Everybody knows about multiple solutions to the same problem. Everybody and their mom complains about them and that they should merge or at least work together. Surprisingly they do. At least most of the time. And of course there’s an exception. It’s called distributions. Noone complains about the fact that there’s a huge amount of them. And noone complains about the fact that they don’t work together. And I’m experiencing this on two different fronts now.

Imagine a project where upstream is in some “broken” state. Examples include, but are probably not limited to FFmpeg not doing releases and Mozilla not being able to ship one development platform. So what do the distros do to solve that problem? Right, they get creative. FFmpeg version numbers range from 0.49 to 0d.51. I bet you can guess which one is more recent. Now sometimes upstream gets in a good mood and tries to fix it. (I’ve heard that m4 macro is not always working. ;))

Dear distros, could you make life of us hackers simpler, and when you encounter a broken upstream, get together and work out a solution that makes life easy for us? It would make life a lot easier for us developers of not-broken packages and people that compile from sources like jhbuild.

Dear everyone else, in case you encounter a package that I maintain and that package doesn’t build on your distro of choice, there’s a pretty good chance of a broken upstream and distros being creative. I’ll most likely have a rant in configure.ac in that case. And then: Blame your distro.

PS: Thanks to Olav Vitters my blog moved from Advogato to GNOME blogs. So you can write comments now.


#1 Scott Lamb on 05.23.07 at 03:18

The obvious way for the distros to collaborate is to send patches back upstream. If those patches are refused, blame upstream, not the distro.

#2 Michael Scherer on 05.23.07 at 10:28

Yes, but unfortunately, blaming upstream is not sufficient to make software compiles.

Indeed, as I package swfdec for Mandriva, I also faced the problem described by Benjamin ( on mozilla ), but since I do not know what would be the proper fix, I prefered to change configure arguments to make it compile.

But yes, something like :
export MOZILLA_CFLAGS=”$(pkg-config –cflags firefox-plugin) $(pkg-config –cflags firefox-plugin awk ‘{print $1}’ sed ‘s /[^/]*$ ‘)”

is far from being nice.

And yes, I plan to find a better fix once I have time, but I wanted to have swfdec updated first in order to help upstream, because users asked me ( and were quite insistant ), and because mozilla packages ( in mdv ) were frozen at that time.

#3 shirish on 05.27.07 at 00:39

Hi Benjamin,
Would it also possible to add an icon of the w3c, xhtml 1.0 strict . I just tried to validate your page & apart from 6 errors you are almost there. http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=http%3A%2F%2Fblogs.gnome.org%2Fview%2Fotte%2F

Lemme know what you think :)