Introductory note: this post can be a bit of a “flamebait”. Please note that’s just an idea that hasn’t been discussed with anyone, just something that transited between my ears, inside the empty box of my head, while I was doing eastern cleanings today (a bit late, I know :P).
I was discussing with a couple of friends some time ago about the fact that Gentoo’s tree breaks quite a few of times and that there are a lot of unmaintained packages (that’s something which come up lately with the new maintainer-*, too), which ends up “rotting” as they aren’t updated regularly.
Today I was reading gentoo-dev, and there’s a discussion about the QA process in Gentoo. I think Ciaran’s comment summarize what I think:
Gentoo’s ‘moving target’ development model is not the development model
used by your typical ‘stable release once or twice per year’ large
software development project.
We aren’t a stable project as the ones developed by big companies, we are a community-driven project, at the end, and while this doesn’t means we must lack any kind of QA (that would drive all of us mad), nobody can’t even require us to do something if we don’t really feel like doing that.
What I’m going to say is something which is true for me, but I think it can be also for other devs.
Most of the packages I maintain, such as netatalk, xdtv, vlc, xine or bsdtar, are packages that I use regularly, most of them daily. I’ll take care of them as it’s something I should do anyway also if I wasn’t their maintainer as I’m using them and I prefer having them the clean as possible.
I used to maintain my own overlay with my own set of ebuilds for the packages I used. That’s how I became a developer, too.
I’m not going to add ebuilds and maintain packages for something I’m not going to use, because I don’t like, I don’t need, or I don’t have the hardware to use them.
That’s true, but I used to have also ebuilds for software I wasn’t using in my overlay. Some of them were just interesting and I had so much time that I started adding them just for the sake of it. Others were just requested by some friends of mine, who asked me to write an ebuild for a beer for example (well I’m abstemious so they haven’t offered me anything anyway, but if I wasn’t :P)..
Sometimes you can just ask politely to someone you have confidence with for an ebuild, in case just offering him “a beer” or an equivalent trade. I’m not saying that this is something that should be made official; actually I think that should not be made official. Nobody should ever have the power of saying to a dev “you must do that”, a part from another senior dev, obviously. Just let that be like a “tip” for the devs, a way to say “Thanks man for your work”.
Obviously this is something that shouldn’t be exploited by devs, there shouldn’t be hurry to add something, or to band-aid something, just because an user is paying for this. The QA should be maintained, it should just be a reward for the work that is already done.
From my POV… I’d be happy to receive a tip for my work, but that’s not important. I don’t really do something I should be tipped for and anyway I much prefer having users help with their work than with money. Submit a good patch or a good ebuild that works fine and I’ll be as thankful as if you gave me 10 euros.
By the way.. if you want to write good ebuilds, you should take a look to the Unofficial Guide started by Ciaran, thanks Tim to continue hosting it 🙂