Future of “my” packages in Debian

After having been (again) demoted (timed perfectly to my round birthday!) based on flimsy arguments, I have been forced to rethink the level of contribution I want to do for Debian. Considering in particular that I have switched my main desktop to dual-boot into Arch Linux (all on the same btrfs fs with subvolumes, great!) and have run Arch now for several days exclusively, I think it is time to review the packages I am somehow responsible for (full list of packages).

After about 20 years in Debian, time to send off quite some stuff that has accumulated over time.

KDE/Plasma, frameworks, Gears, and related packages

All these packages are group maintained, so there is not much to worry about. Furthermore, a few new faces have joined the team and are actively working on the packages, although mostly on Qt6. I guess that with me not taking action, frameworks, gears, and plasma will fall back over time (frameworks: Debian 5.88 versus current 5.90, gears: Debian 21.08 versus current 21.12, plasma uptodate at the moment).

With respect to my packages on OBS, they will probably also go stale over time. Using Arch nowadays I lack the development tools necessary to build Debian packages, and above all, the motivation.

I am sorry for all those who have learned to rely on my OBS packages over the last years, bringing modern and uptodate KDE/Plasma to Debian/stable, please direct your complaints at the responsible entities in Debian.

Cinnamon

As I have written already here, I have reduced my involvement quite a lot, and nowadays Fabio and Joshua are doing the work. But both are not even DM (AFAIR) and I am the only one doing uploads (I got DM upload permissions for it). But I am not sure how long I will continue doing this. This also means that in the near future, Cinnamon will also go stale.

TeX related packages

Hilmar has DM upload permissions and is very actively caring for the packages, so I don’t see any source of concern here. New packages will need to find a new uploader, though. With myself also being part of upstream, I can surely help out in the future with difficult problems.

Calibre and related packages

Yokota-san (another DM I have sponsored) has DM upload permissions and is very actively caring for the packages, so also here there is not much of concern.

Onedrive

This is already badly outdated, and I recommend using the OBS builds which are current and provide binaries for Ubuntu and Debian for various versions.

ROCm

Here fortunately a new generation of developers has taken over maintenance and everything is going smoothly, much better than I could have done, yeah to that!

Qalculate related packages

These are group maintained, but unfortunately nobody else but me has touched the repos for quite some time. I fear that the packages will go stale rather soon.

isync/mbsync

I have recently salvaged this package, and use it daily, but I guess it needs to be orphaned sooner or later.

CafeOBJ

While I am also part of upstream here, I guess it will be orphaned.

Julia

Julia is group maintained, but unfortunately nobody else but me has touched the repo for quite some time, and we are already far behind the normal releases (and julia got removed from testing). While go stale/orphaned. I recommend installing upstream binaries.

python-mechanize

Another package that is group maintained in the Python team, but with only me as uploader I guess it will go stale and effectively be orphaned soon.

xxhash

Has already by orphaned.

qpdfview

No upstream development, so not much to do, but will be orphaned, too.


54 Responses

  1. Jose A says:

    Now being a Debian user will be a little more difficult. Anyway, thanks for the past days!

  2. Luc says:

    Hi Norbert, such events are very unfortunate and can deeply effect someone. Do not take things personally, likely other things have been going one in the background.

    I relied on your Plasma OBS build for quite a while now. Pity I will no longer be able to do so. Thank you very much for your efforts!! Over time it helped to move quickly from a months old Plasma version to up-to-date ones w.r.t. upstream. Many times your builds were even faster then a Neon release. Thanks again!

  3. Giovanni "Ivan" Alberotanza says:

    I am very sad and angry for this news. I don’t know what are this “flimsy arguments” and I don’t care, but I think this is a sad day for Debian. I really appreciate your hard work and now I feel very blue.

    • Thanks for your comment. The flimsy (or should I say “filthy”) arguments were the usual – I am incapable of communicating, I am incapable of working together with others, I am incapable of who knows. Usual bs.

      Feel free to let DAM know your opinion on that!

  4. thomas_rossi says:

    This is very sad news. I love Debian, I am using testing and was loving to see the newest KDE packages being integrated so quickly.
    I wonder why all the good things tend to go down the crapper in this mad world, no matter the area of concern…

    • Thanks for your comment. Yes, that was my aim, to bring modern and uptodate KDE/Plasma to all Debian users, stable/testing/unstable. I will try to keep up OBS builds as far as possible. In the meantime, feel free to let DAM know your opinion!

  5. anonymous says:

    Thank you for your work.

