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frustrated newcomers AND orphaned packages (Was: Rebuild status of FE5)



As a very newcomer to the Fedora Extras scene, I feel it's important to put in my .02 as an outsider's perspective on this issue AND the "frustrated by the review process" thread that passed through a few days ago. I have been a RedHat / Fedora SysAdmin for going on 4 years now, have rolled my own RPMs to customize the systems for our environment, and even created my own yum repository as a middle man testing ground before deploying updates-released packages. In my free time I love streaming radio, and have written a few Icecast-compatible applications that turned out to work so well I am trying to make the packages public (instead of hardcoded to my machines) and offer them to the community. Anyway, I feel very confident in my ability to create RPMs, love Fedora and its community, and am passionate about getting my packages as publicly available as I can, so I came to Extras, read through the .spec requirements to submit a package for review, and did just that for php-shout (https://bugzilla.redhat.com/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=181445) almost 2 weeks ago.

Unique to my request, however, is that my package requires an upgrade of libshout to at least version 2.0 which was released mid-2003, so doesn't seem like an unreasonable request. libshout, it turns out, is already a package in Extras, owned by Thomas Vander Stichele (thomas apestaart org). After a suggestion by Jochen, I submitted a RFE in bugzilla to update libshout to 2.x, or at least create a libshout2 package that I would be more than happy to maintain (https://bugzilla.redhat.com/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=181523). Thomas, however, has yet to comment on the RFE, and apparently according to the Wiki's FC5Status, he has yet to rebuild ANY of his packages for FC5, making his MIA a burden on us all, not just me.

This is very frustrating for me, because for the past two weeks I've been ready every day to finally get a project approved and actually be able to contribute to Extras. I would love to be able to adopt libshout from Thomas, or as stated create a libshout2 package if an upgrade would break dependencies. AND we're getting closer and closer to devel freeze for FC5, and I want my package to make it into FE5! I've also been watching the broken packages list, and watch cyrus-imapd go by every time, which is a package I use daily and want to see make it into FE5 because cyrus-imapd is a must before I can upgrade my mail server to FC5. Again, a package I would love to adopt and IMHO feel like I could be a good package maintainer, if only I could get off the ground floor.

My point out of all this is that first, I would like to see Extras adopt a "forced adoption" policy (maybe "kidnapping" is a more appropriate term ;) ). SourceForge's policy is that if you feel a project has been abandoned, you can submit a "Project Takeover Request", at which time the SF.net staff sends an email to the package owner telling them of the request, and gives them 2 weeks to respond. If the owner does not respond in those two weeks, your request is approved and you become the project's new owner, supplanting the old owner, and the code is yours to steer wherever you want. Second, I am obviously a +1 for the "auto orphan" policy Aurelien proposed below, but I'd also take it a step further and auto-orphan packages that have RFEs unanswered for x days. I understand that this is next-to-impossible to automate, but if a written policy is at least put in place, then a developer like myself who puts in an RFE that goes unanswered can point back to the policy after x days have expired and request an adoption.

I'd love to be able to get started contributing back to the Fedora that has treated me so well over the years... but all my hands are tied! -Brandon

Aurelien Bompard wrote:
Hi Thorsten.

Thanks for those status reports.

So, how to proceed? Bug the maintainers with a E-Mail directly? Probably
a good idea. I'll try to write a script that does this.

This is the best idea at the moment IMHO. Those people may read the lists
through an NNTP gateway, and have reasons not to fire up their news client
(not the habit, too much work, etc...).
But then, you might say, will they have time to rebuild their packages ?
Anyway, a direct mail reminder will probably help a lot.

But we have not much time until FC5 is shipped. Do we simply want to
ignore that a lot of packages were not rebuild until then? Or do we want
to let a script rebuild the rest of the packages?

About 3/4 of my packages rebuilt correctly on FC5 IIRC, so that still leaves
a lot of work to have packages build with gcc4.1, updated libs, etc...
Maybe have the script rebuild a maintainer's packages if he hasn't answered
the direct mail by Wednesday ?

More important: How do we find out if these 43 people are still Fedora
Extras maintainers?

The direct mail will help there too.

And I suspect that some others from those 43 maintainers probably should
face that they have a lot of other, more important work to do and should
probably orphan their packages so that other interested people can take
them over.

Maybe automatically orphan the packages if they are not rebuilt for the 6th
of Mars ? (date of "Absolute devel freeze") ? That leaves 9 days to rebuild
them and fix the problems. Maybe it's too short, it depends on how many
packages fail to rebuild automatically. We'll see.
Ah, and they need to find new maintainers quickly :(
If no one steps up I can help rebuilding them for FC5, so we'll be able to
wait after FC5 is released to find new maintainers.

Suggestions how to solve this whole mess in the short and in the long
term welcome.

Having not-rebuilt packages being automatically orphaned on test3 of each FC
release seems like a decent long-term solution to me.

Aurélien



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