Collaboration with Debian: a balanced proposal.

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Collaboration with Debian: a balanced proposal.

Lucas Nussbaum
Hi,

After the recent threads on the Debian lists and discussions with both
MOTUs and Debian developers, I worked on this proposal regarding Debian
collaboration that aims at satisfying both parties (Debian and Ubuntu).

I'm posting this first on ubuntu-devel and ubuntu-motu to get the first
comments, and will then move to Utnubu-discuss.

---------------------------------------------------------------------
== Introduction / Rationale ==
There is a lot of disagreement between Debian and Ubuntu regarding the way
Ubuntu "gives back" to Debian.
 * Debian developers would like Ubuntu developers to file bug reports on
 the Debian BTS about issues they fix in Ubuntu.
 * Ubuntu developers, especially MOTUs, are already very busy and
 understaffed, and can't really handle additional work.
 * Debian developers feel that Ubuntu "steals" the Debian packages by
 taking them and only rarely giving back.
 * Ubuntu developers feel that the bugs they submitted on the BTS are often
 left unanswered and ignored, or not dealt with promptly enough.

== Scope of this proposal ==
This proposal deals with packages which are (or might be in the future)
slightly modified in Ubuntu, not those which are closer to a fork in
Ubuntu. The packages which are only slightly modified most likely reside in
the universe and multiverse components of Ubuntu[0], but some of the packages
in main can qualify too.

[0] https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UbuntuDemystification

Some packages are largely modified in Ubuntu (think of GNOME, for example)
and can't be easily fed back. The feedback process must then be handled
directly by the Ubuntu developer who made the changes. Such changes mostly
are in ''main'' packages, and ''main'' Ubuntu developers have been quite
good at feeding patches back to Debian. If needed, the Debian maintainer can
contact the Ubuntu developer responsible for the changes to find a way to
import the changes in the Debian package.

The goal of this proposal is to make collaboration a win-win process for
both Debian and Ubuntu. To achieve this, we ask the Debian maintainers to
choose between two ''modes'' for their packages.

We also introduce a team called DCT (Debian Collaboration Team) here.
Members of this team are Ubuntu Developers (or would-be developers)
interested in collaborating with Debian.

=== Mode 1 : Passive giving back ===
This is what is currently in place. Debian maintainers have access to
patches[1] for their packages as soon as the modified packages get into
Ubuntu.

Ubuntu developers file bugs on the Debian BTS on a volunteer basis (when
they have time, and not for every issue).

[1] http://people.ubuntu.com/~scott/patches/

=== Mode 2 : Feedback handled by the Debian Collaboration Team (DCT) ===

Debian maintainers willing to have a more fruitful collaboration with Ubuntu
contact the DCT to switch to this collaboration mode for all or some of
their packages. This mode includes duties for both parties.

==== Rights and Duties for the DCT ====
 * The DCT reports all valuable changes (for Debian) in the Ubuntu
 package to the Debian BTS, in a reasonable time (depending on the team
 workload and manpower).
 * The DCT has the right to refuse to monitor a package if it considers
 the package has been ''forked'' in Ubuntu (changes wouldn't be of interest
 anymore to the Debian maintainer).

==== Rights and Duties for the Debian maintainer ====
 * The Debian maintainer reacts promptly to all input by the DCT.
 This mean acknowledging bug reports and commenting them in days, not weeks.
 * The Debian maintainer has to upload a new package with the changes as
 soon as possible to keep the divergence between Debian and Ubuntu as low
 as possible. This means weeks, not months.
 * The Debian maintainer can refuse patches from Ubuntu. However, of course,
 he must make the reasons clear in the bug log.

Rights and Duties for the DCT and for Debian maintainers are of course
subject to the usual rules:
 * We all are volunteers, and have lives. This sometimes creates additional
 delays.
 * Delays indicated above are subject to conditions (waiting for a testing
 transition or freeze in Debian, holidays, UpstreamVersionFreeze or
 FeaturesFreeze in Ubuntu ...).

== How would the DCT work ? ==
 * By monitoring new versions of the Ubuntu packages being uploaded to
 Ubuntu and reviewing the changes in them.
 * By being pinged by other Ubuntu developers about specific issues. (by
 IRC or mail, making it as easy as possible for the Ubuntu developer. Note
 that pinging DCT is not mandatory for Ubuntu developers.)

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Advantages for Ubuntu Developers :
- those not willing to deal with Debian can just ignore Debian
- those willing to help Debian, but not knowing how to do so, can rely
  on others
- good way to stop the "Ubuntu doesn't give back" claims
- Ubuntu developers who prefer to interact directly with DD can continue to
  do so: going through DCT is not mandatory!

