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Is Ubuntu a Compatibility Nightmare for Debian? 638

Posted by timothy
from the divergence dept.
An anonymous reader submits "Following Friday's release of Ubuntu Linux 5.04, Ian Murdock, founder of the Debian project, told internetnews.com: 'Ubuntu's popularity is a net negative for Debian.' He explained: 'It's diverged so far from Sarge that packages built for Ubuntu often don't work on Sarge. And given the momentum behind Ubuntu, more and more packages are being built like this. The result is a potential compatibility nightmare.' Ian suggests a method for averting crisis on his blog."
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Is Ubuntu a Compatibility Nightmare for Debian?

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  • Problem? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:11PM (#12207013)
    Survival of the fittest.
    • Re:Problem? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jarich (733129) on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:25PM (#12207131) Homepage Journal
      Agreed. I've never been a huge fan of "plain" Debain. I used Slackware "in the beginning", then RedHat for years, more recently Knoppix and this weekend I just converted my last remaining Knoppix box to Kubuntu.

      It just works.

      • Re:Problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Professor_UNIX (867045) on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:35PM (#12207204)
        There's nothing wrong with "plain" Debian. I run it on everything I have and it works great. The problem is running stable on anything more is a complete waste of time since it's nearly 3 years out of date. Unless you REALLY like Mozilla 1.0, you're going to have to run testing or unstable. Sarge seems to work fine, but Debian really needs to get off their behinds and get a new stable release out there more often.

        I realize the point is to provide stability and not upgrade willy-nilly like Mandrake or some of the other distributions, but for crying out loud, if your last release was more than 18 months ago you really need to get one out the door. I don't consider the minor updates they've done to Woody to be sufficient... they need to make Sarge stable pretty soon or they'll lose even more people to Ubuntu and other Debian-lookalikes.

        It's rather embarassing anymore even suggesting installing Debian Woody on anything at work since it's such a joke. We're going with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 instead which actually has a sane upgrade schedule. So, I'm not meaning to downplay the contributions of the Debian community, I love it to death at home when running testing or unstable, but suggesting a business run such out-of-date software on their production servers is absolutely ludicrous.

        • Re:Problem? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by alpha_foobar (820088)
          I don't really understand this philosophy. Why is it ridiculous to run stable applications at work?

          I run the testing release of Debian at home, and have just recieved a few snide remarks about Xorg not existing and XFree86 being prevalent. However who gives? I can still run Doom 3 and UT 2004.

          But I really don't see why you would need all the flashest apps on a production machine. Isn't the idea of production that it works and works well? I know management usually through newer and newer hardware at a solu
          • Re:Problem? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by vadim_t (324782) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @06:03AM (#12210188) Homepage
            Because it's not stable, it's fossilized.

            It's hard to set up a reasonable modern server with Debian. For example, a mail server. With Debian stable you get:

            ancient exim
            ancient spamassassin
            no clamav
            etc.

            The problem with that is that you go online and see lots of nice setups explained you simply can't do with the provided version, because it relies on packages a year old, and what's provided by Debian is much older.

            Sure, there are solutions. Mixed stable/testing, backports, building your own. But all of those suck.

            Mixed systems and ones with unofficial sources are error prone. Once in a while something screws up, and you suddenly find that the mail server that was supposed to be just upgraded for a security fix wasn't fully installed, and dpkg won't remove the package... and you're stuck with no mail server until you find a way of fixing it. Sure, at work you should have a test server, but this happened to me at home and it's annoying as heck.

            backports have the additional problem of that you have to trust the site, and that's rather difficult.

            Building your own seems like the best one in comparison, but can also be awfully problematic due to outdated development packages. Ideally you need more than one computer with Debian so that you avoid installing gcc on the server. And if I'm going to build from source I'd rather use Gentoo on the server, where things compile from source wonderfully well.
          • Re:Problem? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jilles (20976)
            There's nothing wrong with the philosophy in theory. There's a lot wrong with the philoshophy in practice. If you install debian stable desktop apps you are running software with many bugs (including security bugs) that are not being patched by the original developers because they've moved on to versions that probably include a lot of relevant fixes & features. In addition you are missing out on four years of significant feature development (the stuff in stable was obsolete when woody was released). Fou
    • Re:Problem? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bonch (38532)
      In the meantime, it's a hassle for everyone (both users and developers). Issues like this are exactly why the "choice is great in all situations" mindset doesn't always apply. Here, we have a Debian-based distro that has gotten so popular that it's creating incompatibility issues. Now imagine if Ubuntu had instead been a group of developers who decided to combine their efforts with the Debian group to improve Debian? We'd have a better Debian and no incompatibility between two popular distros and two co
      • Re:Problem? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Omkar (618823)
        Just like the MS monopoly is a net good thing right? I don't want to have to install two OSs "just to run all the apps out there." Forking and choice are OSS's selling points.
      • Re:Problem? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by fozzmeister (160968)
        Debian Developers, they spend years trying to get thier software to work on arch's that no one ever uses any more and talking about politics.

        I'm all for noble causes, and I do take all the arguments about making software to be multi platform improves the package. But most software is targetted at i386 alone, if your lucky PPC will get a shot and _very_ occasionally some wierd Sun hardware. Now Debian Developers, I'm sure are very good but they can't keep rewriting every package to support multiple archs, I
      • Re:Problem? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:50PM (#12207319) Homepage Journal
        Now imagine if Ubuntu had instead been a group of developers who decided to combine their efforts with the Debian group to improve Debian?

        The people-who-control-Debian isn't always friendly towards new users, novice developers, or people ask simple questions like 'Why is x.org NOT in Debian-unstable?'.

        More often then not, if I ask a question in a Debian forum, IRC channel or here on Slashdot, somebody will basically tell me to shut up and live with it.

        It's this additude which has kept many people from using Debian, and is the same reason why many people are now reviewing Ubuntu.
        • Funny (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ta bu shi da yu (687699) on Monday April 11, 2005 @11:32PM (#12208442) Homepage
          I had the same issue! I once went to #debian on freenode, foolishly thinking that Debian people might want to help me double-check my CUPS article on Wikipedia. Instead, I got a lot of abuse, and after watching the channel members abuse some other guy (for who knows what), I decided this wasn't the channel for me and to leave.
          • Re:Funny (Score:3, Informative)

            by flacco (324089)
            a number of the regulars in #debian are total douchebags to new users. it's perplexing why deb devels with a little more sense of grand strategy don't suggest to them that they shut their pie-holes. #ubuntu is a lot more friendly.

            the self-styled high priests of #debian are free to abuse whomever they want on irc, and to have contempt for newbie-user-friendliness in their software, but they shouldn't cry when their own actions and attitudes help drive a migration to ubuntu.

            that said, i use debian exclus

      • Re:Problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dbkluck (731449) on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:56PM (#12207362)
        Now imagine if Ubuntu had instead been a group of developers who decided to combine their efforts with the Debian group to improve Debian?

