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Re: Proposal for collaborative maintenance of packages


On Sunday 18 December 2005 17:19, Raphael Hertzog wrote:
> following the last discussion at the Debian-QA meeting on Darmstadt, it
> appears that the proposal called "Collaborative maintenance" is of
> generic interest :
> - for Debian sponsors and Debian mentors
> - for QA which may use the infrastructure for orphaned packages
> - for Ubuntu's MOTU School
> I tried to describe the big lines of the project in this wiki page:
> http://wiki.debian.org/CollaborativeMaintenance

Thanks for writing that down.

> I'm crossposting this to all people involved (even people responsible of
> the REVU tool used by Ubuntu) because I'm sure that we should all work
> together to realize this project.

I believe that mentoring/sponsoring is a permanent issue that can always be 
improved. When I attended the Ubuntu conference in Mataro in 2004 I was 
asked to present mentors.debian.net in a BOF. And I learned that many 
things went differently in Ubuntu compared to Debian. That doesn't mean 
it's generally bad. Many good ideas came up and new maintainer's process 
in Ubuntu was about to evolve during that time. But still I think that the 
approach for maintaining packages has become completely different in both 
distributions. I'm curious to hear more of Ubuntu/MOTUs. And this is not 
meant as an excuse to not improve things. :)

> This infrastructure is seriously needed in Debian because:
> - team maintenance with SVN is more and more popular, and a good web
>   interface above a SVN repo of Debian packages would help all those
>   teams

If there is a fixed team working on a package they propbably already use 
subversion and svn-buildpackage.

> - an official way to follow interaction between mentors and sponsors is
>   needed and actual mentors.debian.net/sponsors.debian.net are not
>   enough for that

Not in the current shape. Let me announce already that we are working on a 
massive redesign of mentors.debian.net at the moment. We will rework the 
interface to improve the communication between sponsors and mentors (yes, 
it's badly needed, I know). Our approach is not a repository though. m.d.n 
is mainly a place to upload and download packages - but not work on them 
in parallel. Repositories are very useful when packages are co-maintained. 
I'm working on multiple Debian projects where we would be lost without a 
repository. But when it comes to sponsorship it's the 
maintainers/sponsoree's task to maintain the package. I don't think the 
sponsor should change the package at all. When sponsoring packages I don't 
touch them. Even if there is a typo I "complain" to the package maintainer 
and have the bug fixed. So I personally see a difference between 
co-maintainership and sponsorship. I know that Ubuntu does not have this 
"package lock" like in Debian. Everyone seems to be allowed to upload 
every package without fearing to be flamed. Although this is a nice idea I 
doubt it will work in Debian.

> - we need to facilitate the work of sponsors because we're lacking
>   sponsors

Sponsoring isn't too hard. Potential sponsors just need to look at the 
debian-mentors mailing list (there are many RFSs) or perhaps check 
mentors.debian.net/sponsors.debian.net. The problem here is non-technical. 
You need to motivate more DDs to sponsor packages. Getting a package from 
a private repository/web space/mentors.debian.net is nearly trivial. The 
only issue that can be improved here is to get more volunteer sponsors and 
to get them informed if someone needs sponsorship.

> - we need to let skilled external contributors maintain packages for us
>   (when they don't want to become DD)

I'm perfectly happy with a "permanent sponsoring relationship". Some DDs 
seem to want every maintainer to become a DD. Becoming a DD is still a 
long road and IMHO not needed. Once I have sponsored a package I know it's 
technically okay and I know the sponsoree. Uploading a consecutive update 
of the same package takes a few minutes only. I wished more sponsors would 
offer such a relationship. When I had to look for sponsors myself a while 
ago I saw sponsors come and go. And some packages didn't even make it into 
Debian because nobody was interested.

> Furthermore, if we can standardize this infrastructure between
> Debian/Ubuntu, it will be easier to integrate packages created by Ubuntu
> MOTU in Debian (I'm speaking of packages which don't exist in Debian
> yet). 

Although I would of course like to have a better integration I doubt we 
will get that done soon. Ubuntu has developed a number of own tools to 
manage their distribution. DDs and MOTUs seem to work way differently. But 
I admit I will have to learn more on how Ubuntu handles that at the very 

> FWIW, I have an alioth project ready to be used :
> http://alioth.debian.org/projects/collab-maint/

What is the purpose of that project? Creating a repository? Or moving this 
discussion to a mailing list there?

As a conclusion... some of the aspects you proposed will be handled by the 
new "version" of mentors.debian.net. In the future we plan to migrate 
mentors.debian.net and sponsors.debian.net into a single service. We will 
see how that works out. :) At least I'd like to monitor all efforts being 
done because it would be sad to see m.d.n to become superfluous.

Kind regards

Andreas Barth's posted about "Bits from the Darmstadt QA team meeting" a 
while ago. I wrote him a lengthy mail but never got a reply. I wondered 
what happened.
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