My monthly report covers a large part of what I have been doing in the free software world. I write it for my donators (thanks to them!) but also for the wider Debian community because it can give ideas to newcomers and it’s one of the best ways to find volunteers to work with me on projects that matter to me.
I was in South Africa for the whole week of DebConf 16 and gave 3 talks/BoF. You can find the slides and the videos in the links of their corresponding page:
- Kali Linux’s Experience of a Derivative Tracking Debian Testing
- 2 Years of Work of Paid Contributors in the Debian LTS Project
- Using Debian Money to Fund Debian Projects
I was a bit nervous about the third BoF (on using Debian money to fund Debian projects) but discussed with many persons during the week and it looks like the project evolved quite a bit in the last 10 years and while it’s still a sensitive topic (and rightfully so given the possible impacts) people are willing to discuss the issues and to experiment. You can have a look at the gobby notes that resulted from the live discussion.
I spent most of the time discussing with people and I did not do much technical work besides trying (and failing) to fix accessibility issues with tracker.debian.org (help from knowledgeable people is welcome, see #830213).
I uploaded a new version of zim to fix a reproducibility issue (and forwarded the patch upstream).
I uploaded Django 1.8.14 to jessie-backports and had to fix a failing test (pull request).
I uploaded python-django-jsonfield 1.0.1 a new upstream version integrating the patches I prepared in June.
I managed the (small) ftplib library transition. I prepared the new version in experimental, ensured reverse build dependencies do still build and coordinated the transition with the release team. This was all triggered by a reproducible build bug that I got and that made me look at the package… last time upstream had disappeared (upstream URL was even gone) but it looks like he became active again and he pushed a new release.
I filed wishlist bug #832053 to request a new deblog command in devscripts. It should make it easier to display current and former build logs.
Kali related Debian work
I worked on many issues that were affecting Kali (and Debian Testing) users:
- I made an open-vm-tools NMU to get the package back into testing.
- I filed #830795 on nautilus and #831737 on pbnj to forward Kali bugs to Debian.
- I wrote a fontconfig patch to make it ignore .dpkg-tmp files. I also forwarded that patch upstream and filed a related bug in gnome-settings-daemon which is actually causing the problem by running fc-cache at the wrong times.
- I started a discussion to see how we could fix the synaptics touchpad problem in GNOME 3.20. In the end, we have a new version of xserver-xorg-input-all which only depends on xserver-xorg-input-libinput and not on xserver-xorg-input-synaptics (no longer supported by GNOME). This is after upstream refused to reintroduce synaptics support.
- I filed #831730 on desktop-base because KDE’s plasma-desktop is no longer using the Debian background by default. I had to seek upstream help to find out a possible solution (deployed in Kali only for now).
- I filed #832503 because the way dpkg and APT manages foo:any dependencies when foo is not marked “Multi-Arch: allowed” is counter-productive… I discovered this while trying to use a firefox-esr:any dependency. And I filed #832501 to get the desired “Multi-Arch: allowed” marker on firefox-esr.
See you next month for a new summary of my activities.
thanks a lot for all your work.
I’ve watched the recording of the BOF “Using Debian Money to Fund Debian Projects” and want to add a note or thought on this matter:
I understand all the reluctance to paid work within Debian and and fully agree and think that it is really important to ensure a healthy community. I also agree with the discussion that money should be spend on specific actions, in the best case acting as catalyst or incubator.
However, I think one point was missing in the discussions:
Giving money to Debian to get work done (beside running infrastructure using that money), is for me the only way to contribute to Debian as a project. I use Debian on a daily basis but I’m not able to spend time or effort on it (technically, family…) – so I give money to Debian. And I, for myself, would give even more if specific goals could be supported. I don’t know how many FOSS users out there are in the same situation.
I hope I could make my point clear 🙂
Again, thanks a lot to all DDs, DMs and all other people involved!
Raphaël Hertzog says
Thanks JP for your feedback. I’m curious though, could you give example of specific goals that would make you give more? I wonder how they match with the kind of goals that can be realistically funded.
Thanks for your reply. I’ll elaborate a bit on my thoughts.
First, I want to emphasize that my intention is not to criticize something or someone at all. Debian is what is running on my computers (servers and desktop) and I love it. It is also my firm conviction that only a diverse community-driven project can provide the reliability we all want in the long run.
It is, of course, possible to donate to individual developers and upstreams, and I do so. Also I donate money to Debian via the SPI regularly and using that money for running infrastructure, organzing conferences etc. is great.
I’ve written above comment because I care about Debian and I felt one side or one part of “contributors” was missing in the discussion during the Debconf16 BOF. I understand the notion of “something gets done in Debian if there is enough interest and/or demand”. Here, my attention was caught – unfortunately, giving money is the only way for me (and others?) to contribute to Debian (due to time constraints, technical limitations and so on). Therefore, I would love to see advancements in Debian funded by donated money. I think the idea of spending money to get things done, to “implement” specific goals, is a perfectly valid approach. Of course, it is very important to carefully implement processes which ensure sustainability within the project.
So, my point is not about goals specifically, rather that giving money is a (valid) way to contribute to Debian.
Which areas could be improved is a different discussion and I think we can agree that there is always room for improvement 🙂 As an “end user” working with Debian every day following goals come to my mind:
– revamped project website (I know this item was discussed and closed as “is pretty enough” 🙂 )
– Newcomers outreach
– maintenance of core tools (apt,…)
– reproducible builds
– bug handling in stable
– SELinux integration
– porting of tools to python3
– out of box RTC/Video conferencing
– mobile space in general (tablets…)
IMO, the idea of spending money to get things done is a perfectly valid approach. It is important to carefully implement processes which ensure sustainability and not to endager project-critical parts. I also wish I could dedicate more time and effort to Debian!