[Ubuntu] The Future of UbuntuGIS

Alan Boudreault aboudreault at mapgears.com
Tue May 12 15:54:35 EDT 2009

Hi everyone,

As you probably saw, I have accepted the role of despot of UbuntuGIS.
This email is to inform you about what is UbuntuGIS and what my plans are.

Main Goal

As most of you know, Debian and Ubuntu do not have up to date Open
Source Geospatial packages. That is due to the cycle that the packages
have to go through before being included in a specific
release. Normally, Ubuntu packages are synchronized (if there is no
Ubuntu maintainer) with the Debian unstable packages. A Debian package
goes through the following cycle:

   experimental -> unstable -> testing -> stable

That's why the Debian stable distributions are known to be
very stable :) . So, a new release of GDAL (i.e: 1.6.0) has to be in
the experimental distribution before going into unstable... and before
being synchronized in Ubuntu. You can understand that it's hard to stay
"up to date" with the latest releases of upstream packages in this context.

The goal of the UbuntuGIS team is to provide an up to date Ubuntu PPA
with a suite of the best Geospatial Open Source Software (specially
those of OSGeo). PPA means "Personnal Package Archives" (a
repository), a service of Launchpad. What this means for Ubuntu users
is that simply by adding the UbuntuGIS repository corresponding to
their distribution (in sources.list) they will automatically get
access to the latest and greatest UbuntuGIS packages.

Why do I not plan to be a "real Ubuntu maintainer" ? By "real Ubuntu
maintainer", I mean to be an official package maintainer and to have
the responsibility to upload packages directly in the next Ubuntu
release. The reason is simple: I don't see any benefit in doing
this. The packages are already synchonized with DebianGIS (that does a
really good job already). Here's two other consequences to not have a

- If a new version of a software (i.e GDAL) is released on May 1st. It's
   too late: a new Ubuntu Distribution has been released in April. All users
   will have to wait until October to get the new release of GDAL. (We could
   add a backport, but that's another thing)

- If a new release of a given package is only included in new Ubuntu
   releases then users who want that package would have to upgrade
   their entire distribution to be sure that the package will work

A benefit of using a PPA is that we will be able to build and publish
packages for more than one distribution. So, users wont have to upgrade
their distribution just to have the new software releases.

Distribution and Software releases

My plan is to support one year of Ubuntu release. That is 3
distributions. Currently, the task is to keep the packages up to date for
the following 3 distributions:

- Hardy
- Intrepid
- Jaunty

As soon as the next Ubuntu release (Karmic) will be released, hardy
packages will not be maintained anymore. Obviously, if it's not possible to
update a package in a older release due to dependencies problems, it wont

UbunguGIS PPAs

As you can see on the UbuntuGIS launchpad page:
https://launchpad.net/~ubuntugis , I have created 3 PPAs:

ubuntugis-stable : I am not sure that this one will be used. The universe
                    Ubuntu repository should already contain the "stable"

ubuntugis-unstable : That one should contain all up to date packages.

ubuntugis-testing : This one will be used by maintainers for new
                     package versions and tests.

UbuntuGIS Requirements

- SVN repository: To share the packaging work between maitainers.

- BUG Tracker: Due to some limitations of launchpad, we can't create a bug
               for a specific PPA/Team. We need a bug tracker to allow
               users to report a bug about our packages and/or request a
               package update.

UbuntuGIS Community Requirements

- testers
- package maintainers
- users  :)

If you want/can help UbuntuGIS, let us know on the mailing list:


For your information, my primary language is not English (if you
haven't noticed yet :P). It's French. Don't hesitate to talk to me in
French and/or correct me if what I wrote is not clear or is totally
wrong. I will be glad to improve my English.

All thoughts and opinions are welcome!

Best Regards,

Alan Boudreault

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