[maemo-developers] Public maemo repository (plus Intro)

From: Loïc Minier lool at dooz.org
Date: Sat Jul 21 17:19:46 EEST 2007

 I'm a Debian Developer participating in Debian GNOME packaging and
 interested in the packaging of maemo apps.

On Fri, Jul 20, 2007, quim.gil at nokia.com wrote:
> [...]                               But a non-stable repository is
> something different: a tool for developers.
> [...]                     There must be clear reasons to do that and a
> crystal clear collection of needs and requirements.

 The first reason Nokia / Maemo might want to offer an unstable
 repository is quite certainly to ease developer participation.  But I
 think there are two things which you're developing at the same time:
 - upstream development of some software (especially Hildon, misc N800
   apps such as the embedded browser, some proprietary modules...)
 - the Maemo distribution(s) (its packaging, integration, themes and

 These are quite different and while you're doing both at the same time,
 one might wonder which one of these you're looking to open the
 development of.

 An unstable repository will always help open the participation in the
 distribution, and it might open the participation in the upstream
 development of the open source software you're upstream of.  On the
 other hand, if your goal is to improve the development of the Hildon
 stack, then perhaps the important focus should be on moving to GNOME's
 hosting infrastructure.

 You mention a "non-stable" (and not "unstable") repository: perhaps you
 already tickled the idea of having a "testing"-style distribution?
   I think this is a really great concept which makes sense in the
 perpetually moving software landscape: you're always receiving the
 latest software close to its upstream release but still after a short
 period where important issues can be raised -- and prevent buggy
 software from reaching the "testing" archive.
   If you do want to experiment with the "perpetually up-to-date and
 almost-stable repository" concept, then I do think you'll need an
 *unstable* repository first.

> 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.

 Hmm I fail to see a huge difference here: instead of doing these checks
 at release time, you would probably do them at the time where you
 include software in the public repository.  This is likely to spread
 the load over time, and I think the other distributions (at least
 Debian and Ubuntu) demonstrated the concept of a "NEW" queue [1] pretty
 well until now.

> 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.

 Having a developer crowd get all updates all the times is very
 different from having to promote each individual software for each new
 major release.  You can get pretty good bug reports -- perhaps with
 patches -- as the result of the combination of all new software, and
 some bugs might only be visible with some combinations of software or
 in some use cases which you might not be directly testing in your
 current process.

 While you discuss the benefits or costs of having an unstable archive
 with unstable software, you seem to be aware of some of the setup
 costs: setting up such an archive, maintaining it etc.  But there's a
 non-technical angle that will need to be addressed as well: who do you
 grant access to such an archive?  Will the archive only be available
 for Nokia folks to upload to, or will anybody be able to join a new
 uploaders community?  How will you select people who are allowed to
 upload software which will be built on your build daemons and which
 will run on the devices of the end-users/end-developers tracking the
 unstable repo?
   IOW, are you interested in creating a new technical distribution tool
 fully handled by the same people currently handling Maemo, or are you
 interested in building a new community with its processes, rules and


[1] http://ftp-master.debian.org/new.html
Loïc Minier

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