When Geary 3.34.0 is out next week, Debian's package (which is still 0.12.x) will be 2 years and 3 major releases out of date. πŸ™‚πŸ™ƒπŸ™‚πŸ™ƒ

@mjog (thanks for the warning! I'm switching to the Flathub version now!)

@espectalll ikr? Even Buster shipped a version that was over a year old. 🀯

@mjog More seriously though, Debian should either keep up or just admit that it's not intended for desktop use.

@mjog A 3 year old base OS is unacceptable in an age where apps can ship new versions (targeting the latest SDK) any time via Flatpak.

Having at least a semi-recent base OS is a necessity, both functionally (because you might be missing new portals etc.) and UX wise (design patterns/guidelines change over time).

@mjog Just because we have Flatpak now that doesn't mean you can run an old OS with new apps, as some people seem to think.

It means the OS needs to stay in sync with the Flatpak SDK, because that's the what app developers target.

@mjog I agree with your point of view but I would like to go deeper. I'd like to know if this is for a technical reason, so this points a very deep flaw in how Debian maintains software for desktop use, or if this is because of a desaparecido maintainer, and this would mean the Debian project doesn't enforce strategies to maximize potential contribution impact fron newcomers that could maintain the package.

Dunno what it's worse πŸ˜‚

@dottorblaster it's part social, part economic, part technical, part bureaucratic.

Social: The old maintainer was great, but (IIRC) a volunteer and at some point dropped out.

Economic: The Debian GNOME team picked it up, but AFAICT many people on the team are Canonical employees, and presumably since Geary isn't part of their core app set, they have bigger fish to fry.


Technical: Geary 3.32 was actually packaged in experimental but suffered FTB on s390x and PPC arches. The FTB was caused by WebKitGTK bugs on those platforms when running unit tests as part of the Geary package's build.

Bureaucratic: WebKitGTK not having its tests run as part of its build (they are explicitly disabled) and hence not getting the same FTB errors, but since Geary is, Geary is the package that is not getting updated.

@dottorblaster To be fair, this isn't a problem just Debian suffers, any volunteer-based distro will also have the same problems at some point (FreeBSD's port is still on 0.12.x as well).

Basically it's just another case in point for the argument that distros should stop trying to package everything in the known universe, and only package things they can commit to and effectively support.

@mjog I completely agree and thank you very much for such a complete answer. One thing I found very cool was the Arch approach to this: you have core, a subset of packages to whom maintainers pay extra attention, extra in which you find regularly maintained stuff, and the AUR that is a third party sea of stuff for which you know you can't expect regular maintainance, also not officially "packaged" nor "supported". It worked well for me I have to say

@dottorblaster This isn't much difference from other distros though, Ubuntu has main/multiverse/universe and PPAs. Fedora has COPRs, etc. So I don't think that's a solution to the problem. In any case, nearly every distro has a concept of a "core" set of packages, if only to determine what goes into their base installers, and these packages are usually well supported - they have to be. Which is great.

@dottorblaster However support for everything else is quite variable: Maybe the packager is very diligent packaging new versions, maybe they aren't. Maybe they validate and forward bugs upstream, maybe they don't.

Having a distro in the way (and possibly making arbitrary changes to the software that is packaged) for these packages just makes life harder for the people that use the software, and makes it harder for developers of the software to fix bugs and get new releases out.

@dottorblaster I'd much rather have distro package maintainers help out upstream instead. Collaborate on packaging Geary for Flathub and work on their distros to make the Flatpak experience there flawless, doing QA and test the Flatpak package running on it. Help get distro crash reports into Geary's bug tracker, and triage and diagnose distro-specific problems (I'm looking at you, PopOS) there. That would be much more useful than duplicating the packaging effort for every distro.

@mjog I was talking about the AUR in my previous toot but *of course* this would be a better solution, a solution that nonetheless lowers the barriers between one distro and another and lets distros be what they really were born to be decades ago: a base system and a set of nice defaults.

Coning to our case: if I run a Debian with that old stinky webkigtk package, I can still use the latest Geary from the FlatHub, right? (I'm asking to test my knowledge of how Flatpack works)

@dottorblaster Yeah I think there's a similar understanding about PPAs and COPRs. Still, I'd rather people use an official build though, it eliminates a whole class of problems when dealing with bug reports.

Anyway, yep the GNOME Flatpak runtime ships WebKitGTK, so you could run it on an older Debian. However the host OS still needs to have sufficiently up-to-date versions of Flatpack, the portals, and their dependencies, so it's not entirely a free ride.

@mjog OMG I was pretty sure I answered this. Sorry!

The real difference is that Arch packages a very small subset of things, and AUR explicitly tells you that everything for that repo is a community effort and you are strongly encouraged to edit PKGBUILDs and stuff

@mjog can you not just ask them to remove it from the repos? Given an email client has a large surface area of attack, isn't it safer for them not to ship it than ship an older version.

@flussence Deleting out of date packages from distros? Yeah totally! :)

@mjog I was thinking more along the lines of β€œposts every time a package more than a year outdated in Debian gets a new release”, but that might get ratelimited quickly

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