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Re: Build errors in GNATS 4.2.0 on Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS

From: John P. Willis
Subject: Re: Build errors in GNATS 4.2.0 on Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS
Date: Sun, 22 Aug 2021 11:34:45 -0600
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:78.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/78.12.0

On 8/22/21 11:11 AM, Chad Walstrom wrote:
John P. Willis <> writes:
So it appears that a good deal of work needs to be done to bring GNATS
forward and make it compile properly on current systems.

Should I attempt to go further, or are the GNATS developers already
working on something in an official capacity? I noticed that GNATS is
also gone from the Debian and Ubuntu apt repositories, since Jessie.

I do not know of any official efforts to bring GNU GNATS up to date with
current compilers. In January of this year, John Darrington approached
me to ask if we should decomission the project. I agreed that if we
didn't see renewed interest in the project or someone to take over
maintainership, that its time has probably come.  It has been five years
since any work has been done on GNU GNATS (Alex reported a bug and
submitted a patch in 2016). Is now the time to pick it back up again or
to officially set it down?

GNU GNATS holds a unique space in its approach to bug tracking, and it
has quite a rich history. However, there have been many FOSS competitors
with features that align closer to how people manage their projects

One thing that might be of note is that NetBSD still seems to use GNATS
as its official bug tracking system. Perhaps the pkgsrc-specific patches
that keep GNATS available in their official repositories do some of the work needed? Per the legal requirements of the GNU project, it would seem any such work would need a sign-off from its authors prior to being integrated in the upstream project, especially given the rather copyleft-hostile institutional ethos of NetBSD. Though, I'd also think the NetBSD folks would have a vested interest in seeing upstream development somewhat renewed, if they indeed wish to continue using it in production.

Personally, I feel that having a CLI option that's clearly free software rather than open-source, and also /not/ /primarily/ a web-based/"cloud"-based solution with a trillion lines of Ruby and Python code, Chef recipes, Docker containers, and all sorts of other bloated, baroque, and labyrinthine hooey, makes GNATS worth maintaining for the future. I have a hope--albeit faint and fading--that simple software will see a renaissance as the technical debt of over-engineered projects comes to a head.

The last bit of work I had done for GNATS was an attempt to migrate the
CVS repo to git using ESR's reposurgeon. I had gotten quite close, but I
feel I got stuck in the minutia of history preservation. I should have
cut-bait sooner and gotten something out there for people to play with.

I've not used reposurgeon, but have read/watched information about it from ESR. Seems like a good tool, though if I were to tackle this project, I'd probably just stick with CVS in the early days in order to focus on getting the software buildable/usable, prior to advancing the status quo on version control.

So, this is primarily an email asking what level of interest there is
for continuing to maintain or support GNU GNATS. If you're using the
platform and have the time, let us know. If you are interested in
becoming a GNU maintainer and would like to adopt this project, please
let us know! Join Savannah and get on the project member list!

Coincidentally, I have recently gotten a Savannah account, as I have another package (interpreter for the MUMPS programming language and database) that I hope one day to offer to the GNU project.

I have a good deal of interest in GNATS, and could afford to put a few cycles towards it, especially as a companion to my own projects. It would obviously take some time to grok enough of the codebase to get productive with it, and initial successes would probably be sub-optimal, but getting old software compiling on new systems is something with which I have recent and pertinent experience.


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