There is some sort of rumor telling that the KOffice developers don’t want packages for their beta. Nothing can be more wrong than this, I did spend sometime setting up KOffice’s nightly build for OpenSuSE, because we want packages, and we do release betas for this very reason. I can assure you there is nothing more boring than generating tarball for a release, and we don’t do tarball for people to build on their own, those that do build themself would better build from svn than from a beta. So beta are clearly intended for packagers, so that more people can test and report bugs. The important thing is that those beta are for testing only. Users have to be aware somehow that those packages aren’t intended for use, that if it crashes, destroy your data and makes your girl/boyfriend break with you, well that’s kind of expected (maybe except for the last things, we wouldn’t happen unless you tried to retouch your wedding pictures with krita and lost everything, I strongly suggest you make backup when you use koffice beta, not of your whole hardrive, but of the data you intend to use with it, I don’t think we have known data loss, but we never know). So basicaly, what I am trying to tell is that having packages of the betas for testers is a good things, having packages of the betas for unaware users is a bad things. And don’t tell me, it’s not a big deal we have put them on “non-officialy” supported repository, because everybody do enable “universe”, “multiverse”, “contrib”, “extra”, “whatever”… This is a bad things for the user, he will get a terrible experience, this a bad thing for the distribution, users will think “why do they ship such a piece of junk ?”, this is a bad thing for the project, users will think “what piece of crap, I can’t event make two pages without crashing, I will never use this again”. One can hope, that distributions and packagers care about their users, one can definitely think that they care about themselfs, and I do believe they care about the project other wise they wouldn’t spend their time making packages.
What I just said probably didn’t convince you at all, so lets take a jump in the past, about two years ago, the events happen after the last release of a stable version, 1.6. Sometime after the release, my brother told me “I tried Krita but it crashes on opening any jpeg and png”, hum, weird works for me, I didn’t had the oppurtunity to look at his machine and see what was going on. But a bit later, I saw someone telling on whatever forum “Krita sucks, it crashes on opening any jpeg file, who can have ever release such a things ?” (not actual words, but that was the substance), looking at the detail I noticed the guy is using the same distribution as my brother, my initial guess, since we are not stupid enough to release a version of Krita with a crashing jpeg filter, was that the version of one library differs and we are doing something wrong which works with the version I use, and not with the version of that distribution. It turned out that the distribution was shipping a beta (and yes we are stupid enough to release beta with crashing jpeg filter). The point is that those users had no idea they were installing a beta, and that it would be unstable. They were expecting to be able to use the application for their daily work or activity.
So what I believe benefits everybody is to have KOffice beta package accessible from a specific web page, explaining clearly what those packages are about, so that is easy for testers to test it, and that it wouldn’t hurt users that just want to use it. And if that’s mean no KOffice, because you don’t have the manpower to ship 1.6 packages, well that’s still better than shipping a work-in-progress unstable KOffice. Don’t forget that even if linux users are often knowledgeable in technical aspect, they are users before being testers.