Supporting distro re-packaging (Was: [sclug] Linux Apprentice Wanted !)

Simon Huggins huggie at
Tue Nov 7 16:03:20 UTC 2006

On Tue, Nov 07, 2006 at 10:38:16AM +0000, Roland Turner (SCLUG) wrote:
> Hmm. I've not heard of this guy before, but he appears to have a bit of
> an attitude problem; the distros don't make the changes that they make
> arbitrarily, they make them to satisfy norms and interfaces that apply
> across thousands of packages within the distro. In the particular case
> of Apache (and other web servers) on Debian, the evolution to the
> current situation was slow and deliberate. The essential problem that it
> solves is to be able, reliably, to turn modules on and off in installer
> scripts, rather than by hand; the other changes are a straightforward
> consequence of those changes.

> The solution to his problem is either of:

> - learn to say "no" and mean it (and deal with the fact that people will
> get cross about that)

> or

> - provide a Debian-ised build and instructions for sources.list and
> apt.conf to cause Apache's build to be used in preference to Debian's
> (and still learn to say "no", but only to those who are seeking support
> from for's build)

> To demand that the distros undermine their own raison d'etre to save
> him having to learn to say "no" is more than a little unreasonable.

I think Nick has overstated his case too.

The answer to the question asked by the user in that case was given by
#apache people (i.e. turning off directory indexing) and the only bits
that are then needed in addition are "go talk to #debian about how
they've moved the config files around/disabled them/whatever it was in
this case".  Talk about distributions "mutilating" and "mangling"
installations as per the advice on #apache seems a little extreme.

	[Mark Shuttleworth's] answer, in similarly general terms, was
	that Ubuntu would expect to be the first point of support, but
	he would hope that upstream providers would also get involved.
	Sorry, but that just doesn't work.

Er, it does everywhere I've looked.  Sure issues get passed around and
some times upstream are the experts and some times the distro people are
the experts that are needed but issues do get solved despite this
perceived problem.  Upstream and packagers need to work together to
solve issues and upstream can't just drop all responsibility for their
software just because they don't run that distro.

I would invite users to go via their distro's support mechanisms first
but by all means talk to upstream directly about software they wrote if
you have more than a very simplistic query.

(A solution here could also be as simple as the Debian apache team
getting someone to sit on whichever #apache that was directing people to
the right places for information as well but to be fair they probably
have better things to do)


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