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Re: Take APT 0.6 discussion public!

martin f krafft asks,

> Obviously, for reasons unknown to the mere mortals,
> the above only applies to topics of the mere mortals
> of Debian, not to certain members of the cabal. Some
> vital components of the Debian project are better kept
> away from the public, or they could be flooded with
> opinions or suggestions for improvement, or even
> <gasp> help (ftpmasters, are you listening?).

AJ Towns replies,

> Yes. If we weren't we might wake up one day and
> mistakenly think it might be possible to have
> discussions on Debian lists that didn't involve
> gratuitous insults.

AJ, having respect for and deference to your inestimable
Debian work, nevertheless I object.  When have you ever
seen Martin F. Krafft gratuitously insult anyone?  Has
he not earned the benefit of the doubt?  It is hard to
imagine someone so passionate about Debian who
habitually tries so hard to avoid insult, as Martin F.

Martin's valid question stands.  Someone has advised
Martin to plan his APT work in the full glare of the
lists.  Whether this is good advice to Martin, I do not
know; but all Martin wants to know is, if the advice is
good for the APT team, then why not for ftpmaster?

It is a fair question, asked by many others on this list
in various ways, and never really answered in my
opinion.  I have never asked the question but
respectfully I do so now.  Why can so many DDs
apparently not determine to their satisfaction why and
how ftpmaster works, or what they can do to help when
ftpmaster seems broken?  Are these DDs somehow
delinquent?  Do they need to RTFM?  Are they as
children, who just do not understand?  But how can they
understand what has so long been hidden?  Are they
unreasonable to expect gentle illumination, moderate
collegiality, and some ongoing public engagement?  Are
they actually getting these things, only they don't
realize it?  On the other hand, does ftpmaster feel
besieged?  Is the problem that Debian development is too
open, too undisciplined for practical collegiality?  Yet
the release team answer questions publicly: not everyone
agrees with everything they do, but few seem to wonder
what dark secrets they keep.  And when you, AJ, served
as release manager, did you ever raise a tangled hedge
to keep information in and eyes and voices out?  I do
not think that you did.  The same can be said of the
dpkg and installer teams: at least they converse.  What
is this shroud which hides ftpmaster?

It may be observed that there has recently been good
progress on the DAM front, and this is true.  However,
the question was about ftpmaster not the DAM.  Either
the two are separate roles or they are not.  The matter
can be debated under either premise, but either way,
similar questions arise.

It is doubtful whether anyone can do much useful work in
the continuous, full glare of general public scrutiny.
This is admitted.  It is also admitted that anything
ftpmaster publishes about its internal works invites
unsettling, perhaps even unwarranted criticism, costing
ftpmaster patience and time---and even opening the
possibility of a direct challenge: "I can do ftpmaster's
job better.  Watch."  However, the body of DDs are not
the general public, and Martin has never asked for hot
spotlights to focus on every tiny ftpmaster move.  He
has asked: if gentle illumination and moderate
transparency matter in APT work, then how much more so
in ftpmaster work?

If the question in any of its several forms is found
insulting by some, I hope that they will pardon Martin,
me, and the several others who have asked it.
(Certainly it would be extremely easy to punish me, who
after nearly three years of Debian development am soon
to go for final DAM review.)  I intend no more insult
than Martin does.  Not a DD, I have earned no right to
demand an answer; but it were cowardice to leave Martin
standing alone today, and I would respectfully request
an answer nevertheless.

Thaddeus H. Black
508 Nellie's Cave Road
Blacksburg, Virginia 24060, USA
+1 540 961 0920, t@b-tk.org

(I would quietly ask that this post not be referenced in
the Weekly News.  The Weekly News is great and has the
honorable right to reference anything it sees fit.
Personally I do not mind either way.  However, if
mention in the Weekly News tempted a certain non-Debian
forum to open a clueless thread on the topic, then I am
not sure what good purpose it would serve.  Anyone who
is really interested can read about it here.  This is

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