You should refuse stable

While Donnie thinks about improving Gentoo management, I already said that I’m going to keep myself to the technical side of the fence, working on improving Gentoo’s technical quality, which I find somehow lacking, and not because of a lack of management. Maybe just for the other way around, there are too many people trying to get the management part working and they fail to see that there is a dire need for technical skills work.

Today I started (not to willingly to be honest) the day with a mail from Alexander E. Patrakov who CCed me on a Debian bug about GCC 4.4 miscompilation; while Ryan is the one who has been working on GCC 4.4, I guessed I could do what Alexander suggested, since I got the tinderbox set up.

To do this I simply set up one more check in my bashrc’s src_unpack hook, and used the tinderboxing script that Zac provided me with to run ebuild/unpack phase for all the latest versions of all packages. Now, besides the fact that this has the nice side effect of downloading the sources even of the stuff that was missing up to now, I found some things that I really wouldn’t have expected to.

Like calling econf (and thus ./configure during unpack phase). Which is bad in so many ways, because it disallows to fiddle with the configure in hook, and in my case wastes time when doing just a search. What worries me, though, is not this mistake, but rather the fact that one of the two ebuilds with it I found up to now went stable a few days ago!

Now, I can understand that arch teams are probably swamped with requests, but it would be nice if such obvious mistakes in ebuild were spotted before the stuff goes stable. For instance, I like the way Ferris always nitpicks on the ebuilds, including the test suites, since it actually allows to spot things that might have escaped the maintainer, who’s likely used to the thing, or has a setup where the thing works already. I don’t care if it stops my stable requests for a few days or even months, but if there is a problem I missed, I like to know that beforehand.

So please, you should refuse stable if something is not right with an ebuild, and even if it’s not a regression, for trivial stuff like that you should refuse it without hesitation.