DEX: Bridging Gaps Between Debian and Derivatives

Matt Zimmerman, Ubuntu CTO, has found a way to bridge the ever-widening crevasse between Debian and its derivatives. The Debian Front Desktop was formed last summer in order to bring together these camps, but Zimmerman wants to go a step or two further.

What is DEX?

Zimmerman explains, "DEX is all about action: merging patches, fixing bugs, crunching data, whatever is necessary to get changes from derivatives into Debian proper. DEX doesn’t try to change the way any existing project works, but adds a “fast path” for getting code from one place to another."

Ubuntu has been accused of not contributing code back to upstream projects, but Debain acknowledged that the process for this has been difficult to navigate. The Debian Front Desk seems limited to linking interested parties, but DEX is an attempt to grease the wheels by actually merging code, recording statistics, and updating bug reports. It appears it is going to do the dirty work.

Ubuntu Involvement

One of the first tasks of Zimmerman was to form the Ubuntu DEX Team with the goal of facilitating cooperation between Debian and Ubuntu. With this Zimmerman hope to merge more Ubuntu improvements into the Debian code-base. Several developers have signed on already and are getting their hands dirty sorting through old patches to see which might be appropriate to merge upstream. Once that is accomplished, which seems to be progressing rather quickly, Zimmerman says they will move on to a new todo list.

DEX was set up with all derivatives in mind, so other distributions can form their own DEX team and start contributing to Debian as well. Debian is the genetic code for many projects and a general idea within Open Source and the GPL is to give back improvements. Perhaps more teams will emerge in the coming months.

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