Signs of bad package maintenance

<rant>Recently I’ve adopted a package, mainly as Merkaartor uses it now. It made me sad to see in which bad condition the package was. Here are just a few things I had to do to bring it into shape:

  • The former maintainer removed the documentation and added a +dfsg to the version as there were a few hints left that it is under GFDL or under no license at all. So I’ve mailed upstream and asked him to remove it and put the documentation under the same license as the rest of the project in an obvious way. Took a few hours and upstream responded and fixed the issue. Seems the former maintainer didn’t even bother to talk to upstream about it. And he didn’t bother to replace the removed manpages.
  • The Perl binding was never built. The Python extensions were only built for the default Python version instead for all supported versions. Putting gtk and non-gtk Python extensions into the same binary package also didn’t make much sense.
  • Symbol files for the libraries were not in the packaging.
  • Neither the copyright file was complete, nor the description, nor the necessary dependencies for some packages.

These points were only the larger issues, a lot more were fixed by me or by QA uploads while the package was orphaned. For me it seems that the former maintainer of that package threw some stuff together just to be able to upload the package - or at least run out of spare time to maintain a package properly several years ago.

To all the people who maintain packages - and it doesn’t matter if you maintain a single package or hundreds of them: Please orphan or at least RFA your packages if you don’t have the proper time to maintain (all of) them. Don’t open new ITPs if you obviously don’t have the time to maintain the packages you have already. Talk with your upstreams, they’re usually happy about it. Look at Lintian warnings and errors instead of overriding them. If you take patches from NMUs, say ‘thanks’ to the poor soul who had to create them for you in debian/changelog instead of taking the work without any notice.

Remember - Debian is a community effort, not a run for the highest number of maintained packages on your QA page.</rant>