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Re: [DebianGIS] Bug#588812: [DebianGIS-dev] Debian GIS metapackages available [Was: debian-gis_0.0.1_i386.changes ACCEPTED]

> > Andreas:
> > > So what do you think about my suggestions to make Debian GIS more
> > > popular than it currently is?
> > come on now, we are all intelligent people worthy of mutual respect.
> I'm sorry if I have made an impression which might have questioned this.
> It was not intended to disrespect your work.  Rather the contrary:
> Because I highly respect your work I think it deserves more popularity.

Sorry if I come off a bit grumpy :) you just happened to step on one of
my pet peeves at the wrong moment. For the most part I fully agree with
your efforts, the bit I dislike about the phrasing is the implication that
if one disagrees with the point they are being anti-project. While your
comment was friendly & light-hearted, maybe the best+worst bullying example
of this in common sight is the USA's rather unpatriotic PATRIOT Act.

> The more part is that I'm having the hope that the list
> will not only get a new name (and home)

(by 'home' I take it you mean @lists.d.o instead of @alioth.d.o server?)

> but turns into a medium where we actively can attract users (and later
> developers) better than before.

among those who frequent the lists of debian lists, yes, and that is not
a bad crowd to be exposed to.

> This year at Bordeaux LSM she told me:
>    I have heard that Debian has decided to package Qgis.  That would
>    be really cool.
> So what to say?  My first point is that she did not understand the
> Do-O-cracy principle in Debian.  Not "Debian has decided" but one (or
> more) developers just have done something (packaging Qgis).

my first impressions on that comment are
- great, geographers are demanding qgis!
- really it is more correct to say that qgis has returned..
- really is that communication channels with upstream had drifted away
- I'd forgive the "debian executive has made a decision to package qgis"
as it is quite a strange notion to outsiders who are used to corporations
or top-down NGOs. I really struggle to name any other bottom-up org as
successful and functional (no, I mean it :) as debian.

> If she is using stable she might not have noticed that qgis is in
> testing and obviosely has not checked the Deban website or any other
> medium to verify that there are just packages (which might be easy to
> backport or not).  So she simply failed to get the information
> she was seeking.

and yet she did hear of it from somewhere anyway..?

> If there would be a list which is obviosely accepting questions like:
> "How can I run Qgis under Debian?"  she might have gotten help.

there is one, two actually if you include UbuntuGIS, and three if you
include the qgis list(s), and many more if you include the local osgeo
chapters and international osgeo lists.

I fully agree that lowering the barriers to entry are important.

>    http://blends.debian.net/liststats/authorstat_med.png
> against
>    http://blends.debian.net/liststats/authorstat_pkg-grass-general.png
> you will see a contrary development of active users on the list.

grain of salt: you must put that graph in perspective with the rise
of the OSGeo movement, which often informally communicates things which
would otherwise find a home here. Or maybe Frankie is just so damn
efficient and everything works that we don't get many complaints :o)
aka determining causation is a difficult call.

> Debian Med has gathered active users over time and I can say that
> we do not just gathered commiters to the list but we have *at least*
> six new DDs *because* the Debian Med project exists (and some more are
> in the queue).  For all of them the Debian Med project and the mailing
> list was the main entry point.  It also serves as contact point
> for upstream developers.

I congratulate you on that, by any measure of success that is a healthy
situation to be in.

but does FOSS 4 Med have an equivalent to OSGeo already filling that niche?

> The tendency on the pkg-grass-general list is rather contrary.  I do not
> want to say that it is just a question of the name of the list.  But I
> know for sure from the example above (and others not mentioned here) that
> a pure packaging list on Alioth is not a good entry point to start.

Perhaps that's where our miscommunication lies, I've still been thinking
of it as mostly a packaging dev list, as opposed to say an osgeo-discuss@.
(not that I have any strong feeling of what it should be, just observation
on what it has been)

> > i.e. people heavily using the packages are the best dev pool, and they
> > already know about us since looking at a package status or filing a bug.
> That's for sure.  But did you gave users a reason to use Debian packages
> and not Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSuse, etc.? 

should I? If we are doing our jobs well Ubuntu gains and takes some credit
for it, but I'm not too worried about that, they help us too. It's not a
zero-sum game so I'm not too concerned about poaching users from other
distros. I'd rather poach unhappy refugees from other OSs by way of better

> Do you think that you have given a random GIS user an explicite reason
> why he should use Debian?

