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Re: precompiled 3.4 for Debian/Ubuntu: was Re: still problems, version?

From: Jordi Gutiérrez Hermoso
Subject: Re: precompiled 3.4 for Debian/Ubuntu: was Re: still problems, version?
Date: Tue, 19 Jul 2011 08:38:38 -0500

2011/7/19 Uwe Brauer <address@hidden>:
>  > 2011/7/18 Uwe Brauer <address@hidden>:
>  > Yes, thanks. I know how to compile on Debian. We may need to
>  > update Octave's build-deps because I think the fltk stuff has
>  > changed since 3.2 when we last packaged this, but except for that
>  > "apt-get build-dep octave3.2" in Ubuntu will get you those
>  > dependencies, and '"aptitude build-dep octave3.2" is preferrable
>  > on Debian.
> Ah, right "apt-get build-dep octave3.2" was the command I was
> looking for. Thanks!
> Now I usually generate deb by
> sudo auto-apt run ./configure
> sudo make
> sudo checkinstall
> But I am not sure whether this is the best way of generating
> a deb pkg, well I am almost sure that the dependencies are
> not built correctly in the sense that if somebody wants to
> install my deb on his machine dpkg would *not* download the
> necessary pkg. [1]

I've never used auto-apt, but it only seems to install missing debs
detected when building. It shouldn't be necessary because you
installed the build-deps, and if it *was* necessary, then the
build-deps are indeed outdated and we need to update them for 3.4.

This is an ok way of generating personal debs, but please don't upload
them to a PPA and encourage people to use them. Octave packaging is
not a trivial task that can be automated. If you want to help, please
read the Debian new maintainer's guide and help us update our
packaging, that has many intricate details related to bugs and
situations that have arisen over the years while packaging Octave.

We need to update our webpage, but most of the information here is
still relevant:

>  > Note that unlike Debian, Ubuntu has no dedicated team looking at
>  > the Octave packages, so it's gathering some bit rot, and we have
>  > had problems with Ubuntu recompiling Octave Debian packages with
>  > errors. If Ubuntu matters a lot to you, you might want to help
>  > them to make sure their Octave packages are in good shape.
> Hm to be completely honest: I'd love to replace matlab by octave,
> but for this certain commands have to work, otherwise I cannot
> use it for my courses.

What commands?

> Now what I dislike is, among other things, the extreme
> modularisation debian is so much fond off. I don't see why octave
> could not be packed in one single deb!

Because people want to install Octave in clusters, so why should we
force them to install the documentation on every cluster, in both HTML
and TeXinfo? Why should people that don't intend to help us debug wait
longer downloading and installing the debug symbols, which are almost
eight times the size of Octave itself? If you are not going to be
building oct files, why should you also need Octave's headers? Why
should every single Octave-Forge package be installed, some of which
may be broken, as is or was for a long time the case oct2mat on the
Windows distribution, and many are in fact incompatible with each
other and with core Octave functions?

I know this seems like unnecessary complication from the outside, but
it's not. Every person has different needs, and Debian needs to cater
to many different needs, plus 11 different architectures. A personal
.deb package is fine for personal builds, but it won't satisfy our
users, and you can't ignore the complexity that building a proper
package entails.

Part of the reason why Ubuntu can have Octave packages from Debian
without any human maintaining them is that Debian packages are
carefully maintained to be easily built automatically by Debian's
auto-builder servers for all 11 architectures *and* as a consequence
by Ubuntu's auto-builder servers too. The complexity that you scoff at
is what has allowed Debian packages to be distributed to Ubuntu that
mostly work.

> Besides they are a little picky by letting people become
> maintainers. So I don't know what to tell you.

It's not that they're picky, anyone who does the work can be a
maintainer. The problem is that being a maintainer is hard work and
not just a matter of running a few automated tools that build a low
quality deb that only works on very specific environments and for very
specific usages.

> [1] I know the correct way would be to put the deb on a web
> server. The user should add the server to his source.list file
> run apt-get update and then install octave3.4.

Ubuntu encourages people to modify their sources.list file to point to
any old repository with little regard for the quality or safety of the
packages installed from that repository. I would prefer if you didn't
encourage Ubuntu users to do this for Octave packages and instead you
helped us update the Octave package correctly. This is not plain
snobbery; it is simple the best use of our limited volunteer-driven

- Jordi G.H.

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