Debian breaking Apache


Debian has a history of going its own way and confusing its users.  So when someone @debian writes this, I fear what might follow, and I want to suggest they at least read and consider this before breaking expectations and invalidating the documentation/manuals all over again.  But there’s no comment facility 😦

Anyone at Debian reading this?  I know at least some of you appreciate the issue.

Posted on December 24, 2010, in apache, debian. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. In an ideal world, both Debian and Apache would work together so that a standard Apache build would integrate well with the Debian package management system. Those guys aren’t fiddling with Apache just to piss you off, but for good technical reasons.

  2. David, I know you’re one of the few to wear both Apache and Debian hats 🙂

    In an ideal world, yes, we’d collaborate – as we[1] do with many other downstream packagers. I know Debian has reasons for what it does, and I’d welcome them discussing these reasons with us[1] so we could reach a satisfactory conclusion[2].

    But Debian has something of a history of going its own way without communicating upstream. Most famously of course when they gave us no-entropy OpenSSL, though that only emerged more recently than the article I referenced, and the long-running cases like Apache or Exim.

    [1] That’s wearing my Apache developer hat.
    [2] It would be foolish to prejudge such a conclusion, but I see no reason to suppose the discussion would be any different to suggestions coming from other reputable and informed sources.

  3. I actually resigned from Debian a while back, but still hold it in very high regard for many things.

    Maybe what’s needed is someone who bridges the gap and doesn’t wait for ‘the other guys’ to ‘come to us’ to discuss things. Someone to actually pick up a phone (it’s much easier to stay polite too, that way) and chat about things.

    Remember also that Debian is a pretty massive group of people – I think probably an order of magnitude bigger than the ASF, and less hierarchical to boot – so when “Debian” does something, keep in mind that it’s not always an action or thought that represents a broad current in the organization. The OpenSSL thing was one guy who screwed up, for instance.

  4. It used to be that some of those packaging apache httpd were members of both projects. Isn’t that still the case?

    I think it would be nice if the apache build had modular config files and so on. I’m glad distributions change http-std.conf and things like that. Maybe if many are changing it, apache’s choices aren’t universally good, just possibly?

  5. MJR

    1. Sure, there are people who are both apache httpd core devs and packagers for some downstream distros. Redhat and FreeBSD, for example.

    2. I’m perfectly happy to accept that Apache’s default packaging could be improved. As with other improvements, that can happen if someone proposes a change, gathers lazy consensus for it (i.e. a couple of supporters and no veto), and implements the change. I’m not volunteering to do that. Are you?

    3. No matter how much it’s improved, people will still think they can do better. If some of them choose to do so and package it for third-parties, they should think through the consequences.

    4. My basic problem with Debian is one of users coming to us for support, confused by the blurring of lines and by software that diverges from what is documented (broken expectations). Why does that happen overwhelmingly with Debian but not with Redhat, FreeBSD or Solaris?

  6. 1. Thing is, I feel that apache devs should have a way to express these concerns to their colleague without throwing mud in public about random blogging of a random debian developer.

    2. I’m not an apache dev and don’t have time to become one just now.

    3. Maybe they did think through the consequences?

    4. Sheer numbers? What “blurring of lines” and what documentation? There’s stuff on apache’s websites like “The main configuration file is usually called httpd.conf” which is probably wrong (has anyone ever surveyed it?) but anyway, that difference is documented under “Apache2 Configuration under Debian GNU/Linux” in the README.Debian, which is also mentioned on “man apache2”. Bascially, it is documented properly, but it seems like no-one’s bothered to check with the apache/debian crossover team. Also, if Apache people aren’t willing to support debian users, why aren’t you referring them back to debian-user, or even the “reportbug apache2” command instead of getting upset and failing them?

  7. When you say Debian, do you actually get the most grief from Ubuntu users?

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