support to be removed from Debian Squeeze: call for volunteers

From Thomas Goirand on xen-devel:

Dear everyone,

Bastian Blank – which is the person (among others, but mainly him) that is packaging Xen in Debian -, has decided last summer that he doesn’t want to deal with the qemu-dm of Xen, thus removing Xen Qemu and support for HVM in Debian. Here is what he wrote:

http://lists.alioth.debian.org/pipermail/pkg-xen-devel/2009-July/002366.html

http://lists.alioth.debian.org/pipermail/pkg-xen-devel/2009-July/002382.html

Many people have expressed their concerns about this regression.

Before anyone flames Bastian Blank, I’d like to highlight the fact that maintaining a PV dom0 in a distribution needs quite some work, he does it for free, and that he should be thanks for his work within Debian, rather than being blame for his maintainers choice. If he is not interested or doesn’t have time to maintain the Qemu version of Xen, he has right to do that, and in fact I think it’s not a bad idea to have a binary package separated from the hypervisor itself.

Now, if the qemu-dm binary have been removed from the hypervisor packages, nothing prevents anyone to make a new Debian package that would have only the HVM bits of Xen, depending on the hypervisor package, and then having it uploaded to SID (so that it would go in testing later). Later, we could ask the maintainers of the xen-linux-system package to add yet another dependency to the new “xen-hvm-support” package that we would create (are you ok with this new package name?).

The issue here is that Squeeze (the current Debian testing) is said to be going to be functionality frozen next march. That means that if we want to have a xen-hvm-support package in the next Debian, and recover from Bastian’s choice, then we need to act FAST, otherwise after the deadline, there’s a big chance that the release managers will not accept the package into testing.

I am quite comfortable with Debian packaging myself, so I believe I can write Debian packages with a quality good enough to enter the distribution without too much hassle. I manage already a dozen of packages in Debian, and I intend to add even more. But I do not feel comfortable enough with the Xen sources to do it alone. So I’m calling here for volunteers to work together with me on this package. I also don’t want to be the only person responsible for the package, as I wouldn’t be able to address any security bug fixing issue (as I don’t know the internals of the Xen and Qemu code, and don’t have the time to dive into it). Someone that is willing to do this job of security maintenance HAS to raise hand here, otherwise I will NOT shoot myself in the foot by asking for an upload of a package that would have a bad security maintenance team (this is the kind of behavior that people hate in Debian, which I think is right: no package with poor maintenance should enter the distribution).

Mainly, the work would be to have a script (or some Makefile entries with DESTDIR= for example) that would install all needed files in debian/xen-hvm-support (if we call that package xen-hvm-support). Also, the source package should contain ONLY what is strictly concerning Qemu-dm (not a big issue, but it would be cleaner this way and make the source package smaller). As of now, I don’t know who is maintaining Qemu in Xen at all. Any volunteer here that would work with me does NOT need to know anything about Debian or Debian packaging, but only about Qemu and Xen itself.

Also, I’m not a registered Debian developer (yet), so I can’t upload directly in the distribution without going by a sponsor for my package, which can seriously slow down everything. If a registered DD could raise hand, that would help as well.

I think that the best way here, is to build a (small, 3 or 4 persons) team to work on this issue so it can be addressed fast. I’d like to highlight also, that my company (GPLHost) doesn’t really need the HVM part of Xen (we sell PV only VMs), so I’d be doing it only for the community, and not for myself. So please volunteer, as this is the only way it can work. Best could be to create a project in Alioth (which I never did, maybe someone else who had this experience should do it for the team), or anywhere else. GPLHost can host the git repository and/or web space for that.

If you are interested in helping, please contact Thomas or myself.

Thomas