        Working with the Debian people can involve more bureacracy and red tape than working with the federal government, and some developers can't stand that. The philosophy of "Choice is Good" when it comes to users having a choice of desktop environments, word processors, etc. is often made, but don't forget it applies to FOSS developers too. Don't like the way a project is organized? Work on something else. Don't like the direction it's taking? Fork it. Choice keeps devs happy.

        • by jab (9153) on Monday April 11, 2005 @09:57PM (#12207860) Homepage
          There is a reasonably simple and very effective solution here. The Debian project supports, and in fact encourages co-maintainers for packages. This is a great way to get more manpower into the process and improve the quality of packages. The co-maintainer doesn't even have to be an official member of Debian if the maintainer sponsors the combined work.

          I am a Debian developer, and one of the packages that I maintain has been patched by Ubuntu. I only found out about it by looking over the Ubuntu patch site [ubuntulinux.org]. What I would like to see is the Ubuntu developer contact me, ask to be a co-maintainer, and get those changes directly into the Debian package. This is good for Debian - we get additional help in doing a good job. This is good for Ubuntu since they don't have to re-merge patches every six months. It helps the two groups act as a team, feel good about each other, and save on overall work. And, as the article points out, the increased compatibility between Debian, Ubuntu and all other Debian based distributions (including Knoppix) is a win for end users.

          Now that Ubuntu is a rising star, and Debian has just finished Project Lead elections, I would like to see the leadership of the two organizations get together, discuss the idea, and hopefully agree that this is a good way to work together. The leadership can then promote co-maintainership as a 'best practice' within their own organizations, inform the userbase (i.e. get it mentioned on slashdot), PLUS appoint an interoperability liason. The liason's job is to hassle^H^H^H^H^H^H talk with individual developers to help make sure this actually happens. Branden, don't you think this would be a great first accomplishment as DPL?

          Of course, there will still be some places where Debian and Ubuntu want to do something differently, so some packages will always be a little incompatible. But the bulk of the 'heavy lifting' across the thousands of packages is all about stuff developers generally agree on. Updating software, finding and fixing problems, improving quality. Ian Murdock is worried an impending 'nightmare'. I think if we can work together well, the upcoming Ubuntu/Debian relationship is going to be software distribution's finest hour.
          • I would like to see the leadership of the two organizations get together, discuss the idea, and hopefully agree that this is a good way to work together. The leadership can then promote co-maintainership as a 'best practice' within their own organizations, inform the userbase (i.e. get it mentioned on slashdot), PLUS appoint an interoperability liason.

            Seriously, don't you think all that is up to Debian? I think Ubuntu may or may not agree, but I don't see them having a problem. You got yourseleves into
            • by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @01:24AM (#12209123) Homepage Journal

              Seriously, don't you think all that is up to Debian? I think Ubuntu may or may not agree, but I don't see them having a problem.

              The further Ubuntu diverges from Debian, the less benefit they'll receive from the huge amount of work that goes into Debian development. Ubuntu's rapid growth has been entirely because they've had such an excellent base upon which to build, but if they diverge too far from Debian they will lose that advantage and will have to do all of the work themselves, at which point their progress will slow dramatically.

              It's clearly in the interest of both projects to cooperate, and I fully expect it will happen. The "problems" currently being experienced are primarily a result of the youth and rapid growth of Ubuntu. When a new process is developing, problems occur, it's normal. Debian and Ubuntu developers will cooperate, and both will win. Debian excels at providing a vast, solid foundation that is great for those who need stability and great for experienced Linux users/developers, but has a hard time maintaining a good, usable desktop for less capable (or dedicated) users. Ubuntu does an excellent job of that, but requires a the Debian bedrock underneath.

          • by |>>? (157144) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @02:07AM (#12209387) Homepage
            Jeff,

            I think your idea has great merit, but I must confess that I think your idea will be buried in politics and name calling.

            Allow me to elaborate a little. I'm a debian user, have been for a number of years. I'm also a software developer with 24 years of experience and I run my own company. I use my workstation to get my job done and I report bugs as diligently as I am able to as they arise from time-to-time. On occasion I attempt to use IRC to ask questions in #debian and in the past I've offered my services to the debian community.

            In this context I've found that there are a few "loud" people within the debian community, those who are quick to dismiss those who are not a developer and "thus" have no visible track record. Members of the general community might perceive those "loud" people as representative of the debian developer community.

            Perhaps the reason that the perception exists that the debian community is hard to communicate with is because it appears that to become a debian developer requires a lot of passion, persistence and patience. Once you are a debian developer, there may be a sense of achievement and some form of separation, in that there is differentiation between a developer and the rest of the community.

            I'm not talking about the process of becoming a developer, I'm talking about how it makes you feel after you've done it.

            I'm struggling a little to get my point across, because I don't want this to turn into a moan about debian because /. has already well and truly taken care of that part of the discussion.

            What I'm talking about it that debian developers appear to me to require a strong personality, just to become a developer in the first place, that as a result, debian itself looses out.

            So, after many words, getting back to what I started with, politics and name calling. I think that we as debian users need to find a way to allow more cohesion between the various members of the community and then ideas such as yours can and will be embraced and encouraged.

            I've now re-read this numerous times and I'm still not sure that I've got my point across, but feel free to email me direct to discuss this further.

        • Now imagine if Ubuntu had instead been a group of developers who decided to combine their efforts with the Debian group to improve Debian?

          Working with the Debian people can involve more bureacracy and red tape than working with the federal government, and some developers can't stand that.

          Note that the Canonical employees working on Ubuntu who are also Debian Developers are in key positions, and it is my belief that they could have changed Debian from within, if they so desired.

          Canonical employees are at

      • Re:Problem? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 0racle (667029)
        You don't need two entire desktops to run KDE/QT and GTK apps.

        That said, given the speed that the Ubantu people seem to work at, do you think they would have hung around developing Debian at a snails pace? Some people like the way Ubantu does things, personally I'm going to stick with Debian, I like the slow and steady it works for my needs. Same with KDE and Gnome. I hate Gnome. I can't stand it, but I like KDE. I would use CDE before using Gnome. Choice is there for a reason, you'll never please everyone
      • Re:Problem? (Score:3, Informative)

        by WJMoore (830419)
        Now imagine if Ubuntu had instead been a group of developers who decided to combine their efforts with the Debian group to improve Debian?

        It would seem that the Ubuntu people are already more or less doing this:

        Many Ubuntu developers are also recognized members of the debian community. They continue to stay active in contributing to debian both in the course of their work on Ubuntu and directly in debian. When Ubuntu developers fix bugs that are also present in debian packages -- and since the projects

      • Re:Problem? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by vhogemann (797994) <victor@NoSpaM.hogemann.com> on Monday April 11, 2005 @09:18PM (#12207536) Homepage
        What stop Debian from using the Ubuntu packages? As far as I know, Ubuntu developers get their packages from Debian SID. So if the Debian developers release Sarge they'll be able to use these packages on Etch... If they just release Sarge and stop complaining about someone doing a better job, everyone would win.
      • Re:Problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by takis (14451) on Monday April 11, 2005 @09:25PM (#12207598) Homepage Journal
        Now imagine if Ubuntu had instead been a group of developers who decided to combine their efforts with the Debian group to improve Debian? We'd have a better Debian and no incompatibility between two popular distros and two communities.


