged in Debian, its packaging took years and the
  result is brittle because it can break in many ways whenever one the 
  dozens of dependencies gets updated to some new upstream version
  (BTW salsa.debian.org does not use the official package)

- I have the Debian packaging of distro-tracker (the code behind
  tracker.debian.org) available in the git repository for years
  but I never released it into Debian because it embeds a few javascript
  libraries (bootstrap, jquery) and I don't want to validate that
  it does work with the versions currently in Debian

I'm sure we are missing lots of good applications due to our requirements.
What can we do to avoid this?

I don't have any definite answers although there are ideas to explore:

- we could relax our requirements and have a way to document the
  limitations of those packages (wrt our usual policies)

- we could ship those applications not as .deb but as container
  and let them have their own lifecycle

What do you think? Do you have other ideas? Are there other persons
who are annoyed by the current situation?


On Fri, 16 Feb 2018, Raphaël Hertzog wrote:
> Package: ftp.debian.org
> Severity: normal
> I'm the usual sponsor of dolibarr in Debian. The maintainer (and
> upstream author) Eldy Destailleur announced me a few weeks ago that he
> will no longer be maintaining Dolibarr within Debian because it was
> too much of a pain to respect all the Debian requirements.
> He explained to me that Dolibarr relies on 15 javascripts libraries (some of them
> are dependencies of the libraries that Dolibarr are using in the first
> place) and 5 PHP libraries.
> Debian's requirement to provide a non-minified copy of the javascript is
> really hard to meet for him because often the projects are only providing
> the sources under the form a github link (and not under the form of
> a non-minified javascript that we could put next to the minified file to
> please lintian). He would have to spend a lot of times with the different
> upstreams to get them to provide the non-minified file in a form that is
> suitable for Debian. It's even likely that his requests would be dismissed
> by multiple upstream authors leaving him in the inconvenient position of
> having to remove features to be able to ship a policy-compliant Debian
> package.
> The requirement to use packaged versions of all the libraries is also
> problematic. More often that not the version used by Dolibarr will not
> match the version currently available in Debian and it's always a risk
> to use a different version. Sometimes it will work just fine, sometimes it
> will break.
> Given all those constraints, he decided to stop trying to maintain
> Dolibarr in Debian and the Dolibarr project will only provide an
> unofficial .deb embedding all the libraries that they need.
> I doubt anyone else is willing to maintain Dolibarr in Debian and I'm
> thus requesting the package to be removed. Users are better served
> by the upstream unofficial package rather than by Debian's outdated
> package (it's outdated due to the difficulty of updating it in a
> policy-compliant way).
> I would hope that we could find a way to get the best of both worlds
> but right now it seems that we don't have a good solution for that kind
> of web application.
> Thank you.

Raphaël Hertzog ◈ Debian Developer

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