Freexian’s first report about Debian Long Term Support

When we setup Freexian’s offer to bring together funding from multiple companies in order to sponsor the work of multiple developers on Debian LTS, one of the rules that I imposed is that all paid contributors must provide a public monthly report of their paid work.

While the LTS project officially started in June, the first month where contributors were actually paid has been July. Freexian sponsored Thorsten Alteholz and Holger Levsen for 10.5 hours each in July and for 16.5 hours each in August. Here are their reports:

It’s worth noting that Freexian sponsored Holger’s work to fix the security tracker to support squeeze-lts. It’s my belief that using the money of our sponsors to make it easier for everybody to contribute to Debian LTS is money well spent.

As evidenced by the progress bar on Freexian’s offer page, we have not yet reached our minimal goal of funding the equivalent of a half-time position. And it shows in the results, the dla-needed.txt still shows around 30 open issues. This is slightly better than the state two months ago but we can improve a lot on the average time to push out a security update…

To have an idea of the relative importance of the contributions of the paid developers, I counted the number of uploads made by Thorsten and Holger since July: of 40 updates, they took care of 19 of them, so about the half.

I also looked at the other contributors: Raphaël Geissert stands out with 9 updates (I believe that he is contracted by Électricité de France for doing this) and most of the other contributors look like regular Debian maintainers taking care of their own packages (Paul Gevers with cacti, Christoph Berg with postgresql, Peter Palfrader with tor, Didier Raboud with cups, Kurt Roeckx with openssl, Balint Reczey with wireshark) except Matt Palmer and Luciano Bello who (likely) are benevolent members of the LTS team.

There are multiple things to learn here:

  1. Paid contributors already handle almost 70% of the updates. Counting only on volunteers would not have worked.
  2. Quite a few companies that promised help (and got mentioned in the press release) have not delivered the promised help yet (neither through Freexian nor directly).

Last but not least, this project wouldn’t exist without the support of multiple companies and organizations. Many thanks to them:

Hopefully this list will expand over time! Any help to reach out to new companies and organizations is more than welcome.

The problem of distributing applications

A few days ago I watched a Q/A session with Linus Torvalds at Debconf 14. One of the main complaint of Linus towards Linux distribution was the way that distribution ends up using different versions of libraries than what has been used during application development. And the fact that it’s next to impossible to support properly all Linux distributions at the same time due to this kind of differences.

Warning, some internals ahead
And now I just discovered a new proposal of the systemd team that basically tries to address this: Revisiting how we put together Linux Systems.

They suggest to make extensive use of btrfs subvolumes to host multiple variants of the /usr tree (that is supposed to contain all the invariant system code/data) that you could combine with multiple runtime/framework subvolumes thanks to filesytem namespaces and make available to individual applications.

This way of grouping libraries in “runtime subvolumes” reminds me a bit of the concepts of baserock (they are using git instead of btrfs) and while I was a bit dubious of all this (because it goes against quite a few of the principles of distribution integration) I’m beginning to believe that there’s room for both models to work together.

It would be nice if Debian could become the reference distribution that upstream developers are using to develop against Linux. This would in turn mean that when upstream distribution their application under this new form, they will provide (or reference) Debian-based subvolumes ready for use by users (even those who are not using Debian as their main OS). And those subvolumes would be managed by the Debian project (probably automatically built from our collection of .deb).

We’re still quite far from this goal but it will interesting to see this idea mature and become reality. There are plenty of challenges facing us.

My Free Software Activities in August 2014

Distro Tracker and Django 1.7 preparations dominated my month, but the possible switch to git for the python-modules team is also important.

[Continue reading…]

My Free Software Activities in July 2014

Distro Tracker and Django 1.7 preparations dominated my month, but my work for Kali also helped to discover problems in Debian Jessie.

[Continue reading…]

Spotify migrate 5000 servers from Debian to Ubuntu

Spotify Logo

News of migration from Debian to Ubuntu reinforces the importance for Debian to succeed with Debian LTS. Help us to make LTS a success!

[Continue reading…]

My Free Software Activity in June 2014

Debian LTS and tracker.debian.org have been at the center of my work this month.

[Continue reading…]

Tracker.debian.org is live

Maybe do you remember, last year I mentored a Google Summer of code whose aim was to replace our well known Package Tracking System with something more modern, usable by derivatives and more easily hackable. The result of this project is a new Django-based software called Distro Tracker. With the help of the Debian System […]

[Continue reading…]

Convince your company to contribute to Debian Long Term Support

debian-lts-periods

Debian LTS is up but not working well enough yet. Help us improve the situation by convincing Debian-using companies to bring some modest financial support.

[Continue reading…]

My Free Software Activities since January 2014

Assemblée générale 2014 de Debian France

My monthly summary is always a good way to have the latest news of Debian projects that I am working on.

[Continue reading…]

Kickstart the Arabic Translation of the Debian Handbook

I just wanted to highlight that Muhammad Saied, a volunteer translator of the Debian Administrator’s Handbook, is currently running a crowdfunding campaign with Mohamed Amine so that they can complete the Arabic translation that they started. There’s only 6 days left to collect the last $2500… click here to help spread Debian to the Arabic […]

[Continue reading…]