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Re: New lintian warning: vcs-deprecated-in-debian-infrastructure

On Thu, 2018-03-22 at 23:23:22 +0100, Markus Koschany wrote:
> Am 22.03.2018 um 15:40 schrieb Guillem Jover:
> > On Thu, 2018-03-22 at 12:47:44 +0200, Lars Wirzenius wrote:
> >> On Thu, 2018-03-22 at 09:58 +0100, Andreas Tille wrote:
> >>> I admit I do not agree with this and it was discussed here before.  Can
> >>> we please agree that anonscm.debian.org remains a valid URL and stop
> >>> starting another round of package uploads for the sake of changing Vcs
> >>> fields.
> > 
> >> I'm repeating myself, but could we please find another way to store
> >> this information than in the source package? I'd like to see all of
> >> the following stored somewhere else than the source package:
> > 
> >> * Maintainer, Uploaders
> >> * Vcs-*
> >> * Homepage
> >> * debian/watch
> >>
> >> Possibly also Section and Priority.
> Yes!
> > I'm not sure now if this also has been said before, but I'm happy to
> > repeat it in any case. :) I'd very strongly object to completely moving
> > those fields out of the source packages, because it means when you get
> > or have a source package lying around then it's missing important
> > metadata and it stops being standalone, which would require checking
> > somewhere online, and you might first need to infer which distro/repo
> > was this coming from. I'll happily take outdated data than no data any
> > day, because usually you can use that outdated data to trace your way
> > to the current one, not so if it's missing.

> You need online access to make use of the above information in any way.
> If you want to contact the maintainer you need internet access, if you
> want to visit the upstream homepage you need internet access, etc.

Not really. For starters, we'd need to have network access to be able
to run dch or lintian, because they do check whether an upload is
supposed to be an NMU, team upload, etc. This seems ridiculous.

Some people like to add branch information in the Vcs- fields, this
would then require to support adding that info before the package
exists in tha vcs or archive branch (which means less sanity checks)
or afterwards (which means it's prone to be forgotten).

The Section and Priority are overridden by ftp-masters, but the
maintainer tends to fill it more or less correctly. Without them,
ftp-masters would need to come up with values from scratch, which
is more difficult than correcting them if they seem off.

If one has got to update the data for several of those fields, it can
currently be done off-line, and then pushed when one's back on-line,
this is getting back into the centralized development model.

These fields/files are generally useful outside Debian, if we stop
providing them then it's to be expected that tooling might bit-rot.
While requiring someone with a tiny local archive to install a tracker
instance seems just onerous.

> These
> information are distribution-independent because they are either the
> same like "Homepage" or you could simply look them up if you define a
> common and central platform like tracker.debian.org as your main hub for
> external/additional/random information about package X.

This still means keeping the package and its metadata separate, which
is prone to be forgotten by maintainers when updating packaging locally.
So it's a locality problem too. Look at the current debtags coverage. :(

> Look how Fedora
> have solved the same issue. They have https://src.fedoraproject.org/ and
> everything is organized by convention in an identical way. There is no
> need for them to put the same information into their spec files and they
> also have derivatives. Be sure Ubuntu or Mint users don't care about our
> Vcs or maintainer fields as well.

Well, Fedora is not Debian, we have wildly different history, practices
and workflows for a reason, etc. And, I'd say what you provide is actually
a counter-example. They list the Group (our Section), Url (our Homepage)
and the SourceN (our watch file) in the spec file. And they do not need
(ahem) Vcs fields because they have a unified and properly namespaced (!)
git managed set of packaging-only repos. And when it comes to the
contributors, well in many cases it does not even reflect reality between
what's listed on the site and who is doing the changes, so there you go.

> >> All of the above can change and it's silly to have to make a source
> >> upload to change them. They also easily get out of date and so are
> >> likely out of date for a stable release.
> > 
> > Yes, it might be silly to have to upload a package just and only to
> > update that information, or having that data being permanently
> > out-of-date on stable. But this problem can be easily solved already,
> > the archive, and most (if not all!?) repo managers have had the
> > concept of overrides for a very long time, starting with things like
> > dpkg-scanpackages/dpkg-scansources!
> I don't understand why some people always think it is smart to create or
> use some new program or tool to solve a problem when the most efficient
> way would be to solve a problem non-programmatically. Reduce the
> complexity by defining conventions which all developers have to follow
> in Debian like maintaining external information in tracker.debian.org
> instead of the source package.

That depends on the context. In the Debian context, people like to do
and work in very different ways, that's why we have all these many
workflows, helpers and vcs used (it's both a curse and a blessing).
Would you be happy if the project forced upon you a workflow, helper
and vcs you cannot stand f.ex.? Imagine trying to switch in the future
when something new and interesting pops up.

Also, just backtracking a bit, this subthread was triggered by the Vcs
URLs needing updates due to the salsa switch. Even with a solution
based entirely on tracker.d.o, you could not do any mass conversion
there, because salsa does not follow any namespace convention at all.

> A switch of Vcs platform would become a
> trivial matter in the future by replacing some strings on the server. It
> would take seconds and could be solved by a single person.

The current switch should be proof that this cannot be done right now

> I have already seen hundreds of uploads just for the sake of changing the
> Vcs-fields in debian/control. That is crazy.

Well sure. But what also seems crazy to me is that we are discussing some
kind of centralized storage for these URLs (because they change too often)
that cannot be automatically migrated anyway, because there's no global 1:1
mapping. Instead of, I don't know, considering that if we had proper stable
URLs preserved, we'd not need to do any update at all? :)

> >> I think this would be a better thing to spend time on than talking
> >> again about keeping anonscm around.
> > 
> > And this is still missing the point, as I've also said in the past. The
> > worst part of this is not IMO to have to update the Vcs fields, which
> > TBH is one more time too many. It's that it implies any downstream, any
> > service pulling from the repo, any mirror and checkout, needs to be
> > noticed in time (while the redirect is in place, because there's now
> > recommendation to remove it after the next upload!) and then someone or
> > something needs to update all those references lying around. :(
> If you store this information on tracker.debian.org there would be no
> delay and no inconvenience for downstreams at all. In most circumstances
> they have their own "tracker.debian.org" service like launchpad.net.
> Things like the maintainer or Vcs field get overridden anyway and other
> information could be provided via a simple API and thus kept in sync
> with their services.

I'm not sure what this has to do with what I said above. Who or what is
going to fix the URLs in remotes of all the existing chekouts, or things
like say openhub.net, mirrors in github.com (or other hosting) sites,
etc., etc. How does having a centralized storage or an API help here at