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Re: Porter roll call for Debian Stretch

On 09/30/2016 09:04 PM, Niels Thykier wrote:
> As for "porter qualification"
> =============================
> We got burned during the Jessie release, where a person answered the
> roll call for sparc and we kept sparc as a release architecture for
> Jessie.  However, we ended up with a completely broken and unbootable
> sparc kernel.

To be fair, this happened because the upstream kernel development for
SPARC came to an almost complete stop. There was basically only David
Miller working on the port which turned out not to be enough.

This isn't the case for PowerPC32 where upstream development is still very
active because it's part of the PowerPC kernel which is maintained by
IBM. PowerPC32 is also still quite popular which is why it still sees
quite some testing in the wild. There are still new PowerPC32 designs
based on embedded CPUs (FreeScale and the like).

As for SPARC, Oracle is actually now heavily investing in Linux SPARC
support, so even SPARC is getting back into shape which is why I hope
we can add sparc64 as an official port soon.

>   That was an embarrassment to the Debian stability and quality
>   reputation that I never - ever - want to repeat.

Well, mistakes happen and while I think it's good and important to learn
from mistakes, we should not dramatize such issues. We have had worse
issues like the OpenSSL entropy bug, for example, and we still managed
to cope with the fallout in a very professional manner.

> (For avoidance of doubt: I want to ensure that release architectures
> "just work(tm)" and I have no desire to blame that volunteer).

I don't think there is any concern regarding the powerpc port in this
regard. wanna-build shows almost 11800 packages that are up-to-date
which is a good indicator that the port is in good shape, both regarding
the toolchain and various source packages which need architecture-specific
adaptations like LibreOffice or JavaScript packages.

On the other hand, some packages dropped support for PowerPC32 like Mono
but this isn't a concern for most users, I would say.

> If I am to support powerpc as a realease architecture for Stretch, I
> need to know that there are *active* porters behind it committed to
> keeping it in the working.  People who would definitely catch such
> issues long before the release.  People who file bugs / submit patches etc.

I agree and I'm actually doing that all the time. I always run unstable
on my machines and constantly check wanna-build for build issues and
report them upstream whenever they occur. I have helped dozens of such
issues on "sh4" and "sparc64", for example.

> If you need inspiration: Have a look at the [automatic testing of
> ppc64el images].  Or the [arm64 machines on ci.debian.net] with
> comparable results to amd64.  This is the sort of thing that inspires
> confidence in the ports for me and I think we should have vastly more of.

I agree that would be nice to have. However, to be fair, we don't have
that type of testing for all release architectures and to my current
knowledge, automated testing of installation images is not a criteria
for an architecture to maintain release status.

My main argument for why we should keep the powerpc port is its
popularity. If we look at the numbers from popcon [1], powerpc
is still the fourth-most-popular port and I think we would disappoint
many users if we were to drop the port for Stretch. Note that while
ports like "arm64" or "ppc64el" receive lots of support, especially
from companies, they still haven't reached the same popularity as the
powerpc port for example. Heck, there are even more users for "hppa"
and "sparc64" which both are just unofficial ports architectures.


> [1] http://popcon.debian.org/

 .''`.  John Paul Adrian Glaubitz
: :' :  Debian Developer - glaubitz@debian.org
`. `'   Freie Universitaet Berlin - glaubitz@physik.fu-berlin.de
  `-    GPG: 62FF 8A75 84E0 2956 9546  0006 7426 3B37 F5B5 F913

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