[Pkg-owncloud-maintainers] I am using distro packages and I tell you why

Martin Steigerwald martin at lichtvoll.de
Mon Jan 4 11:58:02 UTC 2016

I am cc´ing owncloud maintainer team. I am also cc´ing upstream packaging 
mailing list.

Hi Jos!

First: A Happy New Year to you.

I do not comment directly on your blog as that requires a Google account and I 
deleted mine more than a year ago for various, I think, good reasons.

I refer to this blog:

Virtual Machine, Zip Files and Distribution Packages
04 January, 2016

In it you argue against using distro packages and criticize their update 
policy, yet:

I started out with a Debian distro package and then wanted to switch to 
upstream packages to upgrade from 7 some 8.0.1 something version back then.

It was a *complete* disaster. In the end I rolled everything back.


The Debian provide package is actually a Debian package: It has the 
configuration for Owncloud in /etc, where it belongs and everything else where 
it belongs. It is what I call *properly* packaged. The Owncloud provided 
package is just like a tar.gz inside a Debian package. It just unpacks 
everything to /var/www/htdocs or something like that. It is no package that 
even remotely meets my quality expection for a Debian package.

Additionally to that there was a bug with the encryption upgrade/migration in 
that early 8.0.1 version as David told me. Although I was at least able to 
make the encrypted files visible again, but still there were to many other 
issues left to actually use the updated version.

On Debconf 2015 I talked with David, one of the maintainers of the Debian 
package, and he told me that is no good idea to switch between the two 
different package sources. I obviously knew already by this time. He already 
packaged newer Owncloud 


and expects these to work okay on a Jessie based system. I want to try it 
soon. Maybe still during my holidays.

Yet even 8.0.10 is dated already I agree with that. 

I question the usefulness of your blog article nonetheless. Instead of 
complaining about outdated distro packages and providing your own totally 
incompatible ones that are merely like tar.gz´s inside a *.deb file, how about 
trying to find a way to *work* together and thus stop splitting man power? How 
about providing properly packaged packages that actually meet the Debian 
Policy for them?

Did you ever talk to the distro teams about this? Did you ever try to 
cooperate with them before considering to write your blog post?

As far as I gathered from my talk with David, he doesn´t plan to provide 8.x 
versions of Owncloud via Backports, understandably as its quite some 
additional work to provide backports of all the necessary PHP dependencies. 
There has been a backport of Owncloud once but it was a dependency mess. But 
with united forces and some sanity when it comes to using newer PHP stuff, who 
knows? Anyway, I am using the owncloud 7.0.12~dfsg-1 from unstable on my 
server without any major issues.

I think unified packaging would benefit everyone. Even if the 8.x packages 
would not be in jessie-backports, you could provide them via your upstream 
repository and if they are compatible with the Debian packaging, with some 
coordination it would be possible to switch between them. I´d even be willing 
to switch over and test them once I am confident that they won´t break my 
existing setup in inventive ways by being totally incompatible.

Aside from that I do think it is vital for Owncloud to backport security 
fixes. The Mozilla foundation learned this the hard way and now provides ESR 
releases after having received their share of feedback for their update & 
forget policy. But also they are still not supported long enough for Debian 
and Debian has actually compromizes on their stable policy for Iceweasel for a 
longer time already: At some point the packaging team updates Iceweasel to a 
new ESR release. I am not sure whether something like that is needed for 

So or so, Owncloud 7 just works for what I used it for and I´d prefer not to 
have to upgrade to a major version every year or even shorter. Especially when 
updates are not just smooth apt upgrade & update experiences, like they are 
with Debian packaged Owncloud so far. Even the database upgrade is done on 
package upgrade and I do not have to trigger the update from a webbrowser as 
with Debian packaged wordpress for example. So from what I can see Debian´s 
own Owncloud packages are very well done.

I understand the different policies and goals here. Upstream wants to move 
fast, Debian wants to provide a stable experience for its users. Yet, just 
barking at each other, ignoring each other or trying to drag users on the own 
side is just is everything else but constructive. What about looking for 
common ground and ways to cooperate instead – for the benefit of everyone 
involved? Especially as Owncloud already has some longer supported versions 
out there.


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