[Replicant] Decision to not create a Replicant 6.0 SDK

Wolfgang Wiedmeyer wreg at wiedmeyer.de
Thu Apr 13 17:25:42 UTC 2017

Hi all,

some of you might already have noticed that I was spouting my opinion
about how it's not worth working on a Replicant 6.0 SDK over the last
months[1][2]. But we never had a final verdict among Paul, Denis and me
or the community as a whole about this. I think we should decide if it
should still be a priority to create a SDK or if it should be something
that someone can create if they feel to, but it's not a goal that is
actively pursued by the project.

I will summarize my reasoning again below why I don't think that it's
worth it to work on this. I just like to have the decision on this
before the Replicant 6.0 release, so this can be addressed in the
release blog post. It might even warrant its own blog post and I would
prefer to do a dedicated post about it if we agree on my proposal.

The Android SDK is packaged in Debian, even the same API as the
Replicant 6.0 SDK would have. Debian even has build tools packaged that
are not available in the SDK, like gradle or the gradle plugin. Some
advantages of the Debian Android SDK over a Replicant 6.0 SDK:
* properly build from source without relying on Google's prebuilt
* build is reproducible
* only an "apt-get install android-sdk" away
* Debian developers actively work on packaging more target APIs,
  something we basically can't do
* Debian Android SDK is exposed to a lot more users and has more
  developers, so there will be less bugs and they are fixed a lot faster
* Debian developers have packaged or are packaging more tools and
  libraries that would not be available in a Replicant 6.0 SDK

So my proposition is to not work on a Replicant 6.0 SDK, but to get the
Debian Android SDK into more distributions, especially GNU
FSDG-compliant ones. A blog post could address this and encourage users,
that are interested in a Replicant 6.0 SDK, to work with the developers
of the distro they are using to get the Debian Android SDK packaged in
their distro. If we agree on this strategy, it would be good to clarify
some of the things below before writing a blog post, so we can provide
more specific instructions on how this goal can be reached.

Is it correct that Trisquel and Parabola are the most popular
FSDG-compliant distros? It looks like the next release of Trisquel (8.0
Flidas) will be based on Ubuntu 16.04. Ubuntu 16.04 has the android-sdk
packaged[3], but it's not complete as some packages didn't make it in
time. android-sdk-platform-23 which is the actual target platform is
only in Zesty (17.04)[4]. Are there some Trisquel folks reading along
that could chime in on this? Would it be possible to get the rest of
the needed Android packages included in Flidas by backporting them from
newer Ubuntu releases? Are there other procedures to get packages
uploaded and included in a Trisquel release? The SDK will likely end up
in Trisquel at some point in the future, but it will probably take a
very long time without doing something about it now.

Hans-Christoph Steiner from the Debian Android Tools team addresses
uploading to other distros in a mail[5]. I didn't yet see any efforts to
get the SDK properly packaged in Arch Linux or in Parabola for that
matter. Arch only seems to have packages that download the SDK from
Google's servers without building it from source. Maybe some Parabola or
Arch folks can comment on this? What would be the best strategy to get
the packages into Arch? I guess if they are in Arch, they will show up
in Parabola as well, at least eventually.

Best regards,

[1]  http://lists.osuosl.org/pipermail/replicant/Week-of-Mon-20170320/001247.html

[2]  https://lists.alioth.debian.org/pipermail/android-tools-devel/2016q4/002316.html

[3]  http://packages.ubuntu.com/xenial/android-sdk

[4]  http://packages.ubuntu.com/zesty/libandroid-23-java

[5]  https://lists.alioth.debian.org/pipermail/android-tools-devel/2016q4/002325.html

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