        Not really possible. The IMHO biggest differences between Debian and Ubuntu are their release schedule and package inclusion policy:

        • Debian doesn't fix a release date and releases "when it's ready" (kinda like DNF ;-) Ubuntu on the other hand has _fixed_ release dates. To be able to reach those fixed release dates, they support a small subset of the system architectures and a subset of the packages.
        • Debian seems to accept software packages only if they have been tested for a considerable amount of time. Ubuntu takes the latest stable release of a software package. For a desktop user, this is very often more attractive.


        So, if you want to create a nice, up-to-date Debian based desktop system, you can either try to convince the 1000 (?) Debian developers that they should change their ways, change the release procedure, and change the criteria for deciding the inclusion of packages. Or, you can just start a new distro, and do as you please :-) which seems a lot easier (read: doable) to me...
      • Re:Problem? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jimhill (7277)
        During the brief time I had Debian on one of my machines, I experienced firsthand the arrogance of the Debian fanbase. When I asked in an IRC channel why an upgrade to mplayer felt that removing KDE entirely and most of X11 was a good thing to do, I was sneeringly told that if I had problems with that then Debian was Not For Me. And so I agreed, and so I returned to the RPM-based distros.

        The point of the post is that I have a strong sense that if the Ubuntu folks had said "Hey, we've got some ideas and w
      • Re:Problem? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by diamondsw (685967)
        Now imagine if Ubuntu had instead been a group of developers who decided to combine their efforts with the Debian group to improve Debian? We'd have a better Debian and no incompatibility between two popular distros and two communities.

        No, we'd have no such release, because the problem is not a technical one that requires more coders, it's a community one that Debian has shown no willingness to either accept or address. We would still be stuck waiting on 11 different architectures to be done before anythi
      • Re:Problem? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by digidave (259925) on Monday April 11, 2005 @10:31PM (#12208096)
        Ubuntu and Debian are not trying to accomplish the same things. Debian users who convert to Ubuntu are doing so because that's the kind of distro they need.

        The Ubuntu developers couldn't have gone in and contributed to Debian because their contributions aren't wanted in most of the Debian world.

        One does not replace the other, but they are very complimentary.
    • Re:Problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday April 11, 2005 @09:15PM (#12207511) Homepage Journal
      Evolutionary selection depends on the "less fit" dying. Much of the "less er fitness" comes in comparatively worse returns on energy investment. Ubuntu is benefitting from the latent value in Debian, developed at great Debian expense. And it continues to depend on Debian's community to do most of the work for the Ubuntu release: Ubuntu is a (worthwhile) tweak of Debian, to test/revise and move more packages into a "known stable" state. It doesn't matter that natural evolution isn't "fair" - it's all we've got, and there's no arbiter of fairness to whom to appeal. But distro forking competition can be bad for both distros, when their workflow is interdependent. Murdock's suggestion, that would let Ubuntu continue to improve Debian without killing it, seems sensible for everyone.
  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:11PM (#12207016) Homepage Journal
    I'd call it evolution. I'm sure Neanderthals viewed the last evolutionary change in humans as a crisis though.
    • by Aeiri (713218)
      I'd call it evolution. I'm sure Neanderthals viewed the last evolutionary change in humans as a crisis though.

      And I'm sure the people at Mandrake called it evolution as well. (In regards to RPM)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:12PM (#12207022)
    For a lot of people, Ubuntu offers a better distro than plain ol' Debian. Now Debian is upset that Ubuntu is going off on it's own. Maybe if Debian released a better product on a faster scale, they wouldn't have their users being stolen by a better company.
    • by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Monday April 11, 2005 @09:14PM (#12207505) Homepage
      Debian isn't a company. I don't think Ubuntu is either, but I'm not sure.

      The problem is, "a lot of people" means "people who want a desktop distro for x86." Far from having a grudge against Ubuntu, I've been installing it on all my systems. It's a very nice distro. But Debian has a bit less flexibility because it's trying to guarantee that a .deb file will work properly across a dozen different architectures.

      I don't want to see .deb packages that only run on Ubuntu or only run on Debian, the way you have to find separate RPMs for Mandrake and Fedora. That would suck.
      • by benjamindees (441808) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @02:58AM (#12209595) Homepage
        being stolen by a better company
        Debian isn't a company. I don't think Ubuntu is either, but I'm not sure.

        Ha! This is the greatest Freudian slip in the whole thread. Ubuntu absofuckinglutely is a company.

        Who do you think pays all those Debian developers to work on Ubuntu instead of Sarge? Mark's money will run out sooner or later, but I'm sure he's invested enough in Canonical that when it does run out, they'll be sitting pretty with exclusive control over Ubuntu support.

        Meanwhile, Bruce Perens and Ian Murdock have to rethink their businesses based on Debian support. Instead of working with and within the Debian project like Progeny and UserLinux, Canonical has purchased the Debian project and is letting it rot to draw users and developers to Ubuntu. This doesn't bode well either for Debian or for the people who work within the project to make their living, if that living isn't tied to Canonical.

        In the end, I'd expect Ubuntu to turn into something like Fedora, with the free distro really only being useful for people who like to upgrade every six months and one company (Canonical) monopolizing support for anyone who needs a longer life, security updates, stability, or even third party software support. That seems to have been their inspiration all along. Everyone but beta testers will get to pay and, if they do it right, Debian will no longer be a viable option. Two birds, one stone.

        So far, unfortunately, it seems they are doing it right. Only half of the eligible Debian developers voted for the new DPL. Sarge is way late with no end in sight (it still hasn't even been frozen). And it seems like the process of adding new developers to the project (who might upset the balance of power or actually work to release a stable version) has come to a grinding halt.

    • hypocrisy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gnuman99 (746007) on Monday April 11, 2005 @09:59PM (#12207871)
      <rant>

      1. Debian is not a company.
      2. Debian has changed its release architectures after Sarge so that Etch is not slowed down by unknown, exotic and/or obsolete architectures.
      3. Sarge is not ready NOW because of the large number of architectures. ARM has only 2 auto-builders now and hasn't even compiled the release of glibc that has to go into Sarge. After it finishes compiling, the archive will be frozen.

      Everyone can start their own little distributions here and there, usually leaching off of distributions like Debian. They find a limited niche market and people start talking about "Debian dying". Well, I think we had that discussion before Woody as well.

      Debian has a very large number of packeges available for it. As of right now, Sid has over 16600 packages. Distributions like Ubuntu do not maintain these packages. They are just managing the core (base) and a few other packages.

      Anyway, release cycles every 3 or 6 months are not necessarly good. People using Debian want stability. Why do people on slashdot bitch about MS dropping support for NT or 98, yet they complain that Debian stable is 3 years old! Huh?

      Woody ships with a 2.4.18 kernel. This kernel does not support SATA. Woody does not support 2.6.x kernels with module support out of the box. But you can install kernel 2.6 on woody. You can run woody on a SATA only system (can't install it from CDs though). Can you install NT4 or Windows 98 or Windows 2000 or even XP out of the box on a SATA only system? My latest, greatest XP installation does NOT detect my SATA chipset. I mean, WTF?

