May 3rd, 2010 by lucas
Due to my work on Ultimate Debian Database, I’m sometimes asked why Debian isn’t using Launchpad.
First, “using Launchpad” can mean two different things.
The first possibility is using Canonical’s instance of Launchpad. That would mean creating a Debian project on launchpad.net, and using Canonical’s infrastructure. Well, that’s clearly not a good idea. We (Debian) do not want to depend on Canonical to fix bugs or make enhancements that we require to improve Debian. For example, Canonical imposes the use of the Bazaar Version Control System in Launchpad: you simply can’t use Git instead (git-bzr hacks don’t count). We want to stay in control of our infrastructure, for obvious reasons.
So the other possibility would be to setup our own instance of Launchpad, given that Launchpad is now Free Software. However, it is not clear if it is actually possible: I was told by a Launchpad developer that they didn’t know of any external (outside Canonical) installation of Launchpad.
Even if this was possible, it is not clear at all that the Ubuntu infrastructure is superior to the Debian infrastructure. The Debian infrastructure has many nice features that are missing in Launchpad, for example version-tracking in the Bug Tracking System, which allows to track (by parsing the changelog) the versions of a package where a bug has been fixed or not (example with iceweasel).
So, when switching to Launchpad, we would have to reimplement quite a lot of needed features in in, with no clear benefit: the Debian infrastructure works fine, and is actively maintained.
It’s also interesting to note that while the Ubuntu infrastructure is centered on Launchpad, there are quite a lot of external services that are not integrated in Launchpad: the Ubuntu popularity contest, merges.u.c, patches.u.c, the various services on qa.ubuntuwire.org and qa.u.c, etc. With the Debian model, it is very easy to add a new service and get it integrated with the various dashboard (Debian Developer’s Packages Overview, Packages Tracking System). Within Ubuntu, those external services are really second-class citizens. All in all, the infrastructures of the two projects reflect their organizations: bazaar model for Debian, with an emphasis on collaboration between the services, controlled by Canonical for Ubuntu.