Handling big or scary migrations

<quote who="Rodney Dawes">

> Nobody has made it an excuse. The icons didn't disappear. They were
> symlinked to another icon. It's been that way for 8+ months. And not a
> single person has complained or filed a bug on it, until now. I would
> consider linking to the wrong icon to be a bug. However, it hasn't come up
> in the past 8 months.

I think there's a really important lesson to be learned here regarding big
or scary (in change management terms) migrations. This migration came up in
the last release process and was regarded as inappropriate, but it has been
done in substantially the same way for this release process: break and see.

For changes of this magnitude, we need broader developer coordination and
buy in. That means announcing things clearly, documenting a migration plan,
and ensuring that both developers and the release team understand what is
involved in the migration and what the desired outcome is.

I'm not saying we need to rabidly formalise any change we make - but for
significant changes that will impact everyone, and expose all kinds of
potential bugs, we *do* need maintainers (or whoever's leading the change)
to take responsibility for the entire thing, and make sure everyone's on the
same page. Luckily, there are very few massive changes that would require
this level of oversight... But when it's needed, it's *desperately* needed.

Distros have to manage changes like this all the time - we're getting to a
level of complexity internally (which is not a bad thing, just a reality of
building a complex graphical environment) that we need to build up our own
methods of handling big migrations. A wiki page with goals, a description of
the change, a list of the modules impacted and desired outcomes would be a
big help. If the change has to be drawn out, regular status updates on d-a-l
would be very helpful too.

Things to consider for our next big change management scare. :-)


- Jeff

linux.conf.au 2007: Sydney, Australia           http://lca2007.linux.org.au/
                 "No shit, sherlock holmes com " - Mr. Bad

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