Subject: Re: Consulting MAINTAINER before updating a package
To: None <>
From: Marc Espie <>
List: tech-pkg
Date: 06/18/2007 17:17:40
On Mon, Jun 18, 2007 at 02:45:30PM +0100, David Brownlee wrote:
> 	MAINTAINER currently has two meanings:
> 	  "Here is someone you can talk to about changes to this package"
> 	    or
> 	  "Consult this person before you make any changes to this package"

This does boggle me, a bit.

In my world, over in OpenBSD, the MAINTAINER variable means the person
feels at least partly responsible for the package.  Enough so that they
need to be consulted for any non-trivial changes that may break stuff
(you can't be responsible for something if anybody can change it under
your feet). As a guideline, we still allow two kinds of changes without
consulting the maintainer:
- infrastructure sweeps, where we adjust to recent features of the tree
(in some of these cases, it's too costly to wait for every maintainer to
say okay... it's assumed that the person doing the change has performed
a build, and it's not done by a lot of people).
- to fix some obvious breakage in a hurry (and then, it's still preferable
to have an okay from another developer, be him maintainer or not).

Your first case doesn't look like a maintainer to me. It looks like a handle
to someone who maybe ported the software, and maybe has some insight into
how it works. But no responsibility.

The thing is, if you still appoint such a person as MAINTAINER (with no
actual responsibility), you hinder other people from taking charge.

My personal definition of MAINTAINER is:

person, or group of persons, that feel responsible for the working of
this package, and should be consulted for any important change to the

If people don't want to assume responsibility, and ports are `maintained'
by the `default' address, then so be it.

Adding more definitions and variables will only mean that people will get
more confused and know less about what to do (I assume NetBSD people are
as smart as OpenBSD people, we know that people sometimes already get
confused over our simple definition of MAINTAINERship)...

Treat this as just a comment from the sideline. Just my two cents about
what your point of view implies...