Gentoo: A critical look at the QA process

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The QA team has said that there is some sort of “policy” on masking packages that break reverse dependencies. I’ll subscribe that that policy for the sake of not breaking users machines on purpose, however, let’s take a look at the current case study: poppler-0.16

package.mask (in context, name removed because it isn’t needed):

+# Masked because of ABI change, breaks
+# depending packages. Keep masked until depended packages
+# got fixed (adjusted dependency or fixing version bump).
+# tracer bug 349918

…and there was some discussion on IRC. The QA team (at least a few members) says that the “tree is broken” with poppler-0.16. At time of this writing, 7 packages were reported on the tracker bug and 2 were fixed already. So, it is my opinion that progress for Gentoo is hampered because of this masking. I’ll explain why but first the different theories to package testing that I have observed.

Theory 1: