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

Jos Poortvliet jospoortvliet at gmail.com
Tue Jan 5 08:23:22 UTC 2016

On Monday 04 January 2016 23:47:26 Martin Steigerwald wrote:
> Jos,
> Wow. Seems I received a ton of frustrations that I didn´t contribute too.
> I am not sure whether it makes sense to spend a lot of energy in my answer, 
> but I want to at least reply to some of your answer.

I don't intend to attack anybody, I'm telling users not to use distribution packages for ownCloud because it has a list of issues - if those aren't real, tell me which ones aren't. I've updated the blog with some more links and details, like the performance impact of splitting packages up for example.

And I add to that that this is similarly true for many apps, especially web apps, which is why solutions which forgo the whole packaging thing like docker are becoming popular and teams like the GNOME/systemd folks are building tools to take that even further.

I see that as a sad thing, which is why I'm a tad pointy about it - but don't you guys and girls see that more and more sysadmins move away from using distribution tech to containers and more will go that way?

Debian and other distributions are going to be that thing you run docker on, little more. I would've preferred to see a larger role for distributions in distributing software in the future as I think they still have something to add.

And maybe I'm too ambitious here, I'm sure for some people the current distribution model will remain relevant and be of use - like, 1%. If that covers you, fine, of course, ignore me.

> Am Montag, 4. Januar 2016, 17:52:45 CET schrieb Jos Poortvliet:
> > On Monday 04 January 2016 12:58:02 Martin Steigerwald wrote:
> […]
> > > 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
> > > http://blog.jospoortvliet.com/2016/01/virtual-machine-zip-files-and.html
> > > 
> > > 
> > > 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.
> > > 
> > > Why?
> > 
> > Because, as I explained in the blog, Debian tried to fit a square peg (web
> > app) in a round hole (made for old style C apps). It didn't fit, they
> > banged on it until it DID fit, and now everything is broken.
> I am not willing to spend my energy into this is correct and this is broke. As 
> long as I stuck with Debian provided packages everything was fine
> Both approaches are different and thats about it.
> From your response I gather that you are not willing at all to find some 
> common ground here.


We take the pretty darn serious performance improvement over "but I want to split the package up in 20 ways cuz my distro wants it".

It is why I talked (Ok, yelled) about guidelines which don't match reality.

> > > 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.
> > 
> > Ah, so you want executable code in /etc? Yes, config.php is executable. And
> > why, because of some outdated policy? So you can backup your configuration,
> First off I think that even a PHP web app could parse the config. But wait, 
> maybe PHP is too slow for that? Then, I have this with Debian packaged 
> Wordpress already and it works fine here. Third I manage my /etc within Bazaar 
> to document changes. And fourth I do believe that in documentroot of the 
> webserver only stuff belongs that the webserver should be able to access 
> instead of creating a huge .htaccess file mess.

Look, ponies and unicorns are great. Packagers put a large amount of work in working around the limitations and peculiarities of web apps so they fit in the distribution paradigm, correct? You love it, I think it causes more issues than it solves.

Call it a difference of opinion if you prefer - I say docker and friends show that much of the world, sadly, moves away from the distro model.

I find that sad, which is why I suggested (ok, yelled about) some things you could look into to fix that.

You rather disagree.



> Are you serious about this? You really want Debian to dismiss all of their own 
> infrastructure to use… wait… Github and Open Build Service? Especially Github 
> which is a proprietary platform? If you understood a thing about Debian you´d 
> understand that this is asking Debian to completely abandon on of their core 
> principles of using free software also for development.

I do mean them as examples of a collaborative development model which seems to fit the foss model better than doing it all on your own, private infrastructure, closed off from other folks. Yes, if we want to collaborate with you, we have to be on debian infrastructure, following debian rules. And on fedora infrastructure following fedora rules. And on Arch and on openSUSE and on Ubuntu and on 10 more. You're saying that is "a middle ground"??? Ok... Sure.

> > And honestly, I'm no packager so I don't want to dive deep into this or put
> > work on it, just warn people not to use Debian packaged ownCloud.
> Okay, then maybe it would be better if the discussion continues with the 
> actual upstream Owncloud packagers.

Thing is, they have packages to build. That's a lot of work already and we'd probably look for a way to reduce that, not increase. If you know a way to decrease the amount of work and increase package quality, great!

But I suspect that, 5 years from now, we'll just offer some standard container format because much of the world has moved to that.
> > This isn't OUR problem. This is a problem which has been getting clearer
> > over the last 15 years, distributions have not done anything about it so
> > Docker and the  GNOME and systemd team and others are now solving the
> > problem for the distributions by making containers which have everything in
> > them.
> And triggering a ton of friction in the process. systemd is not the holy 
> grail, and I am pretty confident that the test of time will show this. Anyway, 
> lets avoid in morphing this into yet another systemd discussion.

I didn't mean it that way, obviously - but Debian can't stop the future. And I hope I'm wrong but I haven't heard or seen anybody argue THAT.

