FreeBSD has serious problems with focus, longevity, and lifecycle

Mark Linimon linimon at
Sun Jan 22 05:49:04 UTC 2012

On Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 08:07:43AM +0100, vermaden wrote:
> I submit PRs and try to help test them as some developer/committer
> will pick up the PR, submit a patch to test, but it was MANY times
> that the response from developer/committer was way too long that
> I even DID NOT HAVE THE HARDWARE anymore ...

I don't have a magic wand to solve this problem.  I've spent a lot
of time thinking about it and it's just a hard problem to solve in
general.  There are several aspects:

 - so many computers are very broken (specifically, horrible BIOS

 - most committers only have one or two computers that they work with.

 - most committers have their own tasklist, and "support users" is
   something they never have time to get around to.

"support users" is, in general, something Open Source OSes do not
do very well (at least without a paid support staff, as is the case
in some of the Linux distros.)

But what's discouraging for the people that try to clean up the stale
PRs is that they get yelled at when they try to do so.  Thus, they
tend to get demotivated as well.

Support/bug triage is hard and unrewarding work.  People can tend to
feel that they're being blamed for bugs that they had nothing to do
with creating, and burn out.

> Here is one of the messages that I sent by then to the mailing lists:
> ... and NOTHING HAPPENED, no one told me what to do next,
> should I sent a SGML version or anything ... or just GTFO.

I'm sorry that nothing happened, but unfortunately that's common.
Submitters sometimes have to be persistent, and maybe even catch
new committers when they sign up.  Our documentation is certainly
in need of updating.

> What I have done about these 'Ports issues'? I contacted these
> ports maintainers and said that both RC script and AIO support for
> samba should be enabled by default by linking to several threads
> at FreeBSD Forums that the problem is known and exists ... and I
> did not get ANY RESPONSE till this very day, not even a GTFO
> (which would probably be better then nothing).

When you don't get a response from a maintainer, your best bet is to
file a PR against the port.  If the maintainer doesn't respond, then
after 2 weeks any FreeBSD ports committer is free to work on the PR
and, if they agree with you, commit it via maintainer-timeout.

We don't have a way to track emails that various users send to individual
maintainers.  With a PR open, we have a way to do that.  We also track
maintainer-timeouts, and these can eventually lead to a maintainer reset.

> I got these maintainers email addresses from
> page, are they up-to-date there?

They should be, but looking on cvsweb will tell you for certain.  IIRC
on each freshports page there is a link to cvsweb for the port.

> It's not that people does not try to help, a lot tried (and I am still
> trying), but its VERY unpleasant to have awareness, that you dedicated
> your time, tried to help as much as possible, made some steps to achieve
> that ... and no one even cares about that.

I think it's not "don't care", I think it's that "unable to cope with
number of incoming PRs and other requests for changes and support".
As I type this, there are 1122 ports PRs (6272 total PRs).  On most
days, around 40 come in.  It would take a few dozen more volunteers
to be able to keep up with them all.


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