      Anyway, as soon as Sarge ships, people will start trolling that it does not support PCE-48X or their modem or something.

      People wanting RHEL software stability without the pricetag and still want to have security support would be using Woody for the last 3 years. I am using Woody on a number of machines. I don't have to worry about upgrades with unexpected bugs. I don't have to worry about sudden ABI changes or compiler changes or kernel changes or GUI changes or coputeguration changes or ... Many users prefer to use older software as opposed to constantly trying to re-learn some user interface just because someone thinks they need latest-greatest every 3-6 months.

      So, why again is Slashdot population (I guess you can it that) complaining about Woody being stable less than 3 years, yet when it comes to MS, well, they release NT when? I think it came with IE 2!! And now that they drop support, people complain left and right about the need to upgrade..

      Why are people here so hypocritical? You can run Sid with latest, greatest if you want. You can get latest Sarge installer here: http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/ [debian.org] There are many people that will be running Woody months *after* Sarge gets released.

      </rant>

      • Re:hypocrisy (Score:5, Informative)

        by noahm (4459) on Monday April 11, 2005 @10:45PM (#12208190) Homepage Journal
        2. Debian has changed its release architectures after Sarge so that Etch is not slowed down by unknown, exotic and/or obsolete architectures.

        That is most definitely not the case. There was considerable discussion on the debian-devel list following the release team's proposal to limit the etch release to 4 architectures. While the proposal may still be implemented, it also may still undergo significant changes. People have been suggesting all sorts of counter proposals to try and keep all the architectures in sync.

        Personally, even though I've run Debian on MIPS, MIPSel, Alpha, and Sparc (all of which would be dropped under the Release Team's proposal) I still support the proposal and would like to see architecture support scaled back a bit. There are those, however, who feel that Debian would be giving up too much if they were to drop some platforms.

        noah

    • by kesuki (321456)
      Ubuntu crashes on my system, and generally just breaks. the LiveCD works okay but has some quirks, Sarge installed generally without problem, other than having 6-month old everything. Keep in mind, sarge isn't even the 'stable' branch.

      Ubuntu wants to work with debian, to make a better debian, but the goals of Ubuntu and Debian are different. debian aims at a pure FOSS os, while ubuntu aims at a viable commercial desktop linux distro. A viable commercial Linux require a lot of 'free as in beer' software
      • by gnuman99 (746007)
        Seeded swarming (aka Bittorrent) is the future... why force individuals to connect and try 20 different mirrors, when all mirrors can connect to one central tracker, and everyone connected to the tracker can swarm stream files not only from mirrors, but also from other users downloading files ;)

        BT is not very good (ie. kind of useless) for most of the packages in Debian. Most packages are less than 500kB. Very few run more than a few megs.

        If you want to use BT to download Sarge (hopefully before Woody t

  • Bad Ubuntu! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TopSpin (753) * on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:13PM (#12207034) Journal
    "I understand what the Ubuntu folks are trying to do, and they're doing lots of good work that will eventually find its way into Debian," Murdoch said.

    The operative word there is eventually.

    Sayeth Murdoch; "But what we really need right now as a community is for Sarge to be released."

    You needed that at least a year ago. Fix your model so that Debian can keep up with the rest of the Linux world and you won't have to gripe about forks that don't exist.

    Debian should be the foundation of a plethora of tailored distributions dominating the Linux market. The one and only thing preventing this is the fact that Stable is perpetually very obsolete. This is not Ubuntu's fault.
    • "Debian should be the foundation of a plethora of tailored distributions dominating the Linux market. The one and only thing preventing this is the fact that Stable is perpetually very obsolete. This is not Ubuntu's fault."

      There are already many other popular desktop oriented distros based on Debian like Mepis and Kanotix. I'm not sure how much their packages are incompatible with Sarge, but it seems like it's suddenly as issue now with the popularity of Ubuntu. My only experience with this was updating an
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:13PM (#12207040)
    Here's a suggestion on how we can avert the crisis before it becomes one: Provide a Debian compatibility runtime and development environment for Ubuntu, and make the development environment the default environment.

    Translation: Provide the same horribly outdated packages we do.

  • by FreeLinux (555387) on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:13PM (#12207043)
    And given the momentum behind Ubuntu, more and more packages are being built like this. The result is a potential compatibility nightmare.

    Funny how two people can look at the same thing and see something different. My perspective was that; the result is a potential deprecation of Sarge and perhaps Debian itself.
    • by Ian Bicking (980) <ianb.colorstudy@com> on Monday April 11, 2005 @11:10PM (#12208328) Homepage
      That doesn't even make sense, if you understand the process behind Debian and Ubuntu. The majority of work towards Ubuntu has been from Debian developers -- if they were starting from scratch they'd have nothing. And the majority of work will continue to be done by Debian developers, who still outnumber Ubuntu developers by very large numbers, and Debian has a process to support that kind of size. There might be issues with that process, but that doesn't invalidate the size and skill of the community behind Debian, nor does Ubuntu offer a comparable experience for developers.

      And it doesn't have to -- Ubuntu isn't out to beat Debian. At all. They are using different release methodologies, and are essentially forking Debian Policy where they see fit. But in their effort for short-term usability improvements, there's the danger that they'll create a difficult to maintain system -- and Debian's fundamental maintenance abilities are probably its best feature. And probably why Ubuntu is based on Debian.

  • by duffbeer703 (177751) on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:14PM (#12207047)
    Release a friggin distribution or just shut Debian down.

    Seriously, they haven't had a stable release in nearly three years. Projects like Ubuntu were created due to the complete lack of leadership on Debian's part.

    In the wake of Red Hat's withdrawl of a viable free linux distro, Debian should be thriving right now. Instead its fading away.
    • i thought Red Hat did fedora...
      i thought they just made their 'red hat' distro enterprise-only
    • by macshit (157376) * <[gro.ung] [ta] [selim]> on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:29PM (#12207165) Homepage
      Keep in mind that Ubuntu is very, very, close to Debian unstable -- Ubuntu concentrates on those core packages they, they don't somehow maintain the whole universe themselves. If Debian were "shut down" (not going to happen anyway, but...), Ubuntu and other Debian-derived distros would definitely suffer.

      Ubuntu is cool (I run a Debian/Ubuntu mix), but in concentrating on the glamorous stuff they end up getting a bit more credit than they deserve.
    • by deepestblue (206649) <`slashdot' `at' `ksharanam.net'> on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:42PM (#12207253)
      In the wake of Red Hat's withdrawl of a viable free linux distro, Debian should be thriving right now.

      You just had to take a potshot at RedHat, didn't you? Lots of people I know have been really happy running Fedora and making use of the resources RedHat provides for Fedora users. I don't see any reason for it to be considered unviable.

      P.S. If you're talking about RPM dependency hell, that was a problem even with RedHat, and doesn't prove why RedHat stopping its Desktop distro sales was bad.

