Debian Chromium Developer Needs Help

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craigevil
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Debian Chromium Developer Needs Help

#1 Post by craigevil »

Quoting Andres Solomon:

"I'm currently the only active maintainer for the chromium package in
Debian. This really needs to be maintained by a team, especially since
it requires security updates for stable at least two times per month.
It is likely that chromium will not be included in the next stable
release (bookworm) unless there's an active team maintaining it, as
described in <https://bugs.debian.org/1004441>. I've done a lot of
simplification of the chromium patches and packaging in order to make
it easier for people to join the team.

There are lots of available tasks to do, depending on someone's skill
and hard
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Re: Debian Chromium Developer Needs Help

#2 Post by canci »

craigevil wrote: 2022-08-02 15:13 It is likely that chromium will not be included in the next stable
release (bookworm) unless there's an active team maintaining it, as
described in <https://bugs.debian.org/1004441>.
Here's hoping! If npm and some other packages would disappear as well, this would make Debian even more ethically viable.
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Re: Debian Chromium Developer Needs Help

#3 Post by Head_on_a_Stick »

canci wrote: 2022-08-02 17:30 this would make Debian even more ethically viable.
What is ethically non-viable about an open-source alternative to Google Chrome?
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Re: Debian Chromium Developer Needs Help

#4 Post by canci »

Head_on_a_Stick wrote: 2022-08-02 17:44 What is ethically non-viable about an open-source alternative to Google Chrome?
When comparing software for ethical viability, I don't just have code openness in mind.
I tend to also look at
* whether the software has a history of tracking, surveillance
-- Google is a bad actor in this sense and the nasty example where Google Chromium code was uploaded into Debian repos with opt-out microphone surveillance is appalling.
* whether the software is contributing to mono culture or vendor lock-in, which Google does and which a lot of web devs seem to be pushing by making their websites ignore standards and run much worse on Firefox et al.
* The third point is political and more subjective, but as a leftist, I'd prefer free software (in opposition to "just" open source) to remain as free as possible from corporate meddling and meta-interests that hurt free software and individual user software freedom in the long run. That might mean giving up the web completely in the long run, and that's thanks to the sort of culture companies like Google create.

Being able to say that my distro doesn't include Chromium would actually give me a sense of pride, as romantic or infantile as that may sound.
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Re: Debian Chromium Developer Needs Help

#5 Post by Head_on_a_Stick »

canci wrote: 2022-08-02 18:31 * whether the software has a history of tracking, surveillance
-- Google is a bad actor in this sense and the nasty example where Google Chromium code was uploaded into Debian repos with opt-out microphone surveillance is appalling.
But it could be argued that the example in question illustrates the importance of an open-source alternative for those who are forced to use Chrom{e,ium}. Some sites will only offer certain features with that browser. If people only had access to Chrome then the microphone surveillance would not be optional and if Chromium weren't open-source it wouldn't have been found.
canci wrote: 2022-08-02 18:31I'd prefer free software (in opposition to "just" open source) to remain as free as possible from corporate meddling and meta-interests that hurt free software and individual user software freedom in the long run.
Isn't restricting the availability of an open-source alternative to Chrome an example of hurting individual user software freedom?
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Re: Debian Chromium Developer Needs Help

#6 Post by sunrat »

Absolutely agree with Head_on_a_Stick. Google a bad actors and a less egregious spy browser is essential in Debian for those sites which have been ruined by web devs coding to only work properly in Chrome.
I use Chromium for 2 sites, otherwise Firefox for everything. When using Chromium I feel a little dirty, but being forced to use Chrome would be like being held on the ground while someone shits on my face.
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Re: Debian Chromium Developer Needs Help

#7 Post by pwzhangzz »

I have just begun to feel comfortable about using Chromium, please don't drop it from bookworm. If Chromium is discontinued we will have to go back to Chrome. We are using Debian 12 for our everyday desktops, having to use Chromium/Chrome is just a fact of life. I would definitely like to help maintaining the Chromium package but it very likely will require an arduous learning process. For those who can instantly help, please do so, or at least list steps that can help easing the learning curve for those mortals of us.

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Re: Debian Chromium Developer Needs Help

#8 Post by canci »

Head_on_a_Stick wrote: 2022-08-02 19:34 Isn't restricting the availability of an open-source alternative to Chrome an example of hurting individual user software freedom?
Well, it's this age old question by Popper: How much freedom do you permit to those who restrict our freedoms?
And then again: How practical is it to pretend for others that you're doing them a favour by making them complicit through the support of such software.

I'm not advocating for the eradication of such software. I'd be happy if it were in contrib for example. Maybe one could amend the rules for contrib to also include software from bad faith actors. Additionally, Chromium remains available via Snap or Flatpak.

But am I sorry for Chromium potentially disappearing from Main? Not really, no.
And I'm sure the dev will find other stuff to maintain. It's not like someone who's capable of maintaining a browser couldn't do other stuff eventually.

