Feeds

Debian, Ubuntu patching up rocky romance

Deb supremo speaks as devs link arms in ARM

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Touchy feely time

I used FOSDEM to get a feel about the current state of Debian, and about relations with Ubuntu, recently rocky. According to Lars: "As far as I can see, Debian is doing well and is getting ready to freeze for release later this year, and I don't see anything on the radar to prevent that from happening." And that as to the Ubuntu relationship: "I hear it is getting better all the time." He pointed me to Zack for a more official point of view.

By email, Zack explained where he'd been putting his recent efforts: focusing on package quality "we release when it's ready", freedom, independence, no dictator/'owner'/capture. For the derivative distros, such as Ubuntu, and the 'transitive derivatives' - those two or more steps derived from Debian, recognising that they present Debian's efforts to a much wider audience and can focus on customisation (Ubuntu stands out on both counts).

He talked about making patches flow more easily back up from derivatives, and also being better about spreading the love, giving credit where it's due and remembering that "Free Software" is more important than any one of its individual parts.

I put it to Zack that he's doing a very touchy-feely social interaction job in a very techy world where most of us are not naturally life's extroverts with a high emotional IQ.

Zack told me: "That feeling of yours is correct. And it's also normal for the role of the DPL [Debian Project Lead]: I'm in charge of Debian 'politics', if you want, most of which is about interaction with representative[s] of other projects and communities which form the Free Software ecosystem in which Debian lives. I've been trying to show people why Debian role is important there, bringing facts with me.

"Regarding the techy part, I promised to the Debian community to put on hold my tech activities while in charge as DPL, and I've respected that (which has been very good for my mental health!)"

I asked what specific steps he'd taken to improve the working relationship with Ubuntu: was it management-speak and bonding sessions, or more write access into one another's repositories?

Myths dissolved

So far, he has collected Debian feedback on what was not working; presented it to Ubuntu to dispel some myths; presented a vision of why all communities should "do the right thing"; presented a vision of why Debian is important in part because it is at the root of an ecosystem of distributions; and participated in discussions with the Debian community on interaction with derivatives. This last point has seen Zack dispelling more myths and highlighting the good stuff received from derivatives. He says: "We too often tend to focus on the bad stuff only, ignoring the rest."

His new patch model improves the flow and reduces viscosity, and Lars' rethinking suggests some of the same lower friction and latency. Wouldn't a more incremental and automated approach that includes automatic testing on package/patch submission/update mean that some of those contributions would be able to jump the queue and be injected far closer to, well, Linus' repository in effect?

Zack disagreed. "We really want humans to triage patches and decide if they should be forwarded upstream or not. Not doing so would result in poor quality submission that would upset upstream; it would happen at the Debian-Ubuntu frontier pretty much as it would happen at the Other upstream-Debian frontier.

"What we want to encourage, at all steps, is a culture of doing the right thing for Free Software and work with your upstream so that they adopt your changes – if/when they are worthwhile," he said. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft WINDOWS 10: Seven ATE Nine. Or Eight did really
Windows NEIN skipped, tech preview due out on Wednesday
Business is back, baby! Hasta la VISTA, Win 8... Oh, yeah, Windows 9
Forget touchscreen millennials, Microsoft goes for mouse crowd
Apple: SO sorry for the iOS 8.0.1 UPDATE BUNGLE HORROR
Apple kills 'upgrade'. Hey, Microsoft. You sure you want to be like these guys?
ARM gives Internet of Things a piece of its mind – the Cortex-M7
32-bit core packs some DSP for VIP IoT CPU LOL
Microsoft on the Threshold of a new name for Windows next week
Rebranded OS reportedly set to be flung open by Redmond
Lotus Notes inventor Ozzie invents app to talk to people on your phone
Imagine that. Startup floats with voice collab app for Win iPhone
'Google is NOT the gatekeeper to the web, as some claim'
Plus: 'Pretty sure iOS 8.0.2 will just turn the iPhone into a fax machine'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.