First things first. Those of us involved in this project had an internal debate from day one whether to cover Devuan development or not. All but one person here, yours truly, argued that Devuan would never be able to overcome and change the psychopathology evident in Debian developer community and the inherent elitism against the common individual user. If you are not directing the departmental budget of an IT enterprise nobody in that community would give a rat’s penny of what your problem may be. Seeking help as a common user you must put up with tons of unsubstantiated arrogance, irony, and elitism. This is also evident in the DNG list where devuan developers and their pre-split backroom buddies are larking, pretending they are Devian without the infrastructure of Debian. It is like a life-raft’s officers and buddies pretending to be the officers operating a supertanker.
Debian pioneered the support of user anonymity in incorporating tor technology into their repositories and even making their repositories have an onion address to be reached if tor+http://repository..adrress wasn’t enough. Devuan seemed as to replicate this ability! But did they? For a while now, a few months, the use of this service had become very erratic. Suddenly the announcement of new Devuan repositories (beta version of amprolla3) came with an answer that the onion address that Devuan lists on their front page “has been already forwarded to the currently beta version of amprolla3, pkgmaster.devuan.org” but the administrator of the repositories had neglected to clarify this when that change took place. A forgiven neglect to inform those exposed to a beta system? Let’s say in the world of open and free, tired freelancers, and lack or resources many crimes can be forgiven. The entry to such a system is just as open as the exit, anyway! But apart from the list there is a Devuan forum. According to the administrator NO ONE involved in Devuan as a developer is ever in that forum. Apparently not even out of curiocity would anyone involved in Devuan would look at that forum. Why? We don’t know!
For months now, there were repeated discrepancies between http, https, and tor, access to the repositories. (if you need technical information on the issue look up on Debian’s website what apt-transport-https and apt-transport-tor are all about). This wasn’t evident on a daily basis as nothing was developing in Devuan ftom late July till late fall. It was evident when switching from Debian to Devuan, or from Devuan Jessie, to testing (ascii), or unstable (ceres). Depending on which protocol you used to reach the repositories a different amount of files had to be removes, upgraded, newly installed, etc. If you did not upgrade anything and just hit the repositories in three different ways you got a variety of inconsistent results.
Recently with the porting of OpenRC and eudev from experimental to testing (Ascii) the issue came back again. You could install OpenRC and eudev using pkgmaster through http but through tor the package was available but many dependencies were missing. Only the person evidently related to Refracta responded to the puzzle. The only possible explanation that resulted from this puzzle was that with http the problem was not reproducable while with tor it remained. Suddenly a couple of days later the problem was not there any more. With tor the dependencies were all there. Nobody in the forum came out to explain why it did and why it didn’t. And this was a repeated behavior on that specific inquiry. When cornered the “forum administrator” would clarify that those involved in Devuan, the project, are not in the forum. The same admin gets offended if one would underming her role as a non-developer. So this brings a question back to who is who in this “project”. What is Devuan, who is Devuan, and what is Dyne corporation providing the forum, website, wiki, and who knows what else for this faceless ghost of Devuan. But if we value anonymity and freedom on the internet why would we want names? It is not names exactly but collective responsibility for the project. It is all hasty and distributed in non-responsible entities. Is Dyne to be help responsible for Devuan? Is the forum administrator? Who makes Devuan and why? What is the goal and direction of Devuan? Is Devuan what Dyne projects Devuan would be?
And there is another side project promoted by Dyne. It is called heads. A system based on Devuan attempting to replicate tails. Not only is this thing disfunctional and rarely updated, which is of extreme improtance in such a project, but the core tor-browser built in it works nothing like the original tor-browser. It actually violates rule number one for tor-project’s browser. The browser starts independently of whether there is a tor network active or not. Nowhere in this Heads project does it state that torporojects code has been hacked and modified. Months would go by, verious editions of tor, browser, etc, would come out but heads would remain unchanged. Even when a new one does come out the “bug fixes” say nothing about what the bugs were and how they were fixed. Same response to the bug we identified months ago. Silence!
