Various things

A bit of various things I quickly want to write something about:

Mandriva (1)

Mandriva decided to end the contracts of at least Adam Williamson, Mandriva’s community manager and Oden Eriksson, maintainer of the Apache, MySQL, PHP stack and other related packages. I’m disappointed to see that all the trouble Mandriva has gone through during the past years, still has not ended yet and that people who play such an important role for the distribution, have to leave the ship now. This has triggered a heavy reaction from the community now, with a public letter to the CEO being written, an online petition and people deciding not to spend money anymore to Mandriva, but instead spent it on other free software projects.

While I totally agree with the support for and the solidarity with the people who are victim of these cost cutting, and while I think that this definitely was not the smartest move from the management, I’m not sure these actions are really a good idea. I fear that it’s only a matter of time, until the big sites will start to pick up this story, resulting in yet more negative publicity for the distribution, which will definitely not help preventing this kind of trouble in the future. I can already imagine the style reactions this would provoke on Slashdot: “Mandriva is dead, I left them years ago for X”, “Does anybody still care about Mandriva?”, “Now competitor X can hire them!”,… Now of course, if the management had not decided to end the contracts of these people, this would never happen… Actually I was doubting for that reason if I really wanted to post this here on my blog, but on the other hand: this blog is not that popular anyway, so, it won’t make it worse than it already is :-)

I’m not too sure what to expect from Mandriva in the future. The lack of manpower has always been a problem, and this will only become worse now. Especially seeing that most Mandriva employees are currently working on OEM stuff, and almost the whole Cooker distribution is now maintained by the community. Even big updates like KDE 4.2 beta, X.org 1.5 and others, are almost entirely being done by the community. While there is nothing wrong with a community based distribution (I’m thinking of Debian), together with those contract endings it gives me the feeling that the community is more and more seen as a cheap way of distribution development for the benefit of the company.

Mandriva (2)

Today a broken Evolution update was released as an official update for Mandriva 2009.0. It’s disappointing that there are not better QA procedures to prevent such a major breakage. Packages were just being uploaded to the updates repository, while these updated package did never get even the most basic testing. These kind of serious problems together with the many other annoying and sometimes major problems in 2009.0, make that I really cannot recommend this release for normal computer users. KDE 4 is too unstable and unfinished (even the 4.1.3 update does not fix that. The first time I started KDE after the update and clicked on the Mandriva menu button in the panel, plasma crashed…), even GNOME has annoying flaws (the gnome-screensaver-dialog hang when the screen is locked is a major annoyance for me, because I hit this problem numerous times a day), OpenOffice.org is still an RC version with known and fixed bugs,…

Hifi stuff

Speaking about music, it’s really time that I get some decent hi-fi gear, because my old stuff is actually crap and barely works anymore. I need a stereo amplifier, tuner and a pair of loudspeakers. I’m tempted by the Focal Chorus 816V speakers, which seem to get positive reviews, together with a Marantz amplifier (I have some experience with them, and like them a lot). I was thinking of a Marantz PM8003, but I don’t think it’s yet available here, and I really need something now. Either I could get the older PM7001 KI, or just the PM7003, about which I read some positive comments on a Dutch forum. The Denon PMA-1500AE could be yet another alternative. I’m not sure about this yet, so if anybody has any comments or experience, you’re welcome :-)

Last week I ordered the tuner already. It’s a Marantz ST7001 DAB tuner. While I’m quite skeptical about the quality of DAB (160 kbps MPEG 1 Layer 2 defnitely cannot be CD quality), and DAB reception quality could be difficult here (it’s very realistic that there will be drop-outs in the signal now and then, so maybe I’ll need to try with a better antenna), I can always fall back to plain FM with this system.

7 Replies to “Various things”

  1. “It’s disappointing that there are not better QA procedures to prevent such a major breakage.”

    It’s manpower, again. The security team is basically Vincent. He has no ‘on site’ QA and he doesn’t have time to test everything himself, he’s massively overworked as it is. Looping everything back through Paris QA – who already tested the packages in /main/testing before they got to Vincent – would add *more* delay to releasing updates.

    All updates are tested. The problem here is that Evolution packages have to be built in a specific order. The ones in /main/testing, which the QA team tested, were built correctly and worked. Vincent, as a security team policy, rebuilds and resigns all official updates for security reasons. Unfortunately he didn’t see Fred’s instruction to build them in the correct specific order, built them in the wrong order, and that caused the breakage.

    “The first time I started KDE after the update and clicked on the Mandriva menu button in the panel, plasma crashed…”

    Did you file a bug?

    “OpenOffice.org is still an RC version with known and fixed bugs”

    The final version will be shipped as an update soon, Rafael tells me. OO.o is a pain as it’s so ridiculously huge. Building it takes forever.

  2. > All updates are tested.

    No, they are not. What is tested is a package in the testing repository which resembles the update package very much, but are not the final update itself. That people make errors, is normal and expected, but what is not normal, is that there are no full proof procedures which make that that these major errors (Evolution does not even start up) are spotted before breaking people’s systems in production.

    This error could have been prevented by moving the package from testing to updates, instead of rebuilding it, so that the final update is identical to what has been tested.

    In order to prevent linking against other unrelated stuff in testing, all builds of update packages to be released together, should happen in a clean build environment, only containing main and updates packages.

    Anyway, I just hope that lessons will be learnt from this problem, in order to prevent such bugs again in the future.

  3. Adam, รจ unuseless that you continue to suggest to file bugs. You just said that there is a lack of manpower and that you can’t process all of this bug, if you suggest to file other bugs they will remain without resolution or fix.. i (and others) have serious bugs that are ignored, maybe it will be better to resolve those 5000 bugs before opening others…

    Openoffice 3.0 final version has been done for mandriva 2009 only some days after the official release by the MIB, why it takes so much time for Mandriva developers? ah, it works perfectely.

  4. I hope mandriva gets better. They are one great distro. 2007 was alright. 2008 was steller. 2008.1 was hot stuff. 2009 was what? I hope they get better. Especially in the management area. I think they need more going in the management area for the distro to be better. To a waning future.

  5. >> “The first time I started KDE after the update and
    >> clicked on the Mandriva menu button in the panel,
    >> plasma crashed…”

    > “Did you file a bug?”

    Sorry Adam, but there’s already plenty plasma crash bug in bugzilla …

    > GNOME has annoying flaws (the gnome-screensaver
    > dialog hang when the screen is locked is a major
    > annoyance for me, because I hit this problem
    > numerous times a day)

    +1.
    I did a blog post about this also : http://linux-wizard.net/index.php?id_blog=239
    Presently I will not upgrade my workstations to 2009.0, especially the KDE ones.

  6. > The lack of manpower has always been a problem, and this will only become worse now. Especially seeing that most Mandriva employees are currently working on OEM stuff, and almost the whole Cooker distribution is now maintained by the community. Even big updates like KDE 4.2 beta, X.org 1.5 and others, are almost entirely being done by the community.

    Frederik,
    what do you mean by “almost the whole Cooker distribution is now maintained by the community”? Is Mandriva’s cooker done by non-paid volunteers? Surely there must be Mandriva employees working on distribution 2009.1, no? Or does Mandriva only provides the infrastructure and is all the coding done by the community? I thought the core business of Mandriva was to produce a Linux distribution.
    I don’t understand this, I’m confused.

  7. Currently most Mandriva employees are not working on Cooker, but on OEM stuff: most of the new packages entering Cooker during the last weeks, were done by volunteers or by the 2 persons whose contracts are ended…

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