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Bits from the ftp team

In an effort to increase our visibility (besides those pesky REJECTs
From NEW) we decided to post a little mail in the style of the famous
“Bits from whoever” you all seem to love.
Hi everyone,

in an effort to increase our visibility (besides those pesky REJECTs
From NEW) we decided to post a little mail in the style of the famous
“Bits from whoever” you all seem to love.


As this is our first such mail, let us start with a little
introduction. We are the ftpteam, currently consisting of

– the FTP Masters
Ryan Murray
Joerg Jaspert
– and the FTP Assistants
Thomas Viehmann
Jeroen van Wolffelaar
Kalle Kivimaa.

Our job is maintaining the archive, a fairly complex task, that comprises
things like

– accepting NEW packages[1], if they can be accepted, a policy decision
which we have to take on a daily basis. While we do not have any
exact numbers on this, we estimate the rate of NEW uploads to be
between 5 and 15 a day that have to be processed.

– removing old packages[2], if they fit some criteria like being
unmaintained, old or very buggy.

– support our release team in their effort getting the next release
done by providing whatever is needed to keep our testing distribution

– do the releases, be it stable point releases or a completly new one.

– keep a second archive running to enable our security team's work.

– do whatever else is needed to keep the important infrastructure part,
our archive, running. A significant amount of time is spent on various
maintenance tasks that hopefully go mostly unnoticed and the above
items are just enumerating the most visible activities.

Recent changes

As you might have noticed there have been a few changes in the structure
of our team in the recent past. First we got two new FTP Assistants[3],
Thomas and Kalle, and a little while later Joerg was promoted from FTP
Assistant to FTP Master[4].

Last month Anthony Towns resigned from the team[4], this week James
Troup has followed him and stepped back from his position. We want to
thank both for their long term support and the huge amount of work they
put into this important Debian task over the years.

Since those staff changes we also had a good number of changes in the
code and how various archive related things are run, many of which too
small to warrent a mention in a mail to this list. If you want to
also read about them, you might want to look at the FTPMaster category
in Joergs blog[6] (aggregated on Planet Debian[7]), as he keeps this
updated. A summary of the most important changes:

– The release transitions[8] feature has been finished and allows the
release team to block uploads of certain packages to ease the
handling of large transitions from unstable to testing. As you
may have noticed by the release team announcements on this list
it already has been used a few times since it was deployed.

– We fixed various smaller bugs in the archive software, dak, which
lead to various unwanted actions, up to a crash of it.

– Britney, *the* central tool of the release team to manage the testing
distribution, finally lives with the release team[9], where it belongs
to, and is no longer run by us.

– Various improvements targeting our QA group got implemented. We do
signal them now when we start a “dinstall”[10] run and whenever the
mirror on the qa host is updated. We also store
more information in our central database that helps them to show
better / more detailed information on the QA pages.

– We finally send out a copy of every mail to sponsors. We only do that
if it is a sourceful upload and if the sponsor did not disable their address, but that does hit about 99% of the cases where
we want it to work.

– We added some new and long-awaited pseudo packages.

– After a Developer asked for it we implemented a new Debian standard
for mail headers, we now add X-Debian: and X-Debian-Package: headers
to all generated mails.

– As said earlier, there are many changes done too small to be
mentioned here and you might want to read the already mentioned
blog. In case you want to know even more the code lives in a public
readable bzr repository[11].

New ftpteam members wanted
While we just had a few changes in our structure we think that a few
more helping hands can't hurt. If you are interested to help out, please
contact us at and we might invite you! :)
A few caveats apply:

– you should be able to invest at least 5 til 10 hours per week into this
role, basically forever,

– need to be able to deal with sometimes not very popular
decisions. People do not always like it if you reject a package, but
that is no reason to allow bad ones in. If you can't stand a bit of
flames / don't like to take hard decisions, this is no job for you. :)

– need to be able to deal with all the existing team members :)

– must love to read and deal with legal texts, like licenses and their
effect on the package in Debian. The ftpteam is *the* one place to
decide if something is ok for Debian to distribute or not, and you
will have to take this decision

– need a very good understanding of the archive, how packaging works,
know qa processes and the general way things are dealt with in
Debian. This job will throw you right in the middle of all this.
You just have to know the basics of about every programming language
you can imagine (and all those you can't but that are still there),
of all the different packaging systems people use. NEW will present
all of them and more stuff you never heard about and you need to be
able to dig through it, searching for possible bad things.

– be able to read and write python. At least if you want to understand
the code behind our archive, or even want to help maintaining it.

– We keep the right to refuse *any* candidate for whatever reason.

Some time after this mail we will give a few tasks to those who
volunteer to test their ability and then (maybe) have a few new members
in our team in the not too distant future.

URLs and Footnotes

[10] dinstall == installation of uploaded packages into the archive

— bye, Joerg vorlon: you must be a fjp subordinate Myon: I have an fjp shrine next to my collection of svenl voodoo dolls

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