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Re: [Pan-users] New version of pan ?

From: Valeryan_24
Subject: Re: [Pan-users] New version of pan ?
Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2011 11:52:37 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en-US; rv: Gecko/20110111 Lightning/1.0b2 Shredder/3.1.8pre

Hi Duncan,

Thanks a lot for your quick and complete reply.

Your mail confirmed what I was afraid of, not seeing any news about another Pan release since last summer discussions. That's also one of the limits of FLOSS, some excellent programs, really useful, depend from only 1 person, and when (s)he has no more time / willing / ability to continue, often even with available source code, projects stops... Sometimes there are fork, or months after a new developer comes, for programs which are common (like twitter clients, clipboards managers), you can find easily another one still active, even if it was not your preferred one.

But for newsreader, as you wrote it, choice is very limited, that's why I'm also sad to see Pan so "quiet". I think that Usenet is not going to die immediately, it still has a great interest, but you're right Linux newsreader offer is getting old.

As I told in my first post, I have zero knowledge about programming, I am an "advanced" user but not developer. Yes regarding patches, I was referring to K.Haley ones, because I read on the mailing list he had helped a lot to improve Pan, and yours - I should really try to learn how to use Git to update programs used... I just run Ubuntu official repositories and maintainers ppa to install and update the softs.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but your last paragraph seems to confirm what I think, as a lot of patches / improvements have already been committed to pan, perhaps it wouldn't be a too difficult or long task to compile them to have a new version of the program ? I don't know how it works, so this is really a basic question.

Perhaps it is "boring" or so... In this case, would it be possible to find this White Knight at least to package existing code, with a financial help (like bounty features payment) ?

I mean, I'm unable to code any row, but the way I try to help opensource softwares, in addition to use them and tell my friends / coworkers on their interest and philosophy, is to report bugs, participate in wikis, documentations, french translation, or do donations to developers (directly on their site, or via Flattr).

As I luckily can, regularly I do small donations to many projects, but I could also give more to one project / developer to code a soft / feature I need (but this would not be thousands $ of course...). So question is: regarding today's Pan situation, available patches / code, do you have an idea how much time it could take to update a new version and create rpm / deb packages available in last 32 & 64 main distributions, and correct future critical bugs ? Just to know if this is something realistic or utopic, if it could interest a developer with free time, a student, what it would cost etc...

I just speak here on the programming task, your mail also refers to the project leading, and that's also another responsibility.

Also, as Lacrocivious Acrophosist said, Pan 0.133 is still usable and works fine, I have no idea (because I did not read them) of what new patches / bug corrections are about, but I think : "they exist, it's a pity not to see them included in a new updated pan version". And more, seeing Pan again active, this could mean more users, motivate new people to participate.

That's why I made this post, I hope something is still possible.

Best regards,


Le 15/01/2011 03:16, Duncan wrote:

Valeryan_24 posted on Fri, 14 Jan 2011 09:34:19 +0100 as excerpted:


First I'd like to thank all developers for Pan program, which allows us
to get a very good newsreader on Linux since years.

I read this summer on the mailing list that there could be a new
released version of Pan which would have all the patches and
improvements made by participants since pan 0.133 beta.

On this list, rather active, we read a lot of messages about these new
functions, from pan creator and new contribers.

So I just wondered if this new version was still planned and should be
soon released ?

This is absolutely not a critical post, just a question from an user
unable to compile development versions.
Being brutally honest, I'm not sure what the direct short answer to your
question is, but things aren't looking good. =:^(

Unfortunately, pan's status as a traditional package with periodic
official upstream releases is seriously in question right now, and I can't
honestly tell you there'll ever be another (or that there won't, for that
matter).  It makes me sick to say it, but (again) being brutally honest,
what we're watching now is how many open source projects ultimately die.
If something doesn't change, it's more a question of when to give up and
call the mortician, than if, altho thankfully we've not reached that point
yet as there's still both an active user list (this one) and active
community development (centered around KHaley's git repo, as you probably
know given your references).  But Charles Kerr has publicly stated that he
really doesn't have the interest any more in being pan's head developer
and official maintainer as he no longer regularly uses newsgroups at all,
and without someone else to take over, the official version gets more and
more stale (even tho distributions continue to apply patches so it'll
compile and run on newer systems for a time, typically years, and
translators likewise continue their updates for some time, as can be seen
in the official upstream gnome repo), until at some point distributions
cease to consider it worth the trouble and drop it as a package.  When
that happens, an app's discoverability goes down and it essentially ceases
to bring in new users, so all that's left are the few old timers, which
ultimately migrate to new systems and generally find themselves dropping
the package as too hard to continue to update on their own, save perhaps
for a core following, who continue to update and compile from the live
sources repository, until it too dies, at which point they may continue to
patch it on their own for awhile, until...

