[tz] Preparing to fork tzdb

Paul Eggert eggert at cs.ucla.edu
Mon Sep 20 16:15:58 UTC 2021

On 9/20/21 1:06 AM, Stephen Colebourne via tz wrote:

> The purpose of the fork would
> initially be to maintain the tzdb data set as it was prior to the
> dispute.

Such a fork would arbitrarily discriminate against countries like Angola 
and Niger, and in favor of countries like Norway and Sweden.

A primary goal of the recent patches was to avoid racial or national 
preferences that were present in the previous setup. Arguably these 
preferences were not intentional, or were apparent and not real; 
however, that's not an argument I would want to defend.

Although the problem of discrimination could also be fixed in the fork 
you suggest, any such fix would take considerable work. It couldn't be 
done merely by reverting a patch or two. All this work would be need to 
be done before any such fork could be used by an organization that is 
committed to equity, diversity and inclusion.

Instead of forking, I suggest that we work together to address the 
technical issues raised by the change. I've been attempting to do that 
with the recent "Revert May patch to zone.tab" patch, which Almaz today 
said fixes the problems Google had with region-timezone mapping. I hope 
that we can address remaining technical problems with similar patches.

If the "Revert May patch to zone.tab" patch is not enough, one possible 
path forward would be to add a build-time option along the lines that I 
suggested to Tom Lane in 
<https://mm.icann.org/pipermail/tz/2021-June/030197.html>. This would 
let projects like PostgreSQL generate a tzdata.zi file containing 
whatever backzone entries they choose, though I would urge these 
projects to consider equity, diversity and inclusion issues when they 
make their choices. I have drafted a patch along these lines and could 
circulate it if there's interest.

The idea is to commit to an approach that accommodates users who need at 
least one tzdb entry per country, either via the "Revert May patch to 
zone.tab" or by further patches if necessary.

 > These have the effect of wiping out historic time-zone
 > information on many locations where the data has been in tzdb for many
 > years.

None of the information has been "wiped out". It has merely moved from 
one source file to another, and builds with PACKRATDATA=backzone still 
install all the info in question. This disagreement is not about "wiping 
out" info; it's about what category the info falls into.

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