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Re: Howdy!



In article <20000424003056.M23292@neep.com.au> you wrote:

> Do you see any way in which people without coding skills can assist with
> what you're doing with the Debian stuff, and the parisc port in general?

In the larger case of stuff that needs doing for Debian, there is a *lot* of
work which needs to get done in the documentation and testing realms in 
particular that doesn't require coding skill.  

In the case of the PARISC port, I'm afraid I can't think of much to do yet
that isn't coding-related.

> Perhaps a task summary or roadmap for the Debian stuff for the list?

I've worked on several other ports of Debian in early stages, and worked on
porting various other flavors of Unix to other systems before Debian.  The key
elements are always pretty much the same.  Here's how I expect it to go:

	- The kernel, toolchain, and C library need to be complete enough
	  to allow cross-compiling working user-space programs.  

	  Until this is done, most of the work is of the "double black diamond"
	  variety... and it's hard to make a casual contribution.

	- The essential parts of the 'base' tarball get cross-compiled to 
	  populate initial systems.  In the Debian case, what you can expect
	  is that at some point we'll starting having base.tar.gz's that you
	  can unpack onto an NFS server to use as an NFS root filesystem at
	  first.

	  Building the first base tarball is something a person or two can do
	  in a few hair-pulling days, typically iterating with the kernel and
	  toolchain folk to take care of new things that show up in the 
	  process.  The use of cross-compilation tools makes this harder than
	  compiling in a self-hosted environment.  As soon as a base tarball
	  exists, folks are welcome to jump in and try booting it on various
	  kinds of hardware, report their success/failure, etc.

	- Enough of the essential build tools get cross-compiled to support
	  self-hosted compilation.  

	  This is often really frustrating work, and in the case of Debian,
	  can require almost as much hand-work as getting the base tarball
	  together, since our source packages can have fairly rich build
	  dependencies.  However, it is *immensely* gratifying the first time
	  the target system runs a 'hello world' program compiled natively.

	- An autobuilder gets put in place, and "all the easy stuff" gets
	  built automatically.  Then becomes the long, iterative process of
	  reviewing the build logs, figuring out what's wrong, generating
	  patches and working with the source package maintainers and sometimes
	  the upstream authors to get them rolled in, etc.  The more people we
	  have helping in this stage, the better... particularly since we'll
	  need to do some platform-specific work on the boot-floppies package,
	  the platform-specific parts of X can burn out several folks before
	  everything is "right", etc.  :-)

	- We release binary-parisc as part of an official release.  I hope we
	  can hit this point in time for woody, but we'll see.

I hope that helps everyone understand what's going on.  We aren't quite done
with the first bullet yet, but I've been poking at the key pieces of the base
package set already, so the moment we get working tools and libraries, the pace
should pick up.

Bdale


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