    • Netcraft confirms it [netcraft.com], Red Hat's viable free linux distro is kicking everyone else's ass in growth rate, followed only by Gentoo who is growing 3 times slower but still 2nd place. (Just FYI, the debian category as I understand it includes all direct deriviatives too).
      Regards,
      Steve
  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:15PM (#12207054) Homepage
    Debian just needs to start advertising itself using images of naked people, too. Then popularity will go up for Debian, until they achieve parity with Ubuntu, and more people will release packages that work well with Sarge.
  • by CRC'99 (96526) on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:15PM (#12207057) Homepage
    Am I the only one who reads this as basically saying that Debian has been left behind because it has become stale?
  • The real question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AvantLegion (595806) on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:16PM (#12207063) Journal
    If Ubuntu has to keep diverging from Debian base in order to improve, what does that say about the state of Debian?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:17PM (#12207068)
    Perhaps an Endangered Distributions Act.
  • Dodos (Score:5, Funny)

    by The Bungi (221687) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:17PM (#12207071) Homepage
    Whenever I see these stories about Debian I remember that skit on Ice Age [imdb.com] that features a bunch of dodos chanting "survival of the dodos is the most important thing!!" "we will survive!!" while hoarding three watermelons for the upcoming 2,000 year glacier funfest.

    "Oops, there goes our last female".

    Debian needs to get with the program and work with Ubuntu. Otherwise... well, we all know what happened to the dodos. It would take a lot of work to replace the Debian infrastructure, but it's not impossible to do.

  • by natrius (642724) * <niranNO@SPAMniran.org> on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:21PM (#12207102) Homepage
    Packages made for sid don't even work on sarge all the time without pulling in extra packages from sid. That's the same thing that happens with packages meant for Ubuntu. When you have different sets of software installed on various computers, one single package isn't going to work correctly on all of them unless you're willing to mix packages from different repositories.

    I don't think it's really fair to say that Ubuntu is a net negative for Debian. It's definitely a net negative for sarge, since very little, if any, of the work put in to Ubuntu has trickled down to sarge. However, it's good for Debian as a whole because when the ball gets rolling for etch, most of the work will already be done. Ubuntu puts out stable releases for three of the four release arches for etch, so I doubt much extra work will be needed there, although I don't really know that much about what additional work would be necessary.

    Sure, Ubuntu's existence has various downsides, such as the proliferation of deb packages provided by developers that only work on Ubuntu, but would those people have made Debian packages in the first place? The packages are merely a byproduct of Ubuntu's popularity, and more people using Debian and Debian derived distributions is definitely a net gain for Debian. I don't see why he would write off all the benefits that Ubuntu provides while focusing on a few issues that are negligible IMO.

    The packaging issue is one that's never really going to go away. On his blog, Ian cites software developers and ISVs as reasons for unifying Debian and Ubuntu packages. All free software developers have to do to get their software packaged by Ubuntu is request it. [ubuntulinux.org] The Ubuntu packagers work fairly close with the Debian developers to make sure that the work trickles down to Ubuntu proper as well. For commercial software it's a bit harder, but that's one of the things to deal with in the Linux ecosystem. Like I said before, packages made for sarge wouldn't even necessarily work on woody. You have to target specific sets of available software, or just distribute binaries that install the software based on various LSB assumptions.
  • Everyone wins? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:21PM (#12207104) Homepage
    Here's a suggestion on how we can avert the crisis before it becomes one: Provide a Debian compatibility runtime and development environment for Ubuntu, and make the development environment the default environment. [...] Provide a Ubuntu-specific development environment too, so developers can take advantage of Ubuntu-specific features that aren't in Debian yet, but only use those features when you absolutely must. Everyone wins.
    Well, no, everybody doesn't win. Providing compatibility with generic Debian would be a pain for Ubuntu, and would take energy away from more worthwhile work that people want to do on Ubuntu. Adding this kind of bag-on-the-side would be a win for generic Debian, and a loss for Ubuntu.

    A better option might be for generic Debian to stop trying to support desktop users. The way things are stacking up now, generic Debian-stable is a great server OS, but a lousy dekstop OS. People who want to run the latest bleeding-edge version of Gnome or whatever are switching to Ubuntu. So what's the point of having generic Debian keep trying to support the latest bleeding-edge GUI packages?

    I can't help thinking that this sounds like sour grapes on the part of Ian Murdock. The tone of his blog is like, "No fair, I don't want you to play with my ball anymore."

    I don't think his comparison with RPM is completely apropos. RPM was poorly designed from the start, and was probably designed from the start as a tool for vendor lock-in. Apt-get, AFAICT, is well designed. If there's a problem maintaining compatibility between Ubuntu and generic Debian, it's probably because some of the desktop GUI libs are changing very rapidly.

    • Re:Everyone wins? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Erwos (553607)
      You nearly sounded intelligent, until I got to:
      "I don't think his comparison with RPM is completely apropos. RPM was poorly designed from the start, and was probably designed from the start as a tool for vendor lock-in. Apt-get, AFAICT, is well designed."

      RPM is not even remotely the same thing as apt-get. It's like saying an apple is inferior to a fruit salad.

      AFAIK, RPM is actually ahead of DEB in certain areas. Yum and apt-get are reasonably close in quality, although I would give apt-get the nod for now
    • Re:Everyone wins? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by natrius (642724) * <niranNO@SPAMniran.org> on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:40PM (#12207242) Homepage
      So what's the point of having generic Debian keep trying to support the latest bleeding-edge GUI packages?

      A question that really needs to be answered is "What does Debian see as its role?" They've said that they want to speed up the release cycle. How much? At a certain point, won't it be redundant given Ubuntu releases with a six month release cycle? Who is going to use Debian proper? Who does Debian want to use Debian?

      I think Debian functions exceptionally as a platform to base derivative distributions off of. Why make actual releases if other distributions are making releases that are more attractive? There are a few good reasons to, but I think alternative solutions would be better.

      1) Ubuntu's support period isn't long enough.
      Ok, so instead of making a release, pick up an Ubuntu release after it is deprecated and support it for another year.

      2) Ubuntu's value comes from its corporate backing. We can't change the fundamental processes that we have going in the non-profit Debian world because Ubuntu could disappear someday.
      The work that Debian proper does is far more than the few Ubuntu developers do. They just build on top of what is already there. If Canonical decides to stop supporting Ubuntu, just adopt it as part of the normal operations of Debian. Think of it as another branch.

      I think once sarge gets out, some discussion needs to occur about what the future holds for Debian so its users can make choices accordingly. There are better ways to operate than what's currently proposed.
    • Re:Everyone wins? (Score:3, Informative)

      by subsolar2 (147428)

      I don't think his comparison with RPM is completely apropos. RPM was poorly designed from the start, and was probably designed from the start as a tool for vendor lock-in. Apt-get, AFAICT, is well designed.

      Well you are compaging apples to oranges ... RPM is a *package format* that is open. On the other hand apt-get is package management tool with dependacy resolution.

