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Bug#924548: gnome-core: does not actually install a desktop environment on s390x

Package: gnome-core
Version: 1:3.30+1
Severity: serious
Justification: we should make a decision one way or another before release

I recently changed gnome-core to install gnome-flashback instead of
GNOME Shell on s390x, because: GNOME Shell is uninstallable on s390x, due
to mozjs60 not being functional there; testing migration requires task
packages to be installable; and the release team were not willing to waive
that requirement for s390x, because d-i maintainers were concerned that
d-i might do the wrong thing if asked to install an uninstallable task.

However, the observant will realise that gnome-flashback is
not the package I meant. I should have added a dependency on
gnome-session-flashback (a complete GNOME-2-derived desktop with a
panel and a window manager), not on gnome-flashback (a helper for
gnome-session-flashback that doesn't do anything particularly useful
on its own). (I only found this out because I happened to have tried
installing GNOME Flashback on a test VM while trying to reproduce an
unrelated bug.)

It gets worse: gnome-session-flashback requires gnome-panel, which is
unbuildable on s390x, because it build-depends on gdm. This can be worked
around with a sufficiently horrible hack (see below), but I can't help
questioning whether we should.

Note that I can't actually test any of this, because (real or virtual)
s390x machines normally don't have any displays, and after spending
a significant amount of time setting up a s390x qemu virtual machine
I was unable to get XDMCP forwarding to work. If there are people who
care about graphics on s390x machines, perhaps they can explain how?

By this point I feel as though I have already put orders of magnitude
more time and effort into GNOME on s390x than it deserves: GNOME is a
desktop environment, designed to be run on desktops and laptops, not
on $15K mainframes with no displays. In particular, I cannot justify
putting time and effort into fixing the remaining failing tests in mozjs60
(although s390x porters and JavaScript enthusiasts are of course welcome
to do so, and I'm happy to point people in the right directions to avoid
duplicate work).

Options are:

* Deliberately stop trying to install a full desktop environment on s390x:
  make gnome-core stop depending on lightdm, gnome-session, gnome-shell
  or gnome-shell-extensions on s390x, with no replacement. This
  would effectively mean that gnome-core means "the core GNOME apps,
  but no desktop environment" on s390x, and "the core GNOME desktop"
  everywhere else.

* Hack gnome-panel to build successfully on s390x, for example with
  and apply s/gnome-flashback/gnome-session-flashback/ to the gnome-core
  dependencies. This might need extra work if gnome-panel is not the only
  missing package.

* Close this bug and leave gnome-core as-is. I suspect that no end user
  will report a bug about its current broken state on s390x for the entire
  lifetime of buster, at which point we can use this as evidence that
  nobody actually wants desktop tasks on mainframes. (I am not entirely
  serious about this being an option, but not entirely joking either.)

Does anyone have any input on this?


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