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About chances to fix issues in Debian and roles that do not exist (Was: Please do not drop Python 2 modules)

Hi Nicholas,

On Tue, Apr 24, 2018 at 07:54:00PM -0400, Nicholas D Steeves wrote:
> At what stage should Python IDEs uploaded to NEW disable or not
> install Python 2 support?  Now?
> Should Python 2-specific IDEs and/or Python 2-specific educational
> materials be removed from the archive?  If so, then when?
> Andreas, I've CCed you because we've been in touch in the past, and
> because I have friends who do graduate work in bioinformatics on
> Debian systems.

Thanks for the trust you have in me specifically but it is wrong to
assume that I have a more competent opinion in this topic than other
developers who raised their opinion in this thread (rather the contrary
since I'm not very deeply involved in Python).

Since you asked about bioinformatics I can simply confirm that there is
some code around that is used and definitely useful (may be partly
without any replacement).  That's a pity for the users who might need
that code.  The only chance we have is to ask for helping hands to port
**and** **test** the Python2 code to Python3.  Since two GSoC/Outreachy
periods I'm mentoring students to write autopkgtests - the next
promising outreachy student was just accepted yesterday.  So at some
point in time we will hopefully be able to at least reproduce the
results Python2 code has created in the test cases in a potential
Python3 port.  Helping hands are always welcome - feel free to send this
message to the friends you have.

> With the upcoming end of Python 2 in Debian, what can
> we do to avoid losing them to CentOS?

Everybody chooses the distribution that has advantages for the task that
needs to be done.  I do not know about CentOS, but Debian is organised
as Do-O-cracy.  Everybody who realises a problem is free to fix it
inside Debian.  For instance in 2001 I realised that Debian is not
specifically helpful for biologists and medicine.  I'm on a good way
to fix this.  At that time Debian was the only distribution that enabled
this way of "fix".

Using the menace to switch the distribution as a club to push some
Debian developer does not work.  I did not interpreted your sentence
that way - I just want to express in some more drastical words that you
can not push somebody elses agenda on some Debian developer by this kind
of argument.  The best way to reach something in Debian is to start
yourself doing what you need and if you have no success ask for help.

> Also, if appropriate and if it
> wouldn't be too much work, does Debian have a role in encouraging
> new masters and PhD candidates to choose Python 3?

I do not think that Debian has such a role.  I'd consider it common
sense to not use outdated development tools and that is a known fact
that was made pretty clear by Python developers.  The role of any
distribution is to provide existing software and care for a secure and
reliable installation process, provide security updates, etc.  It is not
the role to hand-hold random users to pick their tools sensibly - or
rather the only way to implement this hand-holding is if we do not
provide anything that should not be used any more.  So also drastically
spoken: The only possibly answer I could imagine to your question is
that the people who are currently asking for the removal of Python2 are
fullfilling this role.  May be a bit more drastical than you might wish
(and my personal opinion is to make the transition as smooth as possible
- but see in the beginning about my personal competence in this
question) but otherwise we need to trust the common sense of our users.

Kind regards


[1] https://communitywiki.org/wiki/DoOcracy