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Before putting effort into configuring and trying to use a complex open source component, it is useful to have some idea as to whether bug reports or support requests are likely to get a response. I have a reasonable clue for how to do this for the original upstream source of something in ubuntu.

However, when I see a version like: 6.2u5-1ubuntu1, I know that the Ubuntu dev community in particular is responsible for the package. This is particularly true if the upstream source bundle is difficult to build and thus it's clear that whoever made the .deb for Ubuntu did a lot of work.

How can I track the provenance of an Ubuntu debian and get some idea if the people who did it are still maintaining it? Is there some Ubuntu index that maps packages to their packagers?

My example of the moment is gridengine-qmon and friends.

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You can infer some things from the changelog. First off, let's have a look at the changelog in Ubuntu:

If you click on the little expander things you'll see the Ubuntu changelog. In there for oneiric you'll see:

gridengine (6.2u5-3ubuntu1) oneiric; urgency=low

  • Resync with Debian:
    • drop setting -Wno-error, it's already done in Debian package
    • 100-as-needed.diff: new patch, fixes FTBFS (LP: #770777).
    • Rebuild gets rid of binary dependency on openssl0.9.8.

Ok so it looks like last person who touched this packaged synced with Debian, which is good. Now let's look at the Debian changelog:

It appears as though the package is actively maintained in Debian as well, so far so good.

Since someone is actively keeping the package in sync with Debian it's probably a good indication that the maintainer is responsive. What I recommend here is to file a bug against the ubuntu package, and then outline the steps of your problem and then go from there.

There are other things you can do to see how active a community is around the package. For example you can see if the people who touch it post regularly on the upstream mailing list, do they send patches upstream routinely, etc. Though for me personally the changelog is usually a good enough indicator.

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In contrast to debian ubuntu packages are usually don't have their own maintainer. In reality this means that they are very close to the original debian package. This is also the case for this specific package.

Nevertheless:y ou can see on launchpad who specifically uploaded the last version.

You could also contact the debian maintainers and see if they are ready to answer ubuntu problem. Many of them will do it.

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First, this is a very difficult and potentially argumentative and subjective question.

With that being said, my suggestion is this:

Take a look at the upstream project. Many of the Ubuntu packagers that I've seen are all about the packaging, not the bugs etc.

However, you've got to make your own decision - one place to look at includes the launchpad project for the software.

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In the case at hand, I think I'm running into bugs in the packaging :-) – bmargulies Sep 16 '11 at 15:19
@hmargulies, Updated answer. :) – James Sep 16 '11 at 19:02

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