Following Fosdem 2010, I’m more and more convinced that in order for our community to progress more rapidly and deeply, we need some more standards to build upon.
I’ve participated to an excellent talk around the joint translation effort of packages cross-distributions, and we clearly need more initiatives like that.
A first one I’m thinking of is a Changelog format standard. The FSF is pretty evasive on it, and many major FLOSS programs have completely different format. I think we now have the sufficient maturity to delegate to the Linux Foundation the realization of a ChangeLog format standard that will contain all the info needed and able to be processed automatically. We need at least for each modification the version, the date and the authors, maybe a tag/id, then lines describing what has been done. I’m sure some other clever people will find more useful info to add, but that should not make 20 pages of specifications. And after that it’s defined, every GNU program could adopt it, as well as the Linux kernel, Apache projects, … and that would help a lot in order of automatic processing of them (for creating some content in packages, to rewrite svn2cl, cvs2cl and create git2cl, hg2cl which would then be more obvious).
Of course, we should also work at improving the LSB and its FHS. Too many packages today place tools in different places for no good reason IMO. Again maturity is high enough to standardize all those places, making cross-distribution work much easier, as well as ISVs work ! Why would partprobe be in /bin on one distro and /usr/sbin on another 😦
There are sufficient reasons to have differences. And we all like that. But we shouldn’t create artifical ones ! So each time it’s possible, we should group and remove all those useless differences which do not bring added value, but create more hassle to deal with Linux. Using the mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org mailing list is a very good start which should be encouraged.