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Re: [RFA] Your [PACKAGE_NAME] did not pass QA



2009/11/25 Nicolas Mailhot <nicolas mailhot laposte net>:
> 5. The real users of this stuff never contributed a bit to this
> maintenance, avoid answering questions when people ask something about
> it, refused to write packaging guidelines to help others do this work
> for them when (repeatedly) invited to, and react in a very hostile
> manner when they get a single mail asking them to make some effort to
> stop using this stuff (either patching it out, convincing their upstream
> to do this change, or finding another non-core-fonts-using alternative
> to package in Fedora, there are many possible solutions). They were
> *not* asked to help cleaning up the font packages themselves, because,
> after all this years of no action, it's pretty clear none of them want
> to.

I never intended to direct any hostility at you, Matěj, or any other
person.  I apologize for giving such an impression.  I *did* intend to
direct hostility at the script that mails out the nag messages. :-)

But my reaction wasn't just to a single email.  I have felt the noose
tightening around my neck for some time now.  I have posted to this
list before about my woes as a package maintainer, and so to be nagged
about what I have already described as the limitations I am forced to
work within upset me.  I think both of us feel backed into a corner we
don't want to be in.  That's bad, because people tend to become
aggressively defensive in such situations.  I've just dunked my head
in a bucket of cold water to cool myself off, so let me try to give a
dispassionate account of where I'm standing.  Perhaps if we understand
each other's positions better, we can find some way to get what we
both want.

For most of my upstreams, dropping to a single fallback core font is
actually okay, because they are only using fonts at all to pop up an X
window showing what they would otherwise display on the console.  A
single fixed-width font meets that need.

My big problem is with XEmacs.  It uses a variety of core fonts for
different parts of its display.  The display engine itself is very old
code that no current developer understands thoroughly.  An effort was
made a few years ago to port our code to fontconfig + Xft.  It worked
just well enough that some people want it turned on by default, but it
actually still has numerous problems (e.g., what the Release Manager
calls "display turds", where a few pixels remain after a character is
supposedly erased).  Meanwhile, the developers who started that effort
went on to other things and left the code in its unfinished state.  No
current XEmacs developer really has a good handle on that code, or
what needs to be done to finish it.  Therefore, I feel forced to
continue building XEmacs in Fedora with the old core font code.

The options I have been offered are, as I understand it, to:

1. Step up to help out with the maintenance of the core fonts.  I
don't know anything about any font system, legacy or modern, and
precious little about X.  I don't have even the faintest glimmer of a
clue about how to start doing this.

2. Nag my upstream to fix their application.  Well, I AM upstream, and
no current developer knows how to finish this project.  We would
gladly accept help.

3. Fix the application myself.  I don't know how to do this.  My
expertise lies in low-level systems work.  I don't know much of
anything about GUIs in general.

4. Orphan the package.  As an upstream developer, this is my baby
we're talking about.  I would be VERY unhappy if XEmacs were to be
dropped from Fedora.  (Not that I expect anyone else to be concerned
about my happiness; I'm just saying that I'm not very willing to do
this.)

I don't have a good option here.  Given sufficient time, I believe we
can stumble our way to a working fontconfig + Xft setup, and then it
won't be a problem, but right now I can't really do anything about the
situation.  How long do we have before the core font packages are
removed from Fedora?  A month?  A year?  Two years?

> In other words, they collectively expect someone else to do the ugly,
> boring, and time-consuming work on the stuff they use, and BTW this
> someone else should shut up about it and not remind them they behave
> like parasites (let's call things by their real name).

I believe that you just described what every package user expects of a
package maintainer.  That doesn't warrant calling the package users
"parasites".
-- 
Jerry James
http://www.jamezone.org/


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