But Heads is very strict and high on “free”, no-contrib, no non-free stuff on heads. Debian’s silliness with “free” relates to stuff that have non-“corporate” hinges on them. It says nothing about “public organizations” and any attempt to free yourself from them! In light of this meltdown and spectre frenzy these may be minor details to a huge problem, but still help define the “character” behind the project (Devuan and Heads).
The responses, or should we say the suspicious silence on the issue, to the http/tor discrepancies, the eagerness of the forum administrator to dilute and get the questioning of this discrepancy covered up by deviating from the topic, when the same person acts as a cop of people deviating from topic, escalates the suspicious feelings. Apart from the discrepancies between the protocols reaching pkgmaster (a simple IP forwarding from onion network to the rest of the network) there is also the problem with speed. It acts as the slowest onion address in the onion universe. As if someone has plugged a single core server in the end of the line in Tasmania or North East Mongolia, to act as an IP forwarder. Those who know a thing or two about tor know that the time period exposed to that network works against anonymity. In contrast in Debian to many people the response rates of the onion address is normally faster than http, possibly due to constantly overloaded mirrors.
Is what we claim reproducible? We don’t know, just try it. What if today is not reproducible for us either? Is there trust to continue tolerating the silence and dealing with the problem? How many times would a new installation have to break because of it before one can understandably give up? All distributions at first are unknown entities. Trust and relationships are built through a period of direct experience. Once trust has reached bottom it can hardly be expected to be built again. For us it reached zero or below that. Despite of how much we hoped and expected for Devuan to do and to be we came out empty handed. Simply stated, solely using http://pkgmaster you will never be comfortable that what you have is what everyone else is having. Need we say more?
Unfortunately this means goodbye to Refracta, Devuan-OpenRC, Miyo-Linux, and Vuu-do. Extremely good work and dedication and some of the nicest people anyone will ever meet in the GNU/Linux community. Of course refracta can be used with pretty much any distribution that is Debian based or related, and the possibilities of porting Refracta to other distributions is something we look forward to. But Refracta as a fork of Devuan has reached a point where it will no longer be carried on this site, and this we regret deeply. We wish the best to Refracta, Miyo, Vuu-do for the all the good work they have done. We also wish we had the capacity and knowledge to fork out Ascii with OpenRC to another distribution and move from there independently, because there is importance in this project as it is defined. Unfortunately we don’t have this capacity to carry such a project onwards.
So whether you like to keep following Devuan and its development or not we can’t have a say on it. We can simply ignore it all till clarification comes out of what is going on. And there was in the past anxiety expressed by Devuan’s idleness and vanishing as an ongoing project (July-November 2017). Apparently the project was by 5 people, one stepped aside, and a new one had come in. This is all that was explained and the new person joining was in charge of the repository servers and structure. Then packages slowly started evolving again.
We shall let it rest and please let us know if anything ever changes in that camp. We are wrapping all Devuan installations we had for testing purposes in dd mothballs just in case there is light in the situation and questions ever begin being answered collectively “by Devuan”, not Dyne, no friends of Devuan, not from insider mediators, but Devuan itself, if the project DOES HAVE A VOICE!
PS we have hired a crew to take down and rearrange the headers of the site as to signify our discontinuity in coverage of Devuan.
PS2 Reference to forum discussion before rupture https://dev1galaxy.org/viewtopic.php?pid=7367#p7367 and an earlier incident of installing OpenRC through tor https://dev1galaxy.org/viewtopic.php?pid=6906#p6906
PS3 After this article was published the forum admin responds as : there is no onion address for ascii. This is bullcrap my dear. The onion address, as by announcement addendum of the repository master, is forwarding to pkgmaster.devuan.org and that “single” repository incorporates equally jessie, ascii, ceres, sid, experimental, devuan and merged, and there can not possibly be a separation. Why is it working on and off and partially, why did it work for ceres and is not ascii, mind boggling that such a silly response would even be considered as a responsible answer. On the second link above it contradicts what fsmithred reports as at a following day what didn’t work it does work, through tor, and ascii!
Except if the onion address IS NOT pointing to pkgmaster which means you have been lying through your teeth the whole time about where the onion address has been pointing to!!!!!