(I don't speak for the GNOME team, or for Josselin, who is officially this package's maintainer; please don't assume I do.)
On Sun, 08 Apr 2018 at 22:19:43 +0300, Adrian Bunk wrote: > I hereby declare my intent to adopt gconf. Thank you for offering to take over this package. Do you also intend to adopt these related packages? - src:gconf-editor (which depends on gconf and is useless without it; currently maintained by the GNOME team) - src:orbit2 (orphaned library needed by gconf) - src:libidl (orphaned library needed by orbit2) - various language bindings for gconf All are equally dead upstream (or more so in some cases) as far as I can tell. Do you use software that relies on gconf yourself/are you able to test it? I recently converted gconf's svn repository to git, <https://salsa.debian.org/gnome-team/gconf>, along with a batch of other svn repositories where the first round of imports via reposurgeon had failed. Anything else that is currently maintained by the GNOME team (notably gconf-editor) should be in git too, and that's almost certainly a better starting point than the svn repositories currently listed in their Vcs-* fields. I don't think orbit2 and libidl were ever maintained by pkg-gnome, and they probably did't have a VCS before they were orphaned. A gnome-team Owner or a salsa sysadmin might be able to move gconf into another namespace on salsa while leaving redirects behind, if that's something you'd find useful. > This is about keeping software that is long dead upstream but > has reverse dependencies longer on life support. My concern about keeping packages like gconf in Debian, rather than removing them, is that keeping significant amounts of unmaintained software in Debian is an ongoing time- and attention-sink for contributors doing archive-wide QA, and a distraction for users looking for software of interest. For contributors: every time a package that hasn't had upstream development for a few years fails to build during a transition, or needs fixes for a new architecture, or has RC bugs that someone looks at during a BSP, it takes a little bit more of several contributors' time and attention (even if the only attention it gets is to look at the package, realise it hasn't changed significantly in a decade, and decide to prioritize something different). Software that depends on gconf isn't *directly* an indication of something terribly bad, but it's reasonably well correlated with the dependent software also being unmaintained or undermaintained upstream. Each individual package blocking a transition, and each individual RC bug, doesn't necessarily take much time and attention, but it adds up over time, and I'm concerned that the long tail of GNOME-2-based packages might be collectively and cumulatively taking more time and attention than it deserves. In the case of gconf, it's had about 8 years of deprecation. If you keep gconf and its rdeps on life support until buster, how much do you expect the dependent packages to have changed by the time we get to the bullseye freeze? If you keep them going until bullseye, is the situation going to have improved for bullseye+1? And so on. If the upstream maintainer of some software has abandoned it, we can keep it alive for a while, but I don't think it's healthy for Debian to take over for multiple of our release cycles. For users: having a "long tail" of undermaintained software is both a strength and a weakness. It's a strength because we get to say we provide a vast amount of software, some of it very specialized. It's a weakness because it drags down the average level of quality of the results of a search for packages: if we have (say) two well-maintained implementations of a particular class of package, we'd probably prefer users to find only those two in a search, and not find them listed among multiple poorly-maintained implementations. This requires some value-judgement/curation, which Debian has historically not been great at. One way this could perhaps be mitigated is by improving how we mark deprecated and obsolescent packages, and as a small starting point for that I've just opened a ftp-master bug to get gconf and gconfmm moved to oldlibs (I hadn't realised they were still in libs). Better Description fields might also help, but the sort of libraries that we don't want new code using are exactly the sort of libraries where rewriting the Description isn't high on anyone's priorities. Ideally this would have happened back in 2010 when gconf was deprecated, of course, but hindsight is always clearer. If we had bikesheds, PPAs or an equivalent of Ubuntu universe, I'd suggest moving unmaintained/undermaintained packages to one of those to indicate that users shouldn't have the same quality expectations, but we don't currently have that facility. If, bearing all that in mind, you still think Debian is better with gconf than without it, then I'm not going to try to prevent you from maintaining it. (Again, I don't speak for the GNOME team.) smcv  The situation is rather different if someone (possibly the Debian maintainer) *becomes* the new upstream developer: at least that way any other distributions that still ship that package have a natural place to coordinate and share improvements. This seems to have happened for sysvinit recently, after a long period where each distro that booted with sysvinit effectively had its own fork, and I think that's a good thing to have happened.