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Re: Question to Stefano, Steve and Luk about the organisation into packaging teams.

Hi Patrick,

On Sat, Mar 21, 2009 at 01:43:16PM +0100, Patrick Schoenfeld wrote:
>In Debian we have some packages that are either by default on every
>system or are commonly expected to be found on Debian systems. Such
>tools could be called the core of our system, because they are most
>commonly used on a Debian system. Such packages include coreutils, gzip,
>grep, hostname, initscripts, obviously all the tools that make up a
>Debian system like dpkg, at, cron and some more. Short said: More or
>less all packages with a priority of Standard or higher, although one
>would need to think about this scope wrt to the following proposal.
>Some of these packages are very well maintained and others.. well,
>bug numbers sometimes speak for themselves. For these packages we have
>that cool text on the PTS pages: "The package is of priority standard
>or higher, you should really find some co-maintainers." which brought
>me on this at all. What I thought about when I read that is: "HaHaHa,
>we are kidding on us own, because we recommend something to us, what
>should actually be the default (for this type of packages).
>Thats why I thought it would eventually be a good idea to form a core
>team, meaning a team of a bunch of people (10-20?), with wide-spread
>knowledge and known to have enough free time (e.g. people who have > 50
>packages and aren't able to keep up with the bug reports in their own
>packages wouldn't qualify) that gets the job to (co-)maintain all these
>packages that are very important to us. It doesn't mean that the
>existing maintainers are taken away the packages, because they could
>still stay the maintainers, but obviously some of these packages are not
>easily maintainable by one person.
>What do you think about such a proposal?

I'd be quite worried about the blocking potential of such a move,
actually. One of the reasons that Debian scales so well is that *most*
of the work we do day-to-day does not depend on the work of a small
core team. That means that we can continue to work independently and
get the major package work done without having to co-ordinate
everything and share decisions all the time. If we *did* end up with
such a core team, then I'd bet money on them always being over-worked.
It wouldn't start that way, but it would get there. Your people with
"enough free time" quickly wouldn't have. :-)

Of course, there are places where our work does need co-ordination,
like before a release. And those are the places where we often end up
needing large teams doing a lot of work just to do that co-ordination.

I'm much more convinced about encouraging people to set up individual
teams for core packages, and then finding enough people to help cover
the needs of those packages. More keen NMs are always good here...

Steve McIntyre, Cambridge, UK.                                steve@einval.com
"I can't ever sleep on planes ... call it irrational if you like, but I'm
 afraid I'll miss my stop" -- Vivek Dasmohapatra

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