Bug#975075: tech-ctte: Should maintainers be able to block init compatibility changes?

Matthew Vernon matthew at debian.org
Wed Nov 18 17:33:26 GMT 2020

Package: tech-ctte
Control: block 921012 by -1
Control: block 964139 by -1
X-Debbugs-CC: debian-init-diversity at chiark.greenend.org.uk

Dear Technical Committee,

This bug report relates specifically to bugs in the network-manager 
package (#921012, #964139) but has broader implications, particularly 
around what it means to "support the efforts of developers"[0] working 
on support for alternative init systems (I will talk about sysvinit here 
without loss of generality to other non-systemd init systems).

In brief:

#921012 is about changing network-manager to Depend upon "default-logind 
| logind" rather than libpam-systemd

#964139 is about restoring the removed network-manager init script which 
was removed from the package. There is no suggestion that the init 
script was buggy

Both changes are necessary for it to be possible to install 
network-manager on a sysvinit system; it is going to be hard to use 
Debian without network-manager.

Both bugs have sat open for extended periods with no input from the 
maintainer; so I prepared an NMU and uploaded it to DELAYED/14 as well 
as making an MR on salsa[1].

The NMU was declined, on the basis that removing the init script was not 
a mistake; I'm not aware of any rationale being provided beyond that for 
refusing either patch.

I'm afraid the effect of this is that the maintainers of this package 
are making it impossible for other developers to enable support of 
sysvinit. There are people[2] who will (and have) test compatibility 
changes, help with issues with sysvinit scripts, and so on, but those 
efforts are in effect being stonewalled.

The effect of this, and equivalent behaviour in some other packages, is 
that it is going to be impossible to make a useful Bullseye for users 
who want to use sysvinit.

I (and a couple of other interested parties) have approached the DPL 
about this matter on a number of occasions this year, and have tried to 
follow their advice where possible. I regret that it has proved 
necessary to involve the technical committee.

I invite the technical committee to rule that:
* The network-manager init script should be restored
* Network-manager should Depend: on default-logind | logind rather than 
* Similar init-compatibility changes should not be blocked by package 
maintainers unless they are defective on their own merits
* These changes be made in time to be effective in Bullseye



[0] From the wording of the winning option in the 2019 Init systems GR
[1] https://salsa.debian.org/utopia-team/network-manager/-/merge_requests/7
[2] e.g the mailing list debian-init-diversity at chiark.greenend.org.uk of 
people who are more than happy to help with this sort of thing

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