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Re: dpkg-source's future and relation with VCS

Anthony Towns <aj@azure.humbug.org.au> writes:

> I think it's a mistake to separate those -- our source package format is
> a VCS system; if wig&pen happens to be a more suitable VCS, that's fine,
> but it's not inherently superior or inferior to any other VCS, just
> because it happens to be Debian-specific.

I very strongly disagree with this use of terminology.

Our source package format is not a VCS system currently.  It is a way of
representing two works that combine into a source package, but thinking of
that as a VCS just results in a bunch of conclusions that muddy the whole
issue.  There is no history, and history is the entire point of a VCS.

wig&pen isn't a better VCS; it's a better way of representing the current
state of the tree.  It still doesn't have any history.  It simply doesn't
bundle together all of the changes into one blob of "Debian work" and
instead presents a bunch of separately appliable and analyzable changes.

When we call that a VCS, we get into endless arguments about how we should
use a real VCS, how people don't want to dumb down their VCS into a patch
format, and so forth, which are all red herrings created by the mistaken
terminology.  If our source format is like anything, it's like a
changeset or collection of changesets in the old arch definition, with no
ordering and no history.  It is, in other words, an interchange format.
If we present it in that fashion, we avoid a lot of futile discussions.

> ie, "that can be used to covert from the VCS used in development to
> wig&pen VCS".

This is not what those scripts do.  If they did that, they'd retain
history, which is entirely not the point.  What those scripts do is
transform the head of the VCS into an interchange format that can either
be worked on as-is or imported into a different VCS.  It loses all the VCS
metadata (intentionally) but retains the separation of conceptually
different changes.

> So far, wig&pen has objectively failed as a source format; please let
> the git/bzr/etc format succeed or fail on its own merits, without tying
> it to a wig&pen resurrection attempt...

Am I able to upload a wig&pen source package right now?  My impression was
that it was never tried.

I agree with Raphael: wig&pen has more immediate appeal for widespread
adoption than a VCS-based system, even if a VCS-based system is better in
the long run.  This is easily seen by looking at the archive.  wig&pen is
essentially what everyone who is using quilt or dpatch is already doing.
It's a standardization of current practice, which is always easier.

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

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