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Automated testing - politics, information, and Ubuntu's plans

Note: this is one of two messages on roughly the same topic.

This message is trying to deal with the POLITICAL and process
questions about Ubuntu's work in this area.  I have set the Reply-To
to debian-*project*.  Please send your technical contributions to
debian-*policy*, as followups to my other message which I have posted
only there.

The first two paragraphs are common to the two messages:

One thing that the Debian universe is lacking is a good way to
automatically test packages.  This makes it hard to spot regressions,
and difficult to be systematic.

Ubuntu are proposing to invent a system to allow us to do automated
regression tests.  The full plan consists of a number of pieces and
can be read here:

If you are is interested in this subject you might like to take a
look.  Feel free to make your technical comments on debian-*policy*,
or any other appropriate channel.  (That does _not_ include -project!)
Of course, you are welcome to discuss this on ubuntu-devel, or by
private email, or by tacking it onto the end of the wiki page, as
seems appropriate, but I think debian-policy is probably the right
venue at the moment.  We (Ubuntu) are trying to develop a standard
arrangement which Debian will want to use too.

In case it's not obvious from the wiki page, the intent is to invent
new machinery which will be shared with and used by Debian and Ubuntu
and of course any other Debian-derivatives who like it.  In
particular, I'm expecting us to make the proposed new test harness
packages available in Debian, and for Ubuntu to send new test cases
and other per-package changes up to Debian just as we would for any
other non-Ubuntu-specific improvement to a package.

One of the important parts needed here is an interface for a
Debian-format package to enumerate and describe the tests it supplies,
and to allow a test harness to invoke them.

That interface needs, obviously, to be discussed here on
debian-policy.  I hope that we can discuss it and improve this
interface specification (written largely by me so far) to the point
where we have something that will go into the Debian Policy Manual.
So I have posted another message just to -policy to start that
discussion (and to collect feedback on other aspects of my plans).

We (Ubuntu, again) want to deploy this for our next release, so we
need to get the interface settled fairly quickly, so just to be clear:
if the discussion gets too badly bogged down, we will probably decide
just to go ahead and implement something as best we can based on the
discussion up to that point - just like things have always been done
in the Debian world.

I'm aware that there are have been some difficult politics between
Debiaan and Ubuntu.  If there are significant objection to our
approach then of course we should talk about that and about how we can
improve matters.  So if you'd like to talk about that then I think
debian-project is probably the right place.

(wearing both my Ubuntu and Debian hats)

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