August 12th, 2008 by lucas
Debian’s freeze sounds like a technical hack to address a social problem, and that disturbs me a bit.
The social problem is: At some point, we need everybody in Debian to make only non-disruptive changes, so everything can converge very fast into a releasable state.
The “solution” we are using is that we are blocking all packages from migrating to testing, and requiring manual review from someone on the release team. Consequences are:
- many people feel that you need to be very convincing to fix a small, not RC bug, even if fixing that bug definitely increases your package’s quality.
- the release team is completely overwhelmed by unblock requests during the freeze
- many people just stop trying to fix things during the freeze (which definitely doesn’t improve Debian’s quality), both because they think it’s hard to get a fix in, and because they don’t want to bother the release team
I wonder if we really need such a strict policy. Are there other Free Software projects that use such a technical measure to prevent software from disrupting stable releases? I am the impression that most other projects rely on social pressure instead of technical measures for that, except maybe during the last few hours before the release.
Couldn’t we act on the social level? We could default to allow everyone’s package to migrate to testing, and, when someone fucks up and uploads something that should not have been uploaded, block all his packages (switching to manual review mode) until the release. Of course, that require the release team to make decisions about _people_, which is harder than making decisions about _packages_. But if the rules are clearly stated, couldn’t this work?