Ideally, I see the DCT as being a group of developers with different
skills. We would need somebody familiar with GNOME, a KDE expert, a Python
developer, etc.

What do you think ?

Do you think it would work ?

Do you see some open issues not addressed here ?

Would you be part of this DCT ?

Lucas

PS: "DCT" doesn't really sound good, but "Naibed" is really not an option
...
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Re: Collaboration with Debian: a balanced proposal.

Gustavo Franco
On 1/19/06, Lucas Nussbaum <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hi,
>
> [...]
>
> What do you think ?
>
> Do you think it would work ?
>
> Do you see some open issues not addressed here ?
>
> Would you be part of this DCT ?
>

Hi Lucas,

As a MOTU hopeful and Debian Developer, i'm glad you're interested on
this subject too. I think your proposal would work with minor
enhancements. I'll split my comments in two sections, Ubuntu
Developers and MOTUs:

* MOTUs
- I believe that a MOTUDct, mainly with Debian Developers involved and
interested in organize Ubuntu universe and contribute back to Debian
the changes, would work. It isn't only about merge packages but report
bugs too. I think it's just a matter of receive a ok from CC or just
ogra and dholbach (?!), document it on the wiki and ask for volunteers
in utnubu.

* Ubuntu Developers
- It seems to be the core of the problems coming from that
debian-devel threads. It would be better to hear the feedback from
Canonical on this first, but i'll take the risk and suggest that they
hire a person to work with MOTUDct, doing the same thing but just for
main related issues. It's clear that a volunteer (or more) in MOTUDct
could do the same, but it's all about "we're contributing back to
Debian" thing.

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Re: Collaboration with Debian: a balanced proposal.

Lucas Nussbaum
On 19/01/06 at 18:50 -0200, Gustavo Franco wrote:

> As a MOTU hopeful and Debian Developer, i'm glad you're interested on
> this subject too. I think your proposal would work with minor
> enhancements. I'll split my comments in two sections, Ubuntu
> Developers and MOTUs:
>
> * MOTUs
> - I believe that a MOTUDct, mainly with Debian Developers involved and
> interested in organize Ubuntu universe and contribute back to Debian
> the changes, would work. It isn't only about merge packages but report
> bugs too. I think it's just a matter of receive a ok from CC or just
> ogra and dholbach (?!), document it on the wiki and ask for volunteers
> in utnubu.

I didn't see DCT as a sub-team of MOTU, because DCT would probably
handle main packages too. I don't think it's needed either : we need to
keep it simple so a Debian developer understand how things work at the
first glance. Reading the debian-devel thread, it seems that several DDs
already have problems understanding the way MOTUs "maintain" packages in
universe, and not adding to this complexity would be great.

> * Ubuntu Developers
> - It seems to be the core of the problems coming from that
> debian-devel threads. It would be better to hear the feedback from
> Canonical on this first, but i'll take the risk and suggest that they
> hire a person to work with MOTUDct, doing the same thing but just for
> main related issues. It's clear that a volunteer (or more) in MOTUDct
> could do the same, but it's all about "we're contributing back to
> Debian" thing.

Of course, it would be an excellent way of showing that Canonical cares
about Debian. Maybe an employee could be asked to work on DCT
coordination as a part of his job ? Anyway, we don't really need this
for now. What we need is more feedback from ubuntu-devel@ before I can
forward the proposal to other lists (read: Debian's) and get more heated
feedback ;)
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Re: Collaboration with Debian: a balanced proposal.

Stephan Hermann
Hi Lucas,

On Saturday 21 January 2006 00:29, Lucas Nussbaum wrote:

> On 19/01/06 at 18:50 -0200, Gustavo Franco wrote:
> > As a MOTU hopeful and Debian Developer, i'm glad you're interested on
> > this subject too. I think your proposal would work with minor
> > enhancements. I'll split my comments in two sections, Ubuntu
> > Developers and MOTUs:
> >
> > * MOTUs
> > - I believe that a MOTUDct, mainly with Debian Developers involved and
> > interested in organize Ubuntu universe and contribute back to Debian
> > the changes, would work. It isn't only about merge packages but report
> > bugs too. I think it's just a matter of receive a ok from CC or just
> > ogra and dholbach (?!), document it on the wiki and ask for volunteers
> > in utnubu.
>
> I didn't see DCT as a sub-team of MOTU, because DCT would probably
> handle main packages too. I don't think it's needed either : we need to
> keep it simple so a Debian developer understand how things work at the
> first glance. Reading the debian-devel thread, it seems that several DDs
> already have problems understanding the way MOTUs "maintain" packages in
> universe, and not adding to this complexity would be great.

Reading the updated version of http://www.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/relationship there
is no need for the main part.