And about using Chrome being "just a fact of life". Guess how we got there... Surely not through the boycott of Google products.
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Re: Debian Chromium Developer Needs Help

#9 Post by wizard10000 »

I was actually glad to see the maintainer reach out for help. I think those of us running development builds of Debian have had chromium issues for years; I switched to Firefox myself about a year ago because it seemed like about every other chromium release ended up being broken.

Too much work for one person.
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Re: Debian Chromium Developer Needs Help

#10 Post by pwzhangzz »

I live in a metropolitan area with slightly over one million people. Most of our local public high schools have ditched Windows/Mac in favor of Chromebooks. Even our city council has also switched to Chromebooks, mainly because of its easy management. Chromebooks actually provide an unexpected smooth transition to Linux (customized Debian) desktops if the users are willing to be so persuaded. Some students can use a persistent Debian LiveUSB on their home computers, interchangeably with their school issued Chromebook without major problems. The key link in the smooth transition is the the ("much maligned") Chrome browser, especially its apps especially wrt Docs/Sheets/Slides/Drive that students use everyday. Replacing Chrome with Chromium (if we could) is a good thing. But trying to replace Chrome with Firefox? Don't overestimate (sadly) the intellectual level of (the great majority of) US public high school students (and politicians). Or the general public.

So much for the above nonsensical words. If some Debian old hands can ease the steps of how to provide helps, it will be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Debian Chromium Developer Needs Help

#11 Post by Shamak »

canci wrote: 2022-08-03 06:32 And I'm sure the dev will find other stuff to maintain. It's not like someone who's capable of maintaining a browser couldn't do other stuff eventually.
This dev is a full Debian Developer. He relatively recently took over Chromium. I used to keep an eye on Chromium before he took over because I was never sure it was going to be updated. But when Andres Salomon took over it was kept very up to date. But yeah, it requires a lot of updates. It must be a lot of work.
Last edited by Shamak on 2022-08-04 00:18, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Debian Chromium Developer Needs Help

#12 Post by Shamak »

I like having Chromium in the repositories in case something doesn't render in Firefox. I appreciate not having to worry about the stability. Although some members of this forum have said that in fact Chrome doesn't affect the stability of Debian.

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Re: Debian Chromium Developer Needs Help

#13 Post by trinidad »

Chrome/Chromium blink based browsers have had ongoing issues due to the removal and replacment of old outdated code and newer web standards. Handling the ongoing changes seems like it would be nightmarish for a single Debian packager/developer. Onion soup has multiple coders & developers.

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Re: Debian Chromium Developer Needs Help

#14 Post by cynwulf »

Many of the key components of any given Linux distribution are owned/developed/funded by corporations. chromium is an application you can avoid - at least for now.

google are in the top 5 or 10 in terms of contributions to the Linux kernel - simply because by far the most prolific "Linux" is android. The next largest parts are server and embedded. Desktop hobbyists are a tiny niche, which the corporate world, and by extension the developers on their payroll, are not prioritising. google are also listed as one of only two named sponsors to SPI (who in turn provide funding to the Debian project, X.org and many more).

This is precisely one of the reasons why a labour intensive, desktop web browser package is not seeing that much interest from potential maintainers - I can't say I blame them. (Building chromium from source also takes hours)

The real issue with chromium is the establishment of a browser mono culture, worse than the situation we had with MSIE back in the day. Forking webkit/webcore to blink, which isn't portable, was just a typical business move by google. The alternatives to chromium tend to be chromium, with a different name, logo and some other tweaks.

Firefox - a 'real' alternative to chromium - is funded by google. google have Mozilla Corporation by the balls - they effectively own the only viable competition - and that's why there really is none. Even Microsoft gave it up and joined the mono culture, once they knew it was inevitable.

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Re: Debian Chromium Developer Needs Help

#15 Post by trinidad »

The real issue with chromium is the establishment of a browser mono culture
Exactly right !!

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Re: Debian Chromium Developer Needs Help

#16 Post by sunrat »

cynwulf wrote: 2022-08-04 14:00Firefox - a 'real' alternative to chromium - is funded by google. google have Mozilla Corporation by the balls - they effectively own the only viable competition - and that's why there really is none.
Google only funds Firefox to avoid monopoly antitrust lawsuits from governments. Mozilla doesn't even develop Thunderbird anymore, I guess because Google don't have a competing email client.
Monoculture is slowly infecting many aspects of life, particularly food production, and it's a scary eventuality. One just has to look at the sorry state of food and health for an indicator of where software development is heading.
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Re: Debian Chromium Developer Needs Help

#17 Post by cynwulf »

google are no stranger to anti trust suits. I'm not sure that some token Firefox funding in itself is going to fend off that kind of thing - but perhaps keeping a perceived competitor on life support does contribute. But as the chromium browser is "open source" anyway, there are numerous spins on that which may count as "competition". It's more so google design decisions (usually relating to the data collection/advertising aspects) which it has made with chrome, chromeos and android which have attracted big lawsuits rather than simply the dominance of the browser.

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