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

On Fri, Feb 16, 2018 at 04:11:29PM +0100, Raphael Hertzog wrote:
> 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.

So, I think the problem here is not "complex applications" -- we have
many complex applications packaged for Debian -- but instead,
"applications written in languages that have an ecosystem which does not
align with Debian's procedures and technology very well".

I think the proper answer is not something along the lines of "they
suck, they should clean up their act". It is *also* not something along
the lines of "we suck, we should change our whole infrastructure".

Instead, I think the proper way to fix this issue is to engage with the
community behind the language that we currently can't package very well,
and see how we can improve that situation. I'm sure that having minified
javascript be part of a build system isn't necessarily something they'd
be opposed to -- after all, if you do that then you can limit the size
of the resulting .min.js files that you ship even more, which is good
for performance -- and then you end up with a situation of "static
libraries", which while not ideal is better than the status quo (we'd
just need to make sure that the security team's tools track
build-depends on javascript libraries, and they'd know which packages to
rebuild when a security update is necessary).

That's just an example; I'm sure there are other situations where we can
improve the situation on both sides and result in something that makes
everyone a little happier.

> 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)

Which I think is a shame, but given that gitlab doesn't really have any
"long term support" versions, not unsurprising either.

> - 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

To do so, you can use something like the libjs-qunit package which
should allow you to run unit tests on the files in question. Given
enough unit tests, changing out a javascript library from under the rest
of your code shouldn't be too problematic (barring any bugs, which may
always appear and for which we have a very good bug tracker).

In addition, I think that the two specific things you mention here have
a static API, and thus that you shouldn't be afraid to use a different
version in production as compared to the one you used during

After all, if even Debian Developers, while writing code specifically
for Debian, are not doing the things that we expect external developers
to do in order for them to see their code packaged in Debian, then who
are we to request that they do those things?

(this is why I chose to use the packaged versions of jQuery and
bootstrap for SReview rather than embedding them, FWIW)

Could you people please use IRC like normal people?!?

  -- Amaya Rodrigo Sastre, trying to quiet down the buzz in the DebConf 2008

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