  6. Frans says:

    Thank you for your packages. I’ve been a happy user for over a decade. 🙂

  7. Sorry to see this post. Quite unfortunate. Thank you for all your work Norbert. I really enjoyed/relied on your work on KDE packaging. Otherwise too, I’ve had limited interaction with you but have always appreciated it.

    • Hi Ritesh,
      as mentioned, I will try to keep up OBS builds as far as possible, but not sure how fast it will be. Anyway, feel free to let DAM know your opinion!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for all your hard work and best of luck in your future endeavours.

  9. Max Harmathy says:

    Hi Norbert, I think you took the right decision. And welcome to the world of Arch Linux, where packaging is so much less complicated!

    • Thanks a lot for the welcome. For now I only have made updates to some packages that are not at the version I expected them to be. But I hope I can contribute sooner or later some useful things.

      • Max Harmathy says:

        I’m also just maintaining a few packages in the AUR, for example pristine-tar, which I used for debian packaging when I was working for the city of munich on LiMux.

        And I also package a lot of stuff just for myself.

        • Thanks, I will start learning how to do all that! Maybe I come back to bother you with questions.

        • ThinClient says:

          just bail. The online validation of some email-handles isn’t worth the stress. Let somebody else take the burden of those packages.

  10. Thomas Wolff says:

    Let’s take it this way: A good day for the Arch Linux community.

    All the best to you Norbert

    • Hi Thomas,
      thanks for your comment, but I guess I need a bit of time to get knowledgeable how to package in Arch. As a start I have updated a few packages for my personal use (rssguard, ms-edge-beta-bin), but I don’t know by now how I can contribute. Need to read up on all that.

  11. Werner Joss says:

    uh, what a sad beginning of this new year – I had hoped your work would finally end the KDE mess in debian (which always had an outdated KDE until you stepped in).
    now it seems this unfortunate situation might come back and hence force KDE users to quit using debian, too.
    I’m not sure how to proceed now, I think I’ll wait sometime and see how things will evolve.
    In any case, thanks so much, Norbert, for all your work so far – with sad greetings.
    Werner

    • V wie Vendetta says:

      Sad to hear that, but Debian is not what it used to be. Currently, I’m using Devuan, but as it relies on Debian, it will suffer if Debian loses more maintainers.
      Alternatives might be Alpine Linux (slim, secure, efficient) or SerpentOS (a unique modern distribution from Ikey Doherty who seems to favor KDE).

    • Hi Werner,
      thanks for your comment. Yes, waiting a bit how everything evolves is probably a good idea. For now I try to keep the OBS repos alive, but don’t guarantee anything for Debian proper.

      • Werner Joss says:

        ok, Norbert, fine to see that you will (at least for a while) keep the OBS repo alive.
        I understand your reasons to step down with official debian are (again) due to personal problems with some ‘special’ people there and so it is absolutely ok to do so.
        so, I assume your plan to keep the OBS alive shows that you still are interested in KDE and in the debian technical infrastructure – and this is at least something that the KDE users here will much appreciate.
        (side note: a short look at the arch docs gives the impression that this is ok for someone who wants to tailor a linux system to an specific machine which special requirements, but not something you can put on any PC within 1 hour or so.
        so, this reminds me somehow to gentoo, which I had used for a year or so in the past, but then got fed up with the constant changes, incompatibilities and breakages)

  12. Andy Prough says:

    Sad but predictable Norbert. Stale packages litter the landscape now. It was a good run though, really seemed like you were shaking things up, but the inertia of the overall distro is a bit too much to overcome. Looks like Arch is the only workable future now, you are making a good choice. I’m also enjoying Void and Alpine – lot of energy around those two small independent distros now. Keep up the great blog please, it’s always great to hear what new things you are exploring.

    • Marc says:

      “Looks like Arch is the only workable future now”. Looks great, but often breaks, especially when using more complex desktop setups. They should work on stability instead of latest greatest.

      Alpine is nice. Keep it simple.

      • Alpine is nice, but uses musl, which makes it hard to get several binary packages running where no source is available. I use alpine for containers etc, but I’m not sure about using it on the desktop.

    • Hi Andy,
      thanks for all your testing and feedback, that was much appreciated. I will still try to keep the OBS builds running – now that I got rid of the formalities in Debian and many other responsibilities there. Hope you can still test them and let me know!
      All the best!

  13. dpanter says:

    Very sad to hear it Norbert. Your hard work has helped made Siduction (Debian sid base) the absolute best Debian experience with often times fresher packages than Arch… those days look like a thing of the past now. Debian has been my home for so many years. Thanks for making it a good one.
    I don’t want to move to Arch, I don’t really like it or agree with how they do things. I guess it’ll be inevitable some day since Debian continues to struggle with its enormous scope. -_-
    Cheers and good luck!