      If you are going to make a comparision either compare the RPM *package format* with the DEB *package format* or compare the yum *packag

  • by NotFamous (827147) on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:21PM (#12207105) Homepage Journal
    This reminds me of when Mandrake forked from Redhat. Initially the RPM packages were fairly interchangeable. Eventually I learned to only use actual Mandrake RPMs on Mandrake. Somehow, the world kept turning...
    • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:39PM (#12207236) Homepage
      Yes. I mean this is a total non-issue, you can't take an arbitrary Debian package and install it on any Debian system anyway, and never could. For instance if you add the Debian repositories to a Mepis or Xandros system, you can break it quite badly. Also of course, in Debian unstable package names change, they get split up, merged, sometimes they disappear entirely. So this incompatibility already exists.

      It's also rather annoying that Murdoch witters on about "avoiding the fate of the RPM world" - uh, hello? Last time I checked we're all Linux users. And Linux ISVs hate the current situation because they already have to produce lots of packages, or more likely simply not bother and produce a Loki Setup or a tarball (tarball! how DOS is that?).

      Debians problems seem to be directly tracable to:

      • Too many packages, meaning it's too hard to stabilise them all. You can't release until they're all stabilised, but the need to keep up to date means a constant influx of new packages
      • Too many architectures - if a package doesn't work on one, it blocks all of them
      • Too little vision, too little radical leadership. The idea of reducing the repository sizes, or splitting them off into unsupported third party repos and having Debian just provide a base system, is apparently unthinkable to the Debian leaders. So the project bumbles along with no real clear ideas of how to extract themselves from the quicksand they're in.

      The end result is Ubuntu - a fork. Unfortunately Ubuntu doesn't really tackle the packaging problem seriously: it improves on Debian by only stabilising a small base system, but this means you get to choose between (a) an out of date and small but stable repository (main) or (b) a large and up to date but often broken repository (universe). And I still haven't figured out WTF the "metaverse" is yet.

      Unfortunately the Ubuntu developers only go so far - they still believe it's possible for Ubuntu to package everything end users will ever need, even though at least in Warty, universe wasn't even enabled by default. I don't see any way for Ubuntu to stabilise universe without getting bogged down in the same mud that Debian did.

      • by natrius (642724) * <niranNO@SPAMniran.org> on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:56PM (#12207365) Homepage
        You say that Debian's problems come from having too many packages and too many architectures, but those are precisely the features that Debian's users like about it.

        Unfortunately Ubuntu doesn't really tackle the packaging problem seriously: it improves on Debian by only stabilising a small base system

        This is exactly what you said Debian should do, but now that Ubuntu does it, it's a problem?

        (a) an out of date and small but stable repository (main) or (b) a large and up to date but often broken repository (universe).

        (a) is precisely what most normal users want. Normal users use their computers as tools, and don't care if they have the latest whizbang version of Gaim, as long as they can IM their friends. On (b), universe isn't often broken, and only one package (gtk-gnutella, repeatedly) has broken for me, and is the only one I remember seeing mentioned on the mailing lists. Also, universe doesn't get updates either, it just includes the rest of the Debian repository that Ubuntu hasn't chosen to explicitly support.

        Unfortunately the Ubuntu developers only go so far - they still believe it's possible for Ubuntu to package everything end users will ever need, even though at least in Warty, universe wasn't even enabled by default.

        Universe isn't enabled by default because main is supposed to contain all the software that most users need to get their work done. Any new user that spends more than a day or two administering an Ubuntu system will be aware of universe. If there's a piece of software that you think should be included in main, there are places on the wiki to make suggestions.

        I don't see any way for Ubuntu to stabilise universe without getting bogged down in the same mud that Debian did.

        Time based releases. You do as much as you can within six months. If there's a package in universe that a user's workflow depends upon that's broken in a release, they can stick with the old release for up to another year while still receiving security updates.

        The end result is Ubuntu - a fork.

        Ubuntu is a fork. Forks aren't inherently bad. All the work on Ubuntu goes back into Debian. Sure, it shows that people weren't satisfied with Debian and wanted something else. Is this a bad thing for Debian? It depends on what their goals are. The work of Debian developers is being used by far more people that it work before Ubuntu, so I think that's a good thing.
        • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Monday April 11, 2005 @09:12PM (#12207485) Homepage
          OK, I should clarify.

          What I think both Debian and Ubuntu should do is forget about their huge package repositories, on the grounds that it's an unscalable way to distribute software and focus purely on making a great OS. That means things like UTF8, graphical installers, graphical config tools, SELinux integration.

          These are all being worked on. But see how Fedora was ahead of them in all of these areas, and in some still is. That's because the Red Hat team focussed purely on the base distro instead of trying to package everything in the world, which is impossible.

          Now, Ubuntu basically has a chance to do this. Strip even more out of main - why is Inkscape there? How many Ubuntu users are also vector graphics artists? It's out of date already, and has been for months, yet you can get up to date packages direct from inkscape.org. Take it to the logical conclusion: make Ubuntu a base operating system that is super easy to extend, with only the basics in main (music player, web browser etc).

          Now support 3rd party packaging, so users can go to inkscape.org if they want a graphical editor and install it straight from there. I think they should use autopackage [autopackage.org] to do that, but I'm biased. There could be any number of ways of doing it. The point is, stop being packagers and become OS developers.

          Ubuntu could do this without too much pain. Debian, on the other hand, never could. When you think of Debian, do you think of a slick, modern desktop OS? No? Neither do I. I think of 18,000 packages. But who cares how many packages you have, if the OS sucks. If Debian were to deprecate most of the packages, it would cease to have a purpose on the desktop because it's such a poor desktop OS (as Ubuntu has made clear). It could refocus and with time, catch up, but it would take a lot of effort and dedication and belief in the new way. I don't think Debian can do that. I think it'll fade away rather than change.

          Attempting to package everything the user wants is sinking Debian, and it'll sink Ubuntu too unless they change the philosophy instead of just doing minor tweaks. Ubuntu universe includes Coq, a theorem prover whos own authors estimate that it has only 100 regular users, yet does not include gaim-vv, which adds webcam support to Gaim. What is wrong here?

          • Uhm, no thank you (Score:3, Interesting)

            by AvantLegion (595806)
            The reason I won't touch Fedora is the fact that I have to play hide-and-seek with 14 different 3rd party repositories just to get the damn software I get by typing the words "universe" and "multiverse" in a couple of spots, or that I get from ground 0 in portage in Gentoo.

  • Ubuntu Sarge (Score:5, Informative)

    by Stalin (13415) on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:22PM (#12207110)
    http://www.ubuntulinux.org/ubuntu/relationship/doc ument_view

    "Ubuntu makes a release every six months, and supports those releases for 18 months with daily security fixes and patches to critical bugs.

    As Ubuntu prepares for release, we "freeze" a snapshot of debian's development archive ('sid'). We start from 'sid' in order to give ourselves the freedom to make our own decisions with regard to release management, independent of Debian's release-in-preparation. This is necessary because our release criteria are very different from Debian's.

    As a simple example, a package might be excluded from Debian 'testing' due to a build failure on any of the 11 architectures supported by Debian 'sarge', but it is still suitable for Ubuntu if it builds and works on only three of them. A package will also be prevented from entering Debian 'testing' if it has release-critical bugs according to Debian criteria, but a bug which is release-critical for Debian may not be as important for Ubuntu.

