[maemo-developers] Public maemo repository

From: quim.gil at nokia.com quim.gil at nokia.com
Date: Fri Jul 20 13:51:09 EEST 2007

> But you can give users the choice to select option to install 
> from unstable repository which may contain OS upgrade packages 
> and this practice is ordinary.

We have already announced our plans to allow updated via packages
instead of having to reflash the device. This feature implies the
existence of a public and stable repository at some point, and we will
do it for the benefit of the users. But a non-stable repository is
something different: a tool for developers.

The steps for us to put this maemo unstable repository in place are not
ordinary at all. Create and maintain a public repository is not an
ordinary task in general. There must be clear reasons to do that and a
crystal clear collection of needs and requirements.

The maemo stack has a non-trivial size and variety of components (i.e
think of the licenses and distribution rights). Releasing a stable
version implies a lot of effort already. Don't think in coding only,
there is a lot more. For instance, legal checks of the code that is
being shipped. Moving the software integration to the public implies a
deep reorganization of parts of our process and implies also more work,
no matter how you look at it.

Companies accept to handle more work if they will get more benefit from
the extra work invested (in fact community developers follow this very
same principle most of the times). There is a potential benefit in the
fact of having a maemo unstable repository, but I don't think this
benefit is based on the end users accessing and using that code.

Yes, real testing has a value but we could keep handling this by
releasing binaries and the relevant source code by pieces, as we have
done this week with the Mozilla based browser and the RTCom update. No
need to mount an entire public distro for that.

This unstable repository makes sense if upstream & other 3rd party
developers make use of it to help us and help themselves getting better
code sooner optimizing the work. It also makes sense if platform and
application developers want to invest their time pushing new
functionality to their components, experimenting and stabilizing having
the maemo platform in mind. It makes sense if thanks to this unstable
context the day we release a new IT OS version the end result is better,
and that day there is also a wider collection of stable applications
making the most of the new improvements, documented and ready to be

For instance, these days at GUADEC we are seeing how many developers are
taking an N800 to experiment stuff with their own code. They are using
and creating bleeding edge code, and maemo unstable would be a useful
context for them to innovate. Nokia wants innovation around maemo, so
there is a common interest here. It would help us a lot to know about
developers explaining why they would use this maemo unstable repository,
how it would benefit their work and their software.

There is definitely a value in power users trying fresh code, but it is
not clear the effort to launch and maintain a public distro compensates
this value. The elements that make valuable an unstable repository are
developer quality feedback, insightful bug reports, code contributions,
better sync with upstream and, at the end, innovation at a platform and
application level.

This is evident for your bleeding edge desktop distro of choice. It will
be great to receive specific requests and proposals of developers
showing that this is an evident path for maemo as well. Share your ideas
and plans if we were going to this direction. Don't save details about
current problems and future opportunities. The general idea is
understood. The progress comes from the level of detail we can achieve
through this discussion.

For instance:

- Context: we need to make sure that this project is useful in the wider
context. A big chunk of the maemo code comes from elsewhere. How this
distro relates to i.e. Debian, GNOME Mobile and other upstream projects.
How it helps developers and maintainers instead of becoming just extra
work or hassle. What would you do if you were in our place? We want to
be good citizens and be in good relation with our neighbors.

- Real cases: "Now I'm doing this but with a distro I could do that", "I
want to do this but currently I can't because of that", etc.

- Unstable, testing or what? What is the quality and expectation? Can we
have the distro broken or is it expected to build at any time?

and etc


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