Should we care about the numbers or the quality?

July 11, 2010 · Posted in Gentoo, Linux · 16 Comments 

Today, I am gonna rant a little bit wrt the QA status of many packages residing in Gentoo portage tree.  Few of my fellow colleagues think that all that matters is the # of ebuilds in our portage tree. Adding more and more ebuilds in our tree is a good way to prove that Gentoo is an active and cutting-edge distro. Sorry, but you failed :-)

Looking through our QA bugs[1] it looks pretty obvious ( at least to me ) that the ebuild QA level has lower priority than it should be. The most common bugs are

  • packages that don’t respect the user CC/C{XX}FLAGS/LDFLAGS
  • wrong dependencies ( listed build dependencies as runtime dependencies )
  • packages that bundle external libraries == security problems
  • Badly written ebuilds. Missing || die statements, install precompiled binaries to /usr
  • etc etc etc

Whilst I do understand that it is not possible to always spot these type of QA errors, this looks quite bad to the rest of the community. Honestly I would prefer a much lower ebuild number on portage but with QA level than having broken ebuilds everywhere just to claim that “Gentoo has the latest version of each package” available.

The lack of manpower problem is more than obvious, so do not be afraid to ask help from our user community. Let them become proxy-maintainers[2] for the packages that you have little or no interest  in maintain them anymore.  Teach some of them to write proper ebuilds and/or bring them to developer family by mentoring them. Furthermore, if you do not care for a package anymore, just say it out loud and let somebody else maintain it :)

[1]:  QA bugs

[2]: proxy-maintainer

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