    As a community, we choose places to diverge from Debian in ways that minimize the difference between Debian and Ubuntu. For example, we usually choose to update to the very latest version of Gnome rather than the older version in Debian, and we might do the same for key other pieces of infrastructure such as X or GCC. Those decisions are listed as Feature Goals for that release, and we work as a community to make sure that they are in place before the release happens."

    So, who cares that it isn't compatible with Sarge? Is Sarge really compatible with Sid? I think not (if you are sane). Shouldn't Ian be saying that Ubuntu isn't compatible with his "componentized Linux" (http://www.progeny.com/products/components.html)?
    • Re:Ubuntu Sarge (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cpeterso (19082) on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:56PM (#12207363) Homepage

      who cares that it isn't compatible with Sarge? Is Sarge really compatible with Sid?

      This is an important question. Ian is complaining that Ubuntu, a released distro, is incompatible with Debian Sarge, an unreleased unstable distro. This is like Bill Gates complaining that Firefox 1.0.2 is incompatible with Windows Longhorn Beta 2. As long as Firefox released first, it is the second-comer who is responsible for playing catch up.

      Can Debian Sarge keep up with "standards" created by Ubuntu? I doubt it; Debian is not renowned for its agile development..
  • What Ubuntu is... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CaptCanuk (245649) on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:34PM (#12207203) Journal
    Ubuntu is a natural response to Debian's slow development and release cycle. Add in a more friendlier face and multiple languages leveraging the Debian model of apt-get everything and you got a n always up to date linux distro that captures the interest of those who want to use linux as a desktop environment and those who want to be bleeding edge. Any Debian users up for some X.org action? (not that it's impossible, but I've seen work arounds that leverage ubuntu's repository for xorg).
  • by EvilSporkMan (648878) on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:51PM (#12207329)
    I dunno, KDE seemed to be working just fine in Debian testing when I installed it for a friend. I don't need those fancy desktop environments as I just use IceWM, so I don't feel that Ubuntu has anything to offer me. What's wrong with Debian testing?
  • by deutschemonte (764566) <lane@montgomery.gmail@com> on Monday April 11, 2005 @08:52PM (#12207340) Homepage
    (k)Ubuntu is the new Debian. Plain and simple. In another 5 years I am sure it will look very similar to what happened with what is now Mandriva and Fedora back in the day.

    Sure compatability between the two OS's will go to the way-side. But (k)Ubuntu has an chance here to comply with the LSB and silence any claims of incompatability by saying they are just following the standards more closely than Debian proper.

    If nothing else this is just more proof that maybe Debian does need to change their focus to only releasing stable versions for the big three architectures and leave the rest in unstable/testing limbo.

    It has been discussed before and I know a lot of people flammed it because they love Debian for it's architecture support, but Linux fanboys need to start realizing this isn't just about us anymore, this is about the market we are trying to convert.

    Whatever brings us closer to that end is good. Even supposedly "forking" Debian into (k)Ubuntu.

    [/rant]

    Disclosure: I run Kubuntu as my desktop as dual boot w/ WinXP.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 11, 2005 @09:06PM (#12207447)
    ubuntus desktop focus, and essentially 'floating' above unstable will drive debian to only get better faster. how? like this:

    1. it will attract (and is attracting) a huge userbase that will very quickly understand the benefits of apt and the benefits of debian. there is no better example of what a polished linux desktop can be than latest gnome/kde on top of sid (ubuntu), properly patched and configured for the user. this is huge and extremely exciting, it is the best example of 'how a linux desktop is not only workable but superior to the competition and can only attract more talent.

    2. ubuntu's goal is not to 'fork' but to 'freeze and polish' every six months based on unstable. some packages must be forked for obvious reasons, not for the sake of forking but because ubuntu serves the desktop and not all 11 architectures - what that means is ubuntu forks packages only so long as they can safely be used on the desktop while being patched on the other architectures.

    3. all the interest in ubuntu will eventually trickle down to interest and excitement in debian

    4. all the development going into ubuntu will eventually trickle down to debian. the problem right now is simply timing. debian will only start to see the fruits of ubuntus labour after sarge is released, and when unstable become testing. then and only then will debian start to see an accelerated track as a result of this newfound excitement.

    5. debian is the easiest and larges distro out there. ubuntu only seems like a negative from the perspective of sarge's release schedule and ubuntu just jumping into the scene. give it time, you will see debian kill suse and redhat to the point that i predict they will drop their individual efforts and simply adopt debian as their core and base their proprietary services around debian.

    it is inevitable all shall be assimilated.
  • by DragonHawk (21256) on Monday April 11, 2005 @09:08PM (#12207461) Homepage Journal
    The problem is simply that binary compatibility is hard.

    Easy enough; it's the implications that are subtle. Like that building a key system library with different options makes it a different package. That changing a key system library thus changes the entire configuration management scenario. That a package that has different subcomponents, each with their own dependencies, is a package that depends on all of them. That auto-built dependencies tend to be even pickier then the real ones. That packages are only as good as their (builder supplied) metadata. And so on and so forth.

    There must be something about this that is either hard to comprehend, or hard to accept. It gives a lot of RPM users trouble, it gives Debian users a sense of superiority, it's what makes BSD ports work so well, and it's largely responsible for making Microsoft Windows the unholy mess that it is. Clearly, there's a disconnect here.

    Take a look at some common misconceptions in the software world.

    It appears a disproportionate number of Debian users carry a false sense of superiority about their package tools, when what really makes Debian win is the size of the distribution package pool. Specifically, that having such a large pool of configured, compiled, and tested packages readily available via "apt-get install foo" leads a lot of Debian people into think APT is somehow magic.

    Likewise, RPM properly saying "I don't think you have the pieces you need for this to work" leads so many people into thinking that RPM *causes* "dependency hell". RPM simply reports it. YUM (and things like it) can help you with it. But the nature of binary software itself is what *causes* dependency hell.

    And the fact that BSD ports downloads, configures, builds, and installs all specified components *from source* leads BSD bigots into thinking that the BSD ports packagers must be doing a much better job then Red Hat or Debian packagers. Rather, they just bypass the problem of binary compatability.

    And, again, this is also largely responsible for why Windoze sucks so much. When everything is a binary which you have no source for, and no two packages share information on what is being installed, and you can only install one version of any given library at once time -- then, yah, it's a minor kind of miracle the thing ever works at all.

    Binary compatability is hard.
  • by Ruach (22461) on Monday April 11, 2005 @09:21PM (#12207564)
    Seriously.

    Yes, Ubuntu packages do not work on Sarge -- Ubuntu starts from SID (which is what I am typing this reply on and have been using since 2000 without a reinstall!). I do not expect Knoppix packages to run on Sarge, or Mepis or Ubuntu. Ubuntu, while closely tied to Debian is a different beast. SID packages are already high quality. Ubuntu just polishes they up a bit further, makes TOO MANY things brown, and pushes it out the door every six months. I run it on my work laptop, and it works like a charm (except the infamous Broadcom wireless grrr).

