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Re: That ole Livna Problem/That ole VLC Problem



On Thursday 17 January 2008, Les Mikesell wrote:
> Exactly, and that just doesn't happen.  Is it just that I know more
> about the RPM situation or is this better organized over in the .deb world?

Ubuntu, to pick one debian derivative, solves this by basically not having any 
third party repositories.  The main repo is so large, and so all-inclusive, 
that a third party repo isn't terribly useful.  Yes, you do have Universe 
versus multivers and kindred issues, but those are very minor compared to 
ATrpms mixing with RPMforge and livna (and PlanetCCRMA, et al).

In my opinion, this is due in part to the Debian project's early recognition 
of the dependency issues and building an early tool to automatically deal 
with it.  

It is also due in part (and probably a larger part) to the Debian project 
having always been very open and pretty well organized for new packagers in 
the core system; I know, for instance, back when I first began packaging 
RPM's for PostgreSQL in 1999, that the Debian PostgreSQL packages were 
already mature, and already in the main Debian repository, and already 
community maintained, and already 'aptable' with automatic depsolving and 
downloading through apt. In 1999.  Now, there was a PostgreSQL RPMset already 
in Red Hat Linux, but there were some issues with it.  And it needed a 
version upgrade, among a few other things.

This was in Red Hat 6.1 days.  Long before yum existed.  Long before the 
Fedora project became a real project; longer before the core Red Hat Linux 
system got any packages from outside-of-Red-Hat packagers (even in my case, 
where my PostgreSQL packages were used as a base for the RH packages, there 
was still an internal Red Hat Employee packager).

Debian has to a large extent avoided the third party repository problems 
because it has always been doable (not necessarily easy, but doable) for any 
potential packager to join the first-party package repository and contribute.  
Instead of potential packagers who are just interested in maintaining a few 
packages having to set up the complete infrastructure to distribute those 
packages as well as build those packages, Debian provides the infrastructure 
and packagers just package.

Fedora has the problem because Red Hat Linux wasn't accessible to potential 
outside of Red Hat first party packagers, and has been very late to the open 
process party.  The second-party packagers (rolling their own packages for 
themselves) decided to make their packages available to the public (like my 
own PostgreSQL packages) and they became third-party packagers.  

Had the possibility existed for outside packagers to become first party 
packagers in RHL before the third party repos were started (including what 
eventually became the 'blessed' third-party repo, fedora.us), the likelihood 
of there being extensive third party repos today would be less (of course, 
you'll always have the 'forbidden software' repository(ies), but those are 
not extensive; ATrpms and DAG/RPMforge are extensive repos).

This is one case where openness of the process was more important than the 
openness of the source code for the user experience, IMO.  And this is one 
case where Fedora is late to a very important party, unfortunately.

I for one am glad that it is now possible for people to become first party 
packagers for Fedora; this is marvelous; the merge of Extras into the main 
Fedora is incredible and very open; the move to the koji/bodhi/mock 
infrastructure away from the proprietary beehive setup is applaudable.

But it is too late to prevent the third party mixing problems that have 
spawned such features as yum priorities and similar, which shouldn't have 
been necessary.

The only reason I have ever had for thinking about switching from Fedora to a 
Debian-based system was the smooth repository with a massive number of 
packages.  I have stuck with Fedora.  I don't regret that decision.  (For all 
the integrated repository goodness, Ubuntu has its own serious problems that 
prevent me from switching; I'll stick with the demon I know).

And I love the new open process, even with the CLA needed.  Fedora is getting 
there; just wish it had been there in 1999, that's all.
-- 
Lamar Owen
www.pari.edu


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