BSPs and Triage and squeeze

Some people want Debian 6.0 (codename "squeeze") to be released sometime this year. Personally I think there is some kitsch value in releasing it during DebCamp or DebConf, and there is something to be said for doing it just beforehand so that everyone can break unstable into insanity while rolling around on the quad under the hot August sun. Some people want it to happen sooner, possibly as soon as possible. Irrespective of your preferences, or if you care at all, we will repeat the time-honored mantra: it will be released when it's ready.

Readiness is somewhat of a subjective measure, but we typically do not consider a potential release ready when the RC bug count is high. There are a lot of RC bugs right now. Typically these are fixed at some point by their maintainers. There are also some self-motivated individuals who enjoy fixing these bugs themselves, and this practice predates the RCBW initiative, though perhaps not to the same level of combined intensity and endurance. Then there are bug-squashing parties, or BSPs.

A BSP can be held “virtually” which means that a bunch of people get together online and say that they are having a party, or it can be at a designated physical space. I attended one of the latter type not too long ago.

This BSP was targeted specifically to newbies or people who might feel that they are unqualified to help squash bugs, but wished to learn how to contribute. Some group and one-on-one mentoring occurred, in areas of how packages are put together, how to patch things, how to submit patches to the BTS, how to reproduce bugs, and other more problem-specific topics.

I really don't know how successful this endeavor was since getting metrics on the effectiveness of teaching has been a historically difficult problem. On the other hand, we did spend a fair amount of time actually squashing bugs, which is a bit easier to assess. One problem we had was that some people liked to be loud and distracting and demand unreasonable amounts of attention for topics that had nothing to do with bugs, Debian, or free software, but we made progress regardless.

Marc Brockschmidt thinks we need more BSPs and more focus on bug triage. Bug triage can be very demotivating and many people dislike doing it. BSPs seem to have powers of motivation through group camaraderie or friendly competition, so I would agree that it's worth experimenting with.

Posted on 2010-03-18
Tags: ranticore, bsp, triage, squeeze