    The reason Ubuntu is great for Debian is that they are paying Debian developers who ARE pushing back patches both to the upstream, and to SID. I believe that when X.org hits SID, it will be better because of Ubuntu than it would have been in Ubuntuless world. Ditto for many other packages.
  • Duh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by arodland (127775) on Monday April 11, 2005 @09:24PM (#12207585)
    Nothing even close to modern runs on Debian stable, and the compatiblity nightmare they call "testing" is just as bad. I've been defending (and using) Debian for a lot of years now, but they need to get their act together, stop complaining, build a decent project, and release it, or just shut up and die. Metaphorically, that is. Ubuntu is a net positive for the users. Whether it's a net positive for Debian is mostly up to Debian.
  • by xtronics (259660) on Monday April 11, 2005 @09:39PM (#12207711) Homepage
    Those who worte the slash dot and web articles don't know anything about Debian. Debian is really three distributions. Ubuntu is based on SID - the most buggy.

    I think this thread is just Ubuntu hype - our logs don't see any trend. Please note there are SEVERAL other dist based Debian. I think Debina has more children than any other distro - says good things about Debian.
  • by Tuross (18533) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [hdmhtrad]> on Monday April 11, 2005 @09:44PM (#12207746) Homepage
    Like most people I agree its a bit of a "duh" to have moved far away from sarge. It's difficult to remain compatible with something that is so far behind the times it will be obselete on release. Even sid has moved away in some regards; yet even it is obselete in many areas. There is no business sense whatsoever in being chained to the old sloth.

    Part of the compatibility problem is on Debian's side: many maintainers are annoyed that Ubuntu exists and choose to not work with them out of pride/arrogance. This attitude is something I hope Branden breaks in his new tenure as DPL.

    This is where I think it will be very interesting. Branden has always been a progressive and practical person, with extremely little time for the kind of political rubbish that has prevented sarge from being released. We know that the platforms Ubuntu has chosen are the ones that matter for their market, and the ones that matter for the near future in the desktop and server market (with Sun dropping UltraSPARC for amd64) in general. We know there's already been talk of refocussing Debian such that architectures like arm that usually hold everything up will no longer do so.

    So the way I see it, there's a lot of hand-waving going on here that could be completely irrelevent in the future as Debian is architecturally focussed the same as Ubuntu which should foster greater cooperation. Of course Ubuntu is clearly on the desktop side and not the server, so I guess it will have more of the eye-candy and desktop apps while Debian has a far greater range of packages; though it doesn't necessarily need to be that way. It would be fantastic if Ubuntu is simply re-branding the Debian desktop packages in a co-maintenance fashion.

    My greatest gripe with Debian over the past 6 years is how they seemed to have wasted time arguing over pathetic things like should this document licensed under the GFDL really be in Debian, and have hence fallen from their position as the #1 distribution on the ball technically, always up-to-date (at least in sid) with what's out there, to being so far behind its becoming very tempting to switch. Come on, the commercial distros used to be the last to get anything new, now they are becoming the first. Okay, so Novell *wrote* Beagle but the source has always been available, why is is still not in sid (even an old version?). Call me out for not packaging it myself, but neither have you so that's hardly an argument. That's just one minor example.
    (and fwiw I did try packaging it myself, but the dependencies were also either not packaged or out of date and it became a much bigger and riskier task than I have time for)

    I can understand Ian's frustration, he created Debian and then went on to found Progeny and I guess there's some angst/jealousy there over how popular Ubuntu has become in such a short time while Progeny hasn't quite seen that kind of success for however many years (most people forget it even exists unless prompted by some mention somewhere). Get over it. I've seen more cooperation from Ubuntu maintainers with "upstream" Debian than any other Debian fork as witnessed by changelogs of packages I use, I put their success down to this and their good business strategy/vision. Credit where credit is due. I hope this cooperation will increase in the future.
  • This BS... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by poofyhairguy82 (635386) on Monday April 11, 2005 @09:45PM (#12207747) Journal
    But Ian Murdoch, Debian's founding father, does not believe Ubuntu's popularity bodes well for Debian-based distros. "If anything, Ubuntu's popularity is a net negative for Debian," Murdoch told internetnews.com. "It's diverged so far from Sarge that packages built for Ubuntu often don't work on Sarge. And given the momentum behind Ubuntu, more and more packages are being built like this. The result is a potential compatibility nightmare."

    How could it?-

    A. Sarge isn't released

    B. Ubuntu is based on Sid.

    Murdoch argues that if Ubuntu were truly compatible with Debian, all of the energy going into it could be directed at Sarge and toward getting it released, which is what would really benefit the Debian developer ecosystem as a whole.

    Yep. Thats what Userlinux tried to do. Look how that went. Debian is too uncentralized to ever be more than a server distro (where slow is good).

    "I understand what the Ubuntu folks are trying to do, and they're doing lots of good work that will eventually find its way into Debian," Murdoch said. "But what we really need right now as a community is for Sarge to be released.

    There. He admits that Ubuntu is now more about helping out Etch (the release after Sarge) then helping out Sarge. But Warty should have helped Sarge a bunch, and Sarge has problems even millionaire Mark can't fix quickly.

    "In that respect, Ubuntu's popularity is more harmful than helpful."

    How is it harmful that Etch is going to kick ass because of Ubuntu's work?

    I'll tell you how- each Ubuntu release is an embaressment to the Debian people. Two Ubuntus have been released before a Sarge. And if they don't watch out, it will be three. Businesses don't like that many upgrades usually, so a slow Sarge is good many say. But from the words of of Debian's founder is obvious that Sarge not being released it is turning into a bit of a joke...not good for Debian's image.

    Thats the only way Ubuntu hurts Debian.

  • by One Childish N00b (780549) on Monday April 11, 2005 @10:07PM (#12207932) Homepage
    Now it hurts me to say this, but a lot of what many other posters are saying about Debian dying off are true. Don't get me wrong, I like (K)Ubuntu - it's going to be the next distro I hop over to - but I love Debian like a brother - After disasterous misadventures with restrictive RedHat and Mandrake installs, Debian gave me just the right level of ease where I wanted it and power where it was needed. To me, RedHat and Mandrake just felt like an equal to Windows, but with Debian I genuinely felt more productive. I learnt my Linux skills on Debian and it still faithfully hauls my two main machines like a loyal pack-horse, but one I know is slowly preparing to lay down and go to sleep for that final time. Kubuntu is the next choice for my main work machine and will be slipped on next time I get around to doing it (which will probably be around August), and the reasons are simple;

    - I want up-to-date packages. I want KDE 3.4 out-of-the-box, I want X.org and the full support for my graphics card it brings - I want all the things Debian doesn't have but with Ubuntu are just an apt-get away.
    - I want to feel my system is modern. I know, I know, if I want cutting-edge, use Gentoo, but I don't want cutting-edge, I just want modern - with Debian I feel I'm being left behind.
    - Better (easier) installation. I'm trying to prise my mother off of Windows, and while Ubuntu's installer still isnt GUI, it's not quite the CLI terror that is the Debian installer - how am I supposed to convert her to Linux when even the installer scares the shit out of her?
    - More frequent updates. OK sure, they might have stupