Rant: Pissed off by Politics

Many Linux distributions function on the basis that people around the world subscribe to its ideology. In such model nobody can impose anything on anybody else. On a large scale this model works well enough to keep several major distributions function properly and produce high quality software. But on a smaller scale, things can go wrong.

I have been user of one Linux distribution D for many years. I like way it is organised. I'm quite satisfied with the quality of the distribution overall.

Then there is one program I use almost daily. For the first time I used it, I found out the version in D was quite old comparing to upstream version. I sent an email to ask the package maintainer if I can help upgrade the package to the latest version. But it turned out the package maintainer was aware of that but he wouldn't want to upgrade to the latest version because he and the upstream maintainer held different ideas of how things should be done.

Over the course of 6 years, things didn't get improved. I wasn't alone. Many people offered helping hands, but all the effort was blocked due the the same reason. And to be honest, to this day nobody really understands what is the real reason that blocks this whole thing -- it dates back to 16 years ago according to my own archaeology, and there isn't any public record. The only information people get is that they had discussions and several proposals many years ago.

The higher level reason is that it "doesn't meets the normal distro expectations and standards". In order to not make myself a fool and take the wrong side, I check how things are done in other popular distributions like G, A and F. It seems that they do have the relative new version and aren't concerned with the blocker mentioned in D's package.

At this point I feel frustrated and pissed. On one hand I respect the package maintainer because he obviously put huge amount of effort into this package - he went as far as writing a huge patch to did things the way he saw fit and maintained that patch for years; on the other hand it looks like he is holding hostage of everybody using D to make his proposal accepted upstream.

Politics is inevitable in life. But I don't want to see a volunteer-based open source project turned into an arena for people who push for their private agendas while actively harming the interest of wider community.

I would either package my own version or write to D mailing list to take over the project. As of today I've finished a preliminary version of the new package, with all the cruft removed. I also filed a new bug report to urge the package maintainer to reconsider upgrading to the latest upstream version. I don't like to aggressively take over things, but for the benefit of larger community, I will do what needs to be done.