Doing away with changelogs

Eric Mumpower nocturne at MIT.EDU
Mon Apr 17 23:15:16 EDT 2006

I should perhaps start with the disclaimer that I realize the krb5
team has finite resources, and that its goals and responsibilities may
(justifiably) differ from those of many open source projects.

However, it seems the point Jeff and I have been trying to make has
not been clearly understood. Jeff expressed much of what I had wanted
to say, but I'd like to add:

>>>>>> "Sam" == Sam Hartman <hartmans at MIT.EDU> writes:

Sam> A source release is the sources necessary to build a particular
Sam> release.

>From the perspective of a developer, yes. From the perspective of a
user, no: a source release is also a historical snapshot which can
serve (in a number of ways) as an invaluable tool for debugging
possibly-antiquated software built from a given release.

Sam> To do development you are going to need access to the repository and
Sam> bugs database.

If by "development" you mean "contributing to the latest krb5
development efforts," then I agree with your above statement, but I
fear you're missing the point Jeff and I are trying to make. Source
releases provide many things; supporting "development" as you define
it is just one of them. They also allow debugging and systems
integration, and are required by many people who have legitimate
reasons for working with old (and even nominally-obsolete) versions of

>>>>>> "Jeff" == Jeffrey Hutzelman <jhutz at> writes:

Jeff> Someone else can download source, add a feature they like, port to a new 
Jeff> platform, or whatever, and then send you a patch, and they don't need
Jeff> any access to your repository or bug database.

Or, to give a concrete example based on many many experiences I've had
with open-source projects: someone installs a new version of the
MIT-krb5 package provided by their (not necessarily latest) release of
Debian/Redhat/etc, only to discover the new version introduces
problematic behavior. An accurate changelog can greatly simplify
diagnosis, problem-solving, and/or patching.

Jeff> All I can tell you is what I've found working with other 
Jeff> software, which is that it's very useful for source distributions to 
Jeff> include a ChangeLog

I would like to stress this point. Furthermore, tarballs of source
distributions are generally well-replicated in public archives,
regardless of the continued existence of the original project. Your
subversion repository is only available for so long as MIT chooses to
support it.

I think you (or any open source project) do your users a disservice if
you elect to make the availability of valuable information contingent
upon the continued support of a single entity. I'm in no position to
judge whether the costs of including ChangeLog information in your
source distribution are justified by the value it would provide to
your users. But I do want to make sure you understand how useful
ChangeLogs can be to people who are not actively involved in krb5

 - Eric

More information about the krbdev mailing list