I'd avoid the words "I have", but in general I genuinely think we've done
quite a bit of good work for the world in that regard.

IMO a solid application and flawless user experience is the best
advertisement.  `apt-get install it-just-works` sells itself better than
any advertising campaign.

> There are so many open doors in Open Source - have you ever asked why
> so many people do not care about passing these doors?

personally it usually starts out as a support request :)

> I'm quite convinced that's because they do not really know what is
> behind the door and it really helps if there is some leading hand to
> help them through.
> I'm also convinved that from a technical packaging point of view Debian
> is really great and every maintainer in Debian GIS does a great job.  My
> main issue in all this Blend stuff is that we fail to make the step from
> single package maintenance to providing a complete set of work tools and
> advertising it to the users.  Some steps are done by creating some live
> CDs.  But how many live CDs a user will really try excessively?

considering live.osgeo.org (based in large part on our .debs) will go out
to some thousands of professionals this quarter our work is certainly not
going unused... well to be honest DebianGIS isn't getting much visible
credit out of that right now, but I can certainly make an effort to change
that if the group wishes.

> This seems similar to the decision to cover not only health record
> applications into Debian Med but include also microbiological research
> into the project.  The common set is quite small (probably smaller than
> DebianGIS/OSGeo and OSM) but you need a critical mass for a team.  The
> microbiological software was quite strong and we needed this strength to
> grow as a project.  So IMHO it is really clever to actively involve a
> strong community into a common project.  Some health care application
> upstream authors call Debian "reference distribution" and recommend
> their users using it.  I would really love to hear that GIS and OSM
> people would say the same in this field.

when the pools of people become shallow, often it comes down to the
presence or absence of key personalities. FWIW I do hope some key OSM
people decide to come our way, we can lower the barrier to entry, but
it still up to them to come in.

> > *** the mailing list history is preserved
> > 
> > Alexander Wirt wrote:
> > > > Its no problem to import old mails if the come in a common
> > > > format like mbox. 
> > 
> > (I assume the Alioth admins are willing and able to provide the mbox
> > file?)
> I think so.

anyway now that I think of it there's a magic listserv URL you can use
which sends you the entire archive as mbox, somewhere in my notes...

[zero spam]
> But I admit this condition of yours is probably not fulfilled.

well, I was being a bit absolutist to make a point :) you are correct
that perfection would never be satisfied, but it still feels good to
try as we can.

> > *** the pkg-grass-devel list be renamed debiangis-commit (i.e. what it
> > is) to stop the confusion there of humans posting to that list.

as pointed out, while current frozen packages point to this as the
maintainer email, it can't change yet.

> This list can definitely remain on Alioth and I do not really consider
> this name as to confusing for the target audience which are defintely
> package developers who are really interested and educated enough to
> accept this historical name.
> So if you prefer changing both for the sake of completeness it is fine.
> I'm personally in favour of completeness and clarity, but this is
> technically different because it would only be a rename and no move to
> a different host and is conceptual different because it remains for
> issues which are definitely packaging related while I want to widen the
> topic of a general debian-gis list.

The current -devel list is non-human commits and automated bug report
incoming. Personally I browse that one in a news reader and am happy to
not have to dig through all the traffic for the occasional personal comms.

The current -general list is the developer packaging chatter, low volume
and easy to follow. Personally, I like this.

And the current general user oriented FOSS GIS chatter is handled by one
of these many lists, which are up to something like 15,000 subscribers in

Mainly I don't see the point of trying to change the focus of this list
to compete with the established OSGeo lists for a general audience.
anyway, in large part we'd just be poaching from ourselves in that
instance and many of us wear many hats.

> Hamish, I hope this lengthy mail explains enouth that I do not
> disrespect anybodies work or intelligence.

I should have been more clear that it's just that one method of rhetoric
I have a problem with, otherwise we are all with the same positive goals
(mostly) and ideas of how to get there.

best regards,


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