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Par example:

  • firestarter which isn't maintained for 4/5 years.
  • easycrypt which is a gui for truecrypt, while truecrypt comes with a outstanding gui for several years now.
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2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

As part of the creation of Ubuntu, a philosophical choice was made to not have a concept of "maintainer" for individual software packages. While there are many benefits to this, one of the side effects is that for a given software package, there is often no individual who has accepted responsibility to maintain a package, with the result that any package which does not attract anyone's interest in a while may become unmaintained (although it is hoped this is a temporary condition).

Ubuntu inherits packages from Debian, except where there has been a deliberate effort to make some change, so any package present in Debian will be present in Ubuntu, barring very unusual circumstances. As these packages do have someone in Debian who is responsible for making them work in Debian, there is a blanket presumption that they will also work in Ubuntu, which is true for the vast majority of packages, but may not be the case for some specific packages.

Ubuntu also sometimes receives new packages not found in Debian: while it is hoped that whoever decided to contribute the package to Ubuntu will continue to care for it, this is not always the case.

Both methods by which apparently unmaintained packages may be present in Ubuntu are essentially the result of neglect, and are mostly waiting for someone to decide to either remove the packages or make them work (with a strong preference for making them work). Ubuntu is an entirely community-based project, so anyone can do this, although new folk will require a current developer to approve their changes in the beginning.

For easycrypt, after confirming that upstream no longer offered support, I have summarised my investigation, and forwarded the bug to the Ubuntu Archive Administrators, who should be removing the package from the current development release soonish, so that it will no longer be presented for future releases of Ubuntu. A better solution would be also to add a patch to the truecrypt package providing migration support for easycrypt users to use the truecrypt GUI: this needs to be done by someone familiar with the packages.

For firestarter, it appears that there was a patch made which was known to work with Ubuntu in the past, but that it was dropped in a later upload (by the patch author). I don't know enough about firestarter to determine the right solution, but it does appear to be maintained in Debian: someone who uses this tool would need to determine precisely which parts aren't working, and prepare a patch to make them work again, preferably including any required packaging changes to enable immediate upload.

Anyone preparing either of the patches described above (truecrypt transition for easycrypt users or fixing firestarter) may find https://wiki.ubuntu.com/SponsorshipProcess useful as a means to ensure their work is included in Ubuntu.

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Thanks for your very clear answer Emmet. –  leoquant Jul 10 '11 at 21:29

Because not developed anymore is not the same as obsolete; some people like to use firestarter still.

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Could you please explain why easycrypt is still in the off. software sources? Even the dev. explains its an obsolete package: see bug comments. Firestarter comes with security issue's, ubuntuforums policy= ubuntu support warns using firestarter.: ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1797016&page=2 postcount 12 and 13 –  leoquant Jul 10 '11 at 8:24

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