Minutes of an Ubuntu-Debian discussion that happened at Debconf
On Friday, 20th of May 2006 a bunch of Ubuntu and Debian people had a nice
dinner and chatted about how we can improve our relationships. Here's a
summary of what has been discussed during that time. Many ideas have been
thrown out. Not all of them may be implemented. Please check the last
section ("Actions") to see decisions that we'll try to stick with.
====== Summary ======
===== Generic remarks =====
Those "philosophical" remarks have been made during the discussion and
appear to be quite consensual and have driven our reflexion on how to
* Other Debian derivatives are backed by commercial entities and haven't
generated the same level of fear than Canonical. We all have to
acknowledge that Ubuntu is different from other derivatives by the success
it has encountered (thanks to the good work of both sides!) but the
problems we're facing now, are generic problems that we could have with
other derivatives as well. We were just not prepared to work efficiently
with any derivative and we're just figuring out how to do it right. Debian
needs to evolve to be better armed to incorporate the good bits that are
* Ubuntu should invest in a relationship with those Debian Developers who
are happy working with it, rather than spend time worrying about those
Debian developers who are vocal against it.
* Ubuntu needs Debian, and Debian needs Ubuntu as well as it needs all the other
users and derivatives that keep it alive. If Debian came to need Ubuntu more
than other users, then it would be discriminating against the other users.
Debian of course has a big benefit from pulling in improvements from the work
of its derivatives.
Mark Shuttleworth noted that Ubuntu is opening new doors that Debian has
failed to open, and that Debian would greatly benefit from a more active
merging from Ubuntu much like Ubuntu does the merge from sid every 6 months.
===== Technical changes =====
1. Fix scott's patch repository: Ubuntu needs to keep a copy of the
original Debian source package used to create their packages so that
Ubuntu can always generate a useful patch without relying on
snapshot.debian.net (which is unreliable and is not officially supported
by the Debian project). Scott announced the "breakage" on debian-devel but
it hasn't been fixed yet:
2. On the long term, Ubuntu wants to maintain packages as bzr branches
which will offer many more possibilities to analyze the work that has been
done on our packages, but this is not expected to be implemented in the
short term so another solution had to be found. Scott's patchs are
difficult to use because they agregate several separate changes made over
time. The simple thing to do is to send the diff of changes made within
Ubuntu (for each upload of modified version of a package) to the Debian
PTS via the new derivatives keyword (that people have to explicitly
subscribe to) so that the Debian maintainer can be notified when something
changes and keep an historical list of small patches instead of relying
only on the big patch of scott's repository.
3. Some people have expressed concerns about Launchpad.net: they would
like to have access to technical information that flows through Launchpad
but they don't want to sign up for a full Launchpad.net password-protected
account. All informations on the web interface can already be browsed
without having an account however you can't subscribe to Malone (Ubuntu's
BTS) or to the spec tracker without an account right now. Canonical agreed
to offer a simple subscription mechanism which wouldn't require a
password-protected Launchpad.net account.
4. Debian should provide patches of changes between two revisions of a
package to make it easier for derivatives to track Debian. This is just
like point 2, but reversed.
===== Communication improvements =====
Many problems are due to misunderstanding between both parties and we
could improve that in several ways.
5. We need a wiki page for Debian Developers summarizing the most
important information that Debian Developers can be interested to know
(differences in work flow between Debian/Ubuntu, pointers to Ubuntu wiki
pages that can be useful for Debian Developers, FAQs, ...)
6. Many Debian developers do not know who to ask for in the Ubuntu
community when they have a specific request. Matt Zimmerman gladly replies
to those requests. But it would still be interesting to have a monthly IRC
meeting where Debian and Ubuntu meet and reply to questions that any side
may have (#debian-ubuntu in irc.debian.org).
7. Many DDs know about Scott's patch repository but they have no idea of
what stuff they will find in there. Thus they don't even care to check
what's there. We should communicate a bit better to DDs the technical
changes that Ubuntu implemented and will implement. This would minimize
the chance to miss good changes. This should probably be done as part of
an Utnubu report.
8. Improve Scott's page. The look (and usefulness) of that page should
match the level of commitment that Ubuntu wants to have with Debian.
Various ideas in that direction: improve the visual appearance of the
page, add headers/footers pointing to other informations which are
important to DDs interested in collaboration, maybe keep history of the
patches that have been made available.
===== Other changes =====
9. It would be great if Ubuntu could advertise a bit more its Debian
correlation by putting Debian logos in CD covers, background images,
installer splashscreen, etc. Some kind of "Trademark policy" needs to be
worked out with Ubuntu.
10. Maybe we should modify the process to become MOTU to add an explicit
step where the MOTU has to acknowledge the Ubuntu-Debian relationship, and
it has a good understanding that it's the interest of both sides to work
closely. This needs to be discussed and proposed to the Ubuntu Community
11. Organize joint Debian-Ubuntu "camps" on specific tasks that are common
to Debian and Ubuntu. In a way very similar to the Extramadura meetings.
===== Other ideas to explore =====
In various places Ubuntu gives more visibility to Debian and can be an
effective way to bring Debian where it never had a chance to enter.
However, in some circles, Ubuntu is taking some visibility away from
Debian: newbies in a LUG are now more likely to install Ubuntu rather than
Debian (or Fedora, FWIW). This is not particularly a problem, not anymore
than it has always been with Knoppix, but can be a source of discontent
One way to address this is to have Debian contribute to and capitalise on
the fame of its derivative distributions. We need to send out
announcements about derivatives claiming that we appreciate the cool
things happening to derivatives when making use of the Debian technology.
(This is not Ubuntu-specific at all: Knoppix/Eduknoppix/*, Skolelinux, the
Munich administration, Debian-BR-CDD, FUSS, Erposs3 are all great
achievements of the Debian community)
====== Actions ======
Ubuntu agrees to implement points 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 and 9.
Debian will work on point 4: we're looking for volunteers here!
Raphael Hertzog will work out with Ubuntu the PTS integration (point 2).
Debian (within the Utnubu project) will try to address points 6 and 7.
Point 10 and 11 clearly needs more discussion to see if we can work out something.
There's no precise timeline. Some points will be addressed soon, other may
come during the year (until next Debconf).
====== Attendants ======
Martin F Krafft
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