> > > 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.
> > 
> > I'm not the guy packaging and if our packager has time - that'd be cool. If
> > you guys ran your own OBS, we could connect ours to it (long live
> > federation of the web) and we'd have one convenient infrastructure where we
> > could all collaborate on! How about that?
> From what I gathered so far is if what you refer to with Open Build Service 
> was formerly OpenSUSE Build Service, then it doesn´t meet basically quality 
> and build requirements for Debian packagers. I do not recall the details so 
> far, but I heard this more than once in talks with Debian maintainers.
> > > 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'm sorry you don't want to upgrade regularly, but you'll have to. You can
> > group it if you like, but there won't be any skipping of releases anyhow so
> > your choice is to either spread it out and stay a bit close to upstream or
> > to group your upgrades, do them once a year or so.
> Okay, so in your world I would grab owncloud on your site, wordpress on 
> wordpress site, another web app on a third side and loose all of the 
> advantages a distributions gives me by having one central source for upgrades?

Yeah, that is what is happening, sadly. Or, they use a different tool to grab and update their containers... No longer the distro. Isn't it sad?

> Owncloud might have its on in place update, Wordpress wants an FTP login to 
> upgrade itself, and another web app needs me to download a tar.gz from 
> somewhere, probably even an unsigned one. Am I the only sysadmin who thinks 
> why on earth shall I do that?

Ask other sysadmins. Perhaps because, in the end, it is easier?

> How is this different than upgrading a Windows system where I have to do 
> different steps to update each and every third party application? Why on earth 
> did I choose a distro like Debian in the first place? Cause the package 
> maintainers take care of providing me all updates I need from a central 
> location.
> By no means this concept is irrelevant to me.
> > And yes, we don't let the upgrade run in the packages for a reason: it
> > breaks on some systems. We're working on a new upgrade system to fix this,
> > but that's a different story. And another reason not to use distribution
> > packages.
> A bug or limitation in your software as a reason not to use distribution 
> packages? Interesting standpoint if you ask me.
> > > 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.
> > 
> > We can collaborate. On a platform made for collaboration. There is one
> > (OBS), I haven't seen any others but hey, an alternative would be welcome,
> > provided it is actually better of course. I don't think it is reasonable to
> > expect upstream projects to work not only on packages for 15+ distributions
> > but also do that with 8 different toolsets on 6 platforms.
> Hmmm, in Debian more than 1000 developers cooperate. Granted maybe the 
> accessibility of the Debian infrastructure could be better, but still I as a 
> maintainer for some packages didn´t find it hard to contribute. Harder it was 
> to really provide quality packages, but from what I can see its worth it, even 
> if I sometimes wonder whether Lintian really has to be that picky about 
> things. But in the long run I think thats good to have. Cause quality matters.
> > Sorry to be harsh, but I've given up hope that the distributions will let
> > anybody drag them kicking and screaming in 2016.
> > 
> > If we're to collaborate, I suggest the debian ownCloud packager(s) to start
> > a conversation in debian about:
> > * adopting guidelines which work with web
> > apps (when it comes to where to put files, splitting up what and where, and
> > dealing with upgrade cycles faster than the distro)
> > * creating or adopting
> > a open, transparent platform where distribution and upstream people can
> > collaborate on creating packages.
> > * synchronizing policies, guidelines
> > etcetera between distributions so the above can be cross-distribution and
> > SAVE work rather than create it.
> All good points. But real colaboration also means to fine a common ground. A 
> common ground is usually different from only one sides ground. If you expect 
> distros to completely abandon what just works for them quite well completely, 
> thats not finding common ground.
> A start would be to clearly state the needs of upstream and the needs of 
> Debian and to honestly look at where there would be ways to cooperate. I got 
> quite some more replies only to the Debian owncloud packagers list, from 
> people that apparently see no sense to discuss about this with you from 
> previous encounters. Yet one of the people who replied thinks about suggesting 
> to you that its completely within the reach of Owncloud upstream to provide 
> Debian packages that actually meet the guidelines.
> > Sorry that you get such a rant back to a nice email. As openSUSE community
> > manager I already got the smell of this mess so there's some frustration
> > ;-)
> > 
> > Let's hope 2016 brings solutions. Even if that has to be in the form of
> > containers...
> Well I had hoped that with my mail I may invite some change, but change can 
> only happen when each side tries to understand the goal and needs of the other 
> side and when there is a sincere willingness to find a common ground.
> From your answer I think there isn´t. So it may be wise to just stop the 
> discussion here again to spare energy on both sides. If there is no 
> willingness to find common ground, then it is best to agree to disagree.
> The result of this from my personal case will be that I dismiss your 
> recommendation completely, and do the update path David described to me. Cause 
> up to now upgrading the Debian package did just work out okay for me.
> So like it or not, but I as a Owncloud user still get to decide whether I use 
> your recommendation, or just dismiss it. At least the Debian packagers do not 
> seem to be that vocal on their blogs about upstream decisions they dislike.

I didn't mean to change your mind - I hoped to warn ownCloud users in general and perhaps kick off some thinking at distro's to avoid them becoming, well, the thing to run a container on.

Of course, you have to consider that, like me, a bad scenario. And a likely one. Perhaps you don't care, or don't think it will happen. In that case, ignore me.


> Thanks,

Everything I do and say is based on my view of the world today. I am not responsible for changes in the world, nor my view on it. Everything I say is meant in a positive and friendly way, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
find me on blog.jospoortvliet.com

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