    • Thanks for your comment! Yes it is not easy, but Debian has more a problem with certain representatives and their exegesis of “right and correct” than the huge number of packages – one could say: Let a few people shoot down the majority! Anyway, feel free to let DAM know your opinion!

  14. Soelv Raeven says:

    Very sad news. It was a great stable up-to-date KDE/Plasma repo.
    Thanks for your great work Mr. Preining and godspeed.

    • Hi Soelv,
      thanks for your comment. I will try to keep OBS running, but you might depose your opinion to the gremia in Debian, in particular DAM and CT.

  15. Ralf says:

    That is a bummer — I just got used to having recent KDE packages in Debian. 😦 Anyway, thanks a lot for all your hard work and good luck for the future!

    I tried googling a bit and found nothing about a 2nd demotion, is there any public record of what happened here?

    • Hi Ralf,
      thanks for your comment. No there is no public record (for now), as all happened on debian-private. In due time I will document the whole process, since I have access to all of debian-private until recently. Time to show what really went on.

  16. Manfred Tremmel says:

    Sad news for us Debian users, but I can understand you. Thanks a lot for all the work you’ve done for us. Maybe I’ll have to look for another distri next year, when I replace my notebook…

    • Thanks for your comment, and sorry for the inconveniences. I don’t have a good solution, but I will try to keep the OBS repos running afa-possible. In the meantime, let DAM know your opinion!

  17. Anonymous says:

    I never liked Arch (I tried to), apart of their wiki it is a mess.
    Hopefully you will find the grass greener there.
    Thank you for your hard work and dedication.

    • I don’t have any deep insights into Arch by now, but looks fine though for me. I don’t doubt the quality of Debian, only the toxicity of some people.

  18. dpanter says:

    Very sad to hear it Norbert.
    Your hard work has helped made Siduction (Debian sid base) the absolute best Debian experience with often times fresher packages than Arch… those days look like they may become a thing of the past now. Debian has been my home for so many years. Thanks for making it a good one.
    I don’t want to move to Arch, I don’t really like it or agree with how they do things. I guess it’ll be inevitable some day since Debian continues to struggle with its enormous scope. -_-
    Cheers and good luck!

    • Thanks for your comment. I will try to keep up the OBS builds, despite being on Arch. You (and hopefully many more) are free to inundate DAM with their complaints!

      • dpanter says:

        Sorry about the double post btw, the first one didn’t show up for some reason. Cheers!

  19. Jonas says:

    Hi Norbert
    Thank you for the work done one KDE in Debian. Your work will be missed

  20. Shmerl says:

    I’m really sorry to hear that. Your repos really helped keeping Plasma for Debian up to date and I don’t mean stable – I use Debian testing. Not sure what I’ll do. Switching to Arch sounds like a too drastic solution for me, but may be setting up an alternative Debian targeted repo would be good if someone from KDE team could help with that.

  21. Debian user says:

    Thank you for all the work and good luck.

  22. Luc says:

    Q: how can I best communicate with DAM?

  23. Luc says:

    Open letter to DAM:

    Dear DAM

    With this writing I want to thank Norbert Preining for his efforts and results of making KDE Plasma and applications available in Debian. Several years ago releases of KDE Plasma, applications, etc in Debian were significantly delayed with respect to upstream releases. Norbert managed to decreases this delay by a magnitude, even such that KDE Plasma for Debian was made available before the release of KDE Neon! Next to this, the quality of his packages were at highest levels. In the occurance of bugs a mail to Norbert was sufficient and almost by return e-mail solved. Nobert served my and many others very well, his communication was clear and swift.

    Unfortunately Norbert communicated that he has been demoted and as a result felt that he should leave Debian and its community.

    Looking at the results achieved and his track record, seen from my perspective, I would appreciate very much, if Nobert´s work could be continued for Debian. With this I kindly ask you to do your utmost best to make this happen!

    Thank you very much,

    • Thomas Florek says:

      Fully agree with your letter of support.
      I am also preparing complaints at the Debian”politicians”

  24. Andy Prough says:

    >”Several years ago releases of KDE Plasma, applications, etc in Debian were significantly delayed with respect to upstream releases.”

    It wasn’t “several years ago”. Debian Bullseye was released August 14, 2021 – 5 months ago. Prior to that, Buster’s plasma-desktop was nearly 3 years out of date, and probably insecure as hell since it’s got all kinds of built-in online services.

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