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Packages not flowing upstream into Debian

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:08 am
by ChrisUK

Re: Packages not flowing upstream into Debian

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:23 pm
by Adrian
I've noticed that, interesting that the writer switched to MX. Since I contributed to a number of MX packages here are my comments:

1. many packages are not general enough to be used by other distros, MX Repo Management for example is for managing MX Repos doesn't make sense using it in other distros (it could be modified to use other sources but it's the responsibility of whoever wants to use it), sometimes they use a specific environment (MX Snapshot for example requires a specific live environment, it even looks for files in specific places that don't exist in other distros) or some packages are specific to the default MX desktop environment (like MX Default Look is for tweaking our Xfce settings, some function won't work even on MX with KDE or other desktop enviroments). Debian would never accept such packages, nor they should.

2. nobody stops anybody for porting and using whatever code can be used in other distros since the code is freely available under GPL (most of the stuff is in github.com/mx-linux), expecting developers to write and test programs for something they are not interested in developing and jumping through hoops to have their code accepted in other distros is a bit much and I don't think is going to happen. For instance, I'm interested to make tools to help MX users, if those GUI programs could be used successfully in other distros I would be glad, but I didn't design them that way, I didn't test them and don't actually recommend them, I actually recommend against trying to use them blindly in other distros because they can break things, just because you can install a .deb it doesn't mean you should. That's one reason we use mx- in front of our packages, the packages are designed and tested on MX even antiX has to tweak them a bit to their needs.

3. The procedure to have stuff included in MX repos if it's not available in Debian repo is to ask packagers to add the package. If it can be packaged and works fine for us it can be added in MX Testing repo and then it can graduate to regular repos. I assume other distributions have similar systems.

Basically, we write packages to scratch our itch, if it scratches somebody's else itch is very good (and writing generic code that works on as many systems as possible is a good coding policy), but we should not be expected to check if our itch-scratcher works on other people's backs or if other people like to have their backs scratched.

Re: Packages not flowing upstream into Debian

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:07 pm
by timkb4cq
I do agree with his main thrust - that the difficulty of 1) becoming a debian maintainer and 2) getting new packages accepted into debian, results in a lot of debian based software not making its way back upstream. I certainly don't want to work that hard to give stuff away that I've already made free for the taking.

On the other hand, the debian rules and procedures have been developed in a pretty open process over the years and have contributed to the considerable trust debian enjoys from the greater tech community. It is a system that has worked for them. One shouldn't expect them to change it lightly. The requirements are spelled out and can be worked through if one is so inclined and motivated enough.

Re: Packages not flowing upstream into Debian

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:14 pm
by Stevo
Debian does have a team working on getting the Deepin desktop into upstream, and there are already quite a few packages in Sid and Buster. One result of this is that our default Papirus icons are now in Debian testing.

Re: Packages not flowing upstream into Debian

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:29 pm
by whell
How do "Snap" and "Flatpack" fit into this discussion? I'm not a developer but based on what I've read I though the purpose of these tools was to allow developers to create packages that were somewhat distro agnostic, and would allow for wider deployment without the need adapt packages for a specific distro. Relating to the opinion article, would something like, for example, MX Configuration tools ever be available as a Snap?

Re: Packages not flowing upstream into Debian

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:54 pm
by Stevo
Currently most of the tools depends on some specific MX repositories, packages, or files in /etc/skel. Some could probably be adapted to be more generic for any xfce desktop, but not all. But since they are Qt packages instead of GTK, I can't see XFCE really being too enthusiastic about that.

Re: Packages not flowing upstream into Debian

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:01 pm
by Adrian
MX Configuration tools ever be available as a Snap?

No. Snap solves a problem that doesn't exist here, it's not a problem to have the .deb installed, but if the package is checking for example if "mx-installer" is installed and tries to install it (like MX Snapshot does -- just a small example that comes to mind) then it will fail. Why install mx-installer? Because some people might want to have their personal snapshot installed although their MX installation doesn't need mx-installer after is installed (so I think we remove it).

Also the toolkit is important too, we use Qt, some people might not even want to touch it (just like I have no desire to modify GTK packages).