Paul Boddie's Free Software-related blog

Paul's activities and perspectives around Free Software

A Note on Kolab and Debian Packaging

I thought it might be helpful if I wrote a quick note about my previous work on Debian packaging and Kolab. As my blog can attest, I have written a few articles about packaging and the effort required to make Kolab somewhat more amenable to a convenient and properly functioning installation on Debian systems. Unfortunately, perhaps due to a degree of overambition and perhaps due to me being unable to deliver a convincing and/or palatable set of modifications to achieve these goals, no progress was made over the year or so I spent looking at the situation. I personally do not feel that there was enough of a productive dialogue about aligning these goals with those of the core developers of Kolab, and despite a certain level of interest from others, I no longer have the motivation to keep working on this problem.

Occasionally, I receive mails from people who have read about my experiments with Debian packaging or certain elements of Kolab configuration that became part of the packaging work. This message is intended to communicate that I am no longer working on such things. Getting Kolab to work with other mail transport/delivery/storage systems or other directory systems is not particularly difficult for those with enough experience (and I am a good example of someone who has been able to gain that experience relatively quickly), but integrating this into setup-kolab in an acceptable fashion ultimately proved to be an unrealisable goal.

Other people will presumably continue their work packaging various Kolab libraries for Debian, and some of these lower-level packages may even arrive in the stable release of Debian fairly soon, perhaps even delivering a recent version of those libraries. I do not, however, see any progress on getting other packages into Debian proper. I continue to have the opinion that this unfortunate situation will limit wider adoption of the Kolab technologies and does nobody but the proprietary competition any good.

Since I do not believe in writing software that will never be used – having had that experience in a professional setting where I at least had the consolation of getting paid for such disappointing outcomes (and for the waste of my time) – my current focus is on developing a low-impact form of standards-based calendaring for existing mail systems, without imposing extensive infrastructure requirements when adopting such a solution, and I hope to have something useful to show in the fairly near future. This time last year, I was much more upbeat about the prospect of getting Kolab into Debian and into more people’s hands. Now, I only wish that I had changed course earlier and started on my current endeavour considerably sooner.

But as people like to say: better late than never. I look forward to sharing my non-Kolab groupware developments in the coming months.

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