on package duplication between Debian and debian-multimedia

Stefano Zacchiroli leader at debian.org
Sat May 5 08:46:35 UTC 2012

Dear Christian,
  as you probably are aware of, there are recurring discussions on the
package duplication between the official Debian archive and the
debian-multimedia.org ("d-m.o" from now on) that you maintain.

AFAIK, the Debian team in charge of maintaining multimedia packages
(that I'm Cc:-ing) is not happy about the duplication and has approached
you about that [1], providing some evidence of the troubles that it
causes to them and to Debian users that also happen to use d-m.o. OTOH
I'm sure you are maintaining d-m.o to provide a useful service to Debian
users, when some of the packages you distribute are not available in
Debian proper.

[1] http://lists.alioth.debian.org/pipermail/pkg-multimedia-maintainers/2012-March/025498.html

Personally, I think that principle is fine, but I'm worried about the
duplication part. Not only due to the troubles that it might cause to
users, but also for the apparent waste of maintenance energies. Energies
that could be put into better use if you and the pkg-multimedia team
could find a way to collaborate, and to do so contributing to the
*official* Debian packaging of the concerned software.

I have no specific opinion on the technical claims that d-m.o causes
trouble to official Debian packages. That might be true or not. Ditto
for your allegations of conflict of interest in the maintenance of
ffmpeg or libav in Debian. But I observe that *in* Debian we do have
mechanisms to solve that kind of issues, if and when they arise. As long
as you keep on doing your work outside Debian instead of raising your
concerns within Debian, we'll have to keep on assuming that what is
being done in Debian is fine and is entitled to the official status that
come with the name "Debian".

Thinking about it, I think we should choose one of the two possible way

1) You and the pkg-multimedia team reach an agreement on
   which-packages-belong-where. One way to settle would be that for
   every package that exist in the official Debian archive, the same
   package should not exist in d-m.o, unless it has a version that does
   not interfere with the official packages in "standard" Debian
   installations. Another way would be to rename packages and sonames.

   I understand that such agreements would give a sort of "advantage" to
   the pkg-multimedia people over d-m.o, but that seems to be warranted
   by the fact that they are doing the official packaging, while you're
   not.  If, as I hope, you could start doing your packaging work
   (wherever possible) within Debian as well, things would be different
   and we could consider solving potential technical conflicts in the
   usual Debian way.

2) You stop using "debian" as part of the domain name of your
   repository, which is confusing for users (e.g. [2,3]). That would
   allow each part to keep on doing what they want in terms of
   packaging, but at least would remove any of the existings doubts
   about the official status of d-m.o.

   [2] http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=660924#20
   [3] http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=668308#47

   I can imagine that would be a painful step for you to take, given the
   well established domain name. But it seems fair to ask you to do so
   if we couldn't manage to find an agreement between you and the
   official Debian packaging initiative of software you're maintaining
   in an unofficial repository.

We could also consider various in-between solutions, such as adding
suitable prominent disclaimers on your website explaining that your
initiative is not affiliated with the Debian Project, that it might
cause technical incompatibilities with official packages, and that the
donations you're collecting are for you personally and not for the
Debian Project.

I hope we can reach an agreement on (some variants of) point (1). I'm
personally convinced d-m.o could offer a very useful service to Debian
users, for packages that are not part of the official archive. But d-m.o
really needs to do so in a way that doesn't get in the way of official
packaging activities, otherwise it will remain a perennial source of
conflicts, to the detriment of both parties.

What do you think?


PS we really want this discussion to be public, so please keep the
   pkg-multimedia-maintainers list Cc:-ed, as requested with my M-F-T
   header. I'll otherwise take the liberty to forward your replies to
   the list myself.
Stefano Zacchiroli     zack@{upsilon.cc,pps.jussieu.fr,debian.org} . o .
Maître de conférences   ......   http://upsilon.cc/zack   ......   . . o
Debian Project Leader    .......   @zack on identi.ca   .......    o o o
« the first rule of tautology club is the first rule of tautology club »
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