Package removal efforts

Due to Debian's relatively open development model, a lot of old, unmaintained and superseded packages are still distributed. One of the tasks of the QA team is to find such packages.

Possible reasons to remove a package

Overview

  1. Very Few users
  2. RC-Buggy
  3. Alternatives available
  4. No maintainer upload in the last years
  5. Upstream dead
  6. Maintainer MIA
  7. Never in a stable release

The condition is normally something like (1 and (2 or 3) and (4 or 5 or 6)), while 7 is only a support argument for the removal request.

Explanation

Only packages that have very few users should be removed, the Popcon results are useful to check this. OTOH, packages that have no users should probably be removed.

Packages with release critical bugs should be removed when the maintainer shows no interest to fix it and no user steps up to take over the maintainership.

If the upstream development is stalled, providing the software in the archive does not necessarily make sense, especially if alternatives are available.

Tracking

Tracking the bugs is currently done using usertags. The user is debian-qa@lists.debian.org and the tags are proposed-removal and proposed-orphan.

The nice URLs below show currently tracked packages:

Helping out

In doing QA (and every DD can do that!), you might stumble upon a package that you feel meets the above conditions to be removed or orphaned. In such a case you should file a wishlist bug report against the package in question, explaining why you think it should be removed or orphaned. When doing so, please use the above usertags, so that we can easily track the package as one that should be removed/orphaned.

A template mail and bts command to tag your bug appropriately for a removal suggestion is as follows:

To tag the bugs, use:

To: Debian Bugs Request <request@bugs.debian.org>

user debian-qa@lists.debian.org
usertags 12345678 + proposed-removal
thanks

or, using the bts command line utility from devscripts:

$ bts user debian-qa@lists.debian.org , usertags 12345678 + proposed-removal

(adapt for new bug submission and proposed orphaning)

Eventually, when you think a package is actually ready to be removed, please reassign it to ftp.debian.org to actually request its removal, retitling it to RM: ... -- RoQA .... (Requested by the QA team) tag. Read the fine manual for more details.