Adoption of Academic Tools in Open Source Communities: The Debian Case Study

TitleAdoption of Academic Tools in Open Source Communities: The Debian Case Study
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsAbate, Pietro, and Di Cosmo Roberto
Secondary TitleOpen Source Systems: Towards Robust Practices 13th International Conference on Open Source Systems
Series TitleIFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology
Date Published05/2017
Keywordscomponents, debian, distribution

Component repositories play a key role in the open software ecosystem. Managing the evolution of these repositories is a challenging task, and maintainers are confronted with a number of complex issues that need automatic tools to be adressed properly.

In this paper, we present an overview of 10 years of research in this field and the process leading to the adoption of our tools in a FOSS community. We focus on the Debian distribution and in particular we look at the issues arising during the distribution lifecycle: ensuring buildability of source packages, detecting packages that cannot be installed and bootstrapping the distribution on a new architecture. We present three tools, distcheck, buildcheck and botch, that we believe of general interest for other open source component repositories.

The lesson we have learned during this journey may provide useful guidance for researchers willing to see their tools broadly adopted by the community.