Tag Archives: commercial companies

Commercial companies and (the lack of) changelogs

As a Debian maintainer, I got a habit of reading the changelog of packages I install or want/need to upgrade. My problems begin with these packages come from some commercial compay, as most of them don’t log their changes.

Oracle’s OCFS2 RPMs have this “useful” changelog:

* Fri Jun 23 2006 Sunil Mushran
– Add largesmp

* Sun Jan 25 2004 Manish Singh
– Initial rpm spec file

and

* Fri Jan 28 2005 Manish Singh
– Add ocfs2console

* Sat Jan 22 2005 Manish Singh
– Initial rpm spec

That’s a start, but not very informative one. The packages were last updated on November 2007, the changelog doesn’t mention the various changes done on the packages.

Skype’s Etch deb file has this changeog entry:

skype (1.4.0.118-1) extra; urgency=low

* Added Changelog for compliance with debian rules.

— Skype Technologies <info@skype.net> Wed, 10 Aug 2005 17:50:14 +0300

When I read that my reaction was “gee, thanks for the changlog”. I’m glad companies recognize the debian policy and comply to it, but let’s not forget the files is there to have some substance. Having a empty (or a place holder) changelog isn’t the real essence of the debian policy rule.

These are just two examples I encountered, but these are also the companies who actually wrote a changlog. I see a lot of packages which have an empty changelog.

I know companies work differently from community projects, what I fail to understand why don’t provide more information about their products. They all have “a support matrix”, tons of documentation and such, but when I want to know if I can install the new package easily – I don’t have this info, and usually the documentation doesn’t mention these technical changes.

So, my message for the commercial companies: you have a lot to learn from community projects, especially for those companies what want to be a part of the free software world. We (the community) usually have a high standards and we expect you to keep them.

I’m sure you’ll also benifit from these standards, if you’re not already enjoying it.

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Filed under Proprietary software