So what we really need is a good developer with enough interest in pan and
enough familiarity with gtk/gnome to volunteer as project maintainer.
Charles has repeatedly hinted at such and recently has come right out and
asked for it.  Unfortunately, while pan does seem to still have a
reasonable number of users, I'm not the first to observe that there's
something about development in the FLOSS community that encourages
interest in new technology, and the old nntp protocol and text-based
newsgroups are apparently simply not new and interesting enough to get a
lot of FLOSS developer interest, these days.  As such, nobody with the
requisite skills seems particularly interested in pan, leaving us where we
find ourselves...

There are two arguably reasonably technical people remaining active in the
pan user community, as measured by this (and the pan-devel) list.  I'm
one.  KHaley's the other.

But I don't do either C or C++ code, and recently I bit the bullet and
admitted I probably never will, or if I do eventually learn it, I'm not
likely to ever be particularly /good/ at it.  Besides, I'm a kde not a
gnome person, who'd be using a kde news client if a decent one existed at
the time I chose pan as a project I wanted to involve myself with, helping
on the lists/groups (I do this list, as all the lists I participate in, as
a newsgroup), and who really doesn't like or agree with gnome
policies in general, so even in the event I became a good enough
programmer to do it, I'd forever be fighting the gtk-ness of pan, and
might well choose to work on a kde news app instead.

And KHaley... well, I'm not speaking for him (her?), and I must admit I
don't fully understand why he doesn't volunteer for it as he's basically
doing most of it already with the community repo he runs, but he's made it
plain he's not particularly interested in filling that official role, for
whatever reason, and that's his right as it's certainly a volunteer job,
thus not forceable (not that we'd want to force it, but if I had an extra
few thousand dollars laying around, I'd consider asking if someone would
be interested in doing it for a sponsorship, and he'd of course be first
on the list).  Whatever the reason, tho, that option seems off the table.

Which leaves pan with nobody both interested and with the skills to be the
official project maintainer, presently, on its slow way toward death as a
viable FLOSS project, if no "white knight" programmer with a pan interest
comes along to save it in the time remaining before it loses viability to
the point that distributions drop it, or immediately thereafter.  Of
course, as with any FLOSS project, it could be resurrected after that as
long as sources are still available /somewhere/, but realistically, the
distribution drop event is the last real chance at catalyzing a result,
bringing it back from as near death as projects tend to get, and still
come back.  And given the activity level for the official package,
realistically, that event's probably closer than those of us here might

Oh, well...  Personally, it's been years since I did binaries (not
opposed, I simply find other things a higher priority) and my ISP bowed to
economic demand reality and dropped news as a bundled service last year so
I have even less opportunity to take it back up now as it'd be an extra
cost to do so.  That means the list2news service is about my
only use, now, and that's (nearly) all text.  As such, tho I've not tried
it recently, kde's knode would probably do the trick for me about as well
as pan does, and there's other Linux news clients out there as well, if/
when pan ceases to be a viable option.  Plus gmane's all mailing lists
(and rss feeds, gwene) anyway, so I could either switch to the mailing-
list-native format or use the same webmail that so many others do and thus
do web format for my lists, if it came to that.

Really, like it or not as us old fogies will, nntp itself is slowly fading
into history, so it's no surprise pan as an nntp client, is fading with
it.  I do hope that pan finds that white-knight maintainer and it's
certainly sad to watch it die, but if that white-knite doesn't appear,
when the time comes, I'll survive without it, as I suppose everyone here

Meanwhile, this post wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention again how
thankful I am, and I guess most here are, that KHaley has taken the
interest that he has, providing the community repo and aggregating all the
patches as they've appeared, in addition to working on new ones.  That's
significant service in itself, and will make the job of any white-knight
that should appear far easier than it'd otherwise be, in addition to
helping pan continue to in itself extending pan's community activity and
thus claim to life. =:^)

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