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[Idea] Debian User Repository? (Not simply mimicing AUR)




Hi folks,

The absense of a centralized, informal Debian package repository where
trusted users could upload their own packaging scripts has been
long-forgotten. As an inevitable result, many user packaging scripts
exist in the wild, scattered like stars in the sky, with varied
packaging quality. Their existence reflects our users' demand,
especially the experienced ones', that has not been satisfied by the
Debian archive. Such idea about informal packaging repository has been
demonstrated successful by the Archlinux User Repository (AUR). Hence,
it should be valuable to think about it for Debian.

Assume that Debian has an informal packaging repository similar to AUR,
which distrbutes packaging scripts only and requires to be built
locally. According to my observation and experience, such a repository:

1. Allows packaging in some compromised manner to exist, which means
they dont fully comply with DFSG or Policy. This makes great sense for
several kinds of packages:

(1) Packages that are extremely hard to made compliant to Policy. For
example, bazel the build system of TensorFlow and other Google products
- No Debian Developer can make it meet the Policy's requirement without
great sacrifice. The outcome doesn't worth the waste in time and energy.

(2) Dirty but useful non-free blobs, such as nvidia's cuDNN (CUDA Deep
Neural Network) library, which dominates the field of high performance
neural network training and inference. I really hate reading NVIDIA's
non-free legal texts, and in such repository we can avoid reading the
license and just get the scutwork done and make users happy.

(3) Data with obscure licensing. In this repository we can feel free to
package pre-trained neural networks or training data without carefully
examing the licensing.

(4) Packages with dirty hacks, or targeted on testing the water. This
makes sense for packages that doesn't worth the effort to make it fully
compliant with Debian's quality requirement and some user just wants it.

(5) Packages that utilizes SIMD instructions heavily. Such package is
very easy to package in such repo. (So this Proposal actually suppresses
and replaces my SIMDebian project).

2. Allows us to offload some low-popcon, or QA-questionable packages
from the archive. Debian's archive size is continuously increasing, but
the number of Debian Developers has been staying around 1000 for many
many years. Saturation will definitely happen in the future if we do
nothing to change - or saturation has already happended. An Archlinux
Developer's saturation point may be several thousand (See Felix Yan, an
Arch Dev), but a Debian Developer often saturate at, maybe 30~100?
Handing over some workload to the user community is not a bad thing,
especially for the cold packages.

3. Allows us to accept potential contributors friendly, and possibly
form a new user community. The high quality standard of Debian may scare
some potential contributors away. In the informal packaging area, it's
easier for people to contribute. Look at AUR and Archlinux Trusted Users
as example. Of course, we can promote high quality creations from users
into debian archive.

Just a few of my naive thoughts. If this idea came true, I'll
denfinitely be able to continue with TensorFlow and PyTorch packaging,
at an significantly lower cost. I'm also happy to throw some of my
low-popcon packages to this area, so I can focus on more valuable ones.
This idea really excites me. Can we implement it?

Best,
Mo.