Xubuntu GitHub Proposal
Starting with the 20.10 cycle, I would like to move Xubuntu repositories to GitHub. Doing so makes it easier for contributors to join and submit contributions to the project, while also reducing many of the headaches of managing and reporting on project data.
Summary of Changes
- Move all Xubuntu codebases to GitHub, under a new Xubuntu organization.
- Mirror all of the GitHub codebases back to Launchpad for LP-specific integrations.
- Move to Transifex for translations, under a new Xubuntu organization.
- Make members of Xubuntu Council and Xubuntu Developers “Owners” of the GitHub organization. All members of ~xubuntu-team become “Members”. Xubuntu subteams are created as “Teams” of the Xubuntu organization. The new Teams are given access to their project repositories.
- Launchpad Git is still not tightly integrated with the rest of its features, so we miss out on many of the benefits of Launchpad.
- Launchpad Translation Teams have seen a decline in activity, and our translation support has likewise decreased. Related to this, the bureaucracy to join the Ubuntu Translation teams (to be able to contribute even suggestions to translations) can be a daunting task, sometimes even next to impossible, if language team leaders are inactive.
- GitHub is one of the largest platforms around for developers and open source contributors. Many potential contributors already have an account. Merge requests are much easier, for both contributors and maintainers. Its web IDE makes it easy for non-developers (documentation and others) to submit changes and for maintainers to accept them.
- Transifex is active with contributors and has been a major success story for Xfce and other projects.
- Various flavors, including mainline Ubuntu have moved their code to or started new projects on GitHub. Likely for the same reasons listed above.
- GitHub includes a large number of (easier-to-manage) management tools, and reduces the need for custom solutions like our Development Tracker.
Potential Downsides (Cons)
- An additional area where permissions need to be managed
- Outside of the Canonical ecosystem, so support varies
- Some users and contributors may be opposed to using GitHub for various reasons
- Ubuntu-only contributors have to sign up for 1-2 new services (GitHub/Transifex)
- Xubuntu project bug trackers are moved to a separate system, meaning non-ubuntu bugs cannot be closed with uploads. To find all bugs affecting Xubuntu, two platforms have to be used.
- A lower barrier of entry may mean more low-quality suggestions that require additional time moderating.
- Create a new Xubuntu organization on GitHub, assigning individual members of ~xubuntu-council and ~xubuntu-dev as owners of the organization.
- Create teams under the Organization, mirroring our current team structure on Launchpad.
- Create new projects for each of our codebases, granting teams access to the repositories, with team leads added as maintainers.
- Mirror all of the new projects back to Launchpad and reconnect integrations.
- Create a new Xubuntu organization on Transifex, and configure project translations. Translation commits can be pushed automatically.
- Update documentation and website content for the new locations.
- Migrate Launchpad bugs to GitHub. Update package-related bugs for the new upstreams.
- Migrate Launchpad blueprints to GitHub projects.
We transitioned all of our code to the Git VCS two years ago with the 18.10 cycle, citing the following reasons.
Xubuntu and its various projects have used Bazaar since the beginning. Bazaar has served us well in the past, but there are several compelling reasons for us to transition. And the Xubuntu 18.10 cycle is the perfect time for us to move.
- Consistent Workflow: Git is now used by all of our upstreams. Debian, Xfce, and Shimmer Project all use Git. Upstream contributions become easier with a familiar process.
- Familiarity: Git is one of the most popular version control systems for open source projects. New contributors are more likely to have used Git in previous projects.
- Development Activity: Git continues to be actively maintained and supported, with regular releases and bug fixes. The last Bazaar release was over two years ago.
- Application Support: Many applications provide support for Git in one way or another. Thunar's VCS plugin and Geany's GeanyVC plugin provide addon support for managing Git repositories. Atom and Visual Studio Code, two of the most popular IDEs available for Linux, have native support for Git.
Meanwhile, we highlighted the following issues:
- Linking Series to Git Branches: This is currently not possible. Series only help to identify which code branches are associated with each version lines. Instead, consider pushing each version line as a separate branch in your project.
- Translation Imports & Exports: Launchpad does not currently support automatic synchronization to/from Git branches. Instead, you can create an git-to-bzr code import, and import translations from this Bazaar branch. You can periodically download the translations for a project and sync them manually.
Unfortunately, little has changed in the last two years. The issues we identified then are still present, and require unusual workarounds or additional processes to make work at all. This means that daily packages don’t include translations, translation-specific build issues are not identified until the last minute, and that several releases might be tagged without the translations that happened in between.