Quote:
"When a bug is reported in the Debian bug tracking system and then later fixed
in Ubuntu, the fixes are communicated back directly to the Debian developers
responsible for that package in Debian and record the patch URL in the debian
bug system. The long term goal of that work is to ensure that patches made by
the full-time Ubuntu team members are immediately also included in debian
packages where the debian maintainer likes the work."

I think that covers most of "main".

>
> > * Ubuntu Developers
> > - It seems to be the core of the problems coming from that
> > debian-devel threads. It would be better to hear the feedback from
> > Canonical on this first, but i'll take the risk and suggest that they
> > hire a person to work with MOTUDct, doing the same thing but just for
> > main related issues. It's clear that a volunteer (or more) in MOTUDct
> > could do the same, but it's all about "we're contributing back to
> > Debian" thing.
>
> Of course, it would be an excellent way of showing that Canonical cares
> about Debian. Maybe an employee could be asked to work on DCT
> coordination as a part of his job ? Anyway, we don't really need this
> for now. What we need is more feedback from ubuntu-devel@ before I can
> forward the proposal to other lists (read: Debian's) and get more heated
> feedback ;)

The right way to get an agreement on this, is to forward all those things
towards the TB, and to have a vote on that.

Regards,

\sh

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Re: Collaboration with Debian: a balanced proposal.

Lucas Nussbaum
On 21/01/06 at 13:32 +0100, Stephan Hermann wrote:

> Hi Lucas,
>
> On Saturday 21 January 2006 00:29, Lucas Nussbaum wrote:
> > On 19/01/06 at 18:50 -0200, Gustavo Franco wrote:
> > > As a MOTU hopeful and Debian Developer, i'm glad you're interested
> > > on this subject too. I think your proposal would work with minor
> > > enhancements. I'll split my comments in two sections, Ubuntu
> > > Developers and MOTUs:
> > >
> > > * MOTUs - I believe that a MOTUDct, mainly with Debian Developers
> > > involved and interested in organize Ubuntu universe and contribute
> > > back to Debian the changes, would work. It isn't only about merge
> > > packages but report bugs too. I think it's just a matter of
> > > receive a ok from CC or just ogra and dholbach (?!), document it
> > > on the wiki and ask for volunteers in utnubu.
> >
> > I didn't see DCT as a sub-team of MOTU, because DCT would probably
> > handle main packages too. I don't think it's needed either : we need
> > to keep it simple so a Debian developer understand how things work
> > at the first glance. Reading the debian-devel thread, it seems that
> > several DDs already have problems understanding the way MOTUs
> > "maintain" packages in universe, and not adding to this complexity
> > would be great.
>
> Reading the updated version of
> http://www.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/relationship there is no need for the
> main part.
>
> Quote: "When a bug is reported in the Debian bug tracking system and
> then later fixed in Ubuntu, the fixes are communicated back directly
> to the Debian developers responsible for that package in Debian and
> record the patch URL in the debian bug system. The long term goal of
> that work is to ensure that patches made by the full-time Ubuntu team
> members are immediately also included in debian packages where the
> debian maintainer likes the work."
>
> I think that covers most of "main".

This applies to bug reported first in the Debian BTS, and then fixed in
Ubuntu. For those bugs, the patches are sent to the BTS. But the quote
says nothing about bugs first reported in Malone, for example.

I know that the situation is much better for main than for universe.
However :
- some main packages are maintained like universe packages, with very
  few changes.
- DDs have a problem understanding the difference between main and
  universe. While it is easy to understand from the inside, it is more
difficult from the outside. I therefore prefer not to base my proposal
on a different cases for main and universe.

> > > * Ubuntu Developers - It seems to be the core of the problems
> > > coming from that debian-devel threads. It would be better to hear
> > > the feedback from Canonical on this first, but i'll take the risk
> > > and suggest that they hire a person to work with MOTUDct, doing
> > > the same thing but just for main related issues. It's clear that a
> > > volunteer (or more) in MOTUDct could do the same, but it's all
> > > about "we're contributing back to Debian" thing.
> >
> > Of course, it would be an excellent way of showing that Canonical
> > cares about Debian. Maybe an employee could be asked to work on DCT
> > coordination as a part of his job ? Anyway, we don't really need
> > this for now. What we need is more feedback from ubuntu-devel@
> > before I can forward the proposal to other lists (read: Debian's)
> > and get more heated feedback ;)
>
> The right way to get an agreement on this, is to forward all those
> things towards the TB, and to have a vote on that.

My goal is not to seek approval by the TB, but to improve the proposal
here, and then go to other mailing lists, like Utnubu, to discuss it.

I've put the proposal on the Wiki. see https://wiki.ubuntu.com/DCT
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