As some of you might know I create/update packages for Ubuntu for the GetDeb project. What the project tries to accomplish is supply updated or newly created packages that aren’t in the Ubuntu repository. Ubuntu is sometimes late with updates for packages, like the official repository still has Pidgin 2.2.1 while 2.3.1 has been out for quiet a while and maybe a few days after it’s release you could download the latest version on GetDeb. One of the reasons why Ubuntu hasn’t updated their version yet is because of the focus on the new release, Hardy, and because of all the patches they create themselves.
All these patches have to been thoroughly tested if the package needs to end up in the official repository and my guess is that most developers rather work on Hardy then the update in Gutsy. By creating all the patches you also create a huge obstacle for yourself, every time an update of a program is released you have to put the program through quality assurance and maybe create updates for your patches. At Getdeb we do test our programs before releasing them but we don’t have the manpower to test the programs so they are flawless. It’s close to bleeding edge.
There is a a whole team of programmers, about 20, creating Pidgin to make sure it work flawlessly. I tend to believe most of these programmers know the source code of Pidgin pretty well and here we have maybe on or two Ubuntu developers making Pidgin compatible with Ubuntu. I am not dissing the Ubuntu developers but I think that’s just crazy, why can’t Ubuntu just use the official Pidgin release? Why? Because of patches created for other programs that interact with Pidgin.
The whole update process would be way quicker if the Linux distribution would be able to run unpatched programs. OH wait, Ubuntu can do this. If you you download Firefox or Thunderbird from Mozilla and install it, it will run, no problems what so ever. So why they patch the official release is beyond me.
I wonder if there is a “vanilla” Linux distribution out there. With “vanilla” I mean a distribution that uses the official releases of packages. Now I understand that you might want to change the location of a installed program but that is a configuration patch, not a source patch. Maybe Slackware is a vanilla distro but I haven’t played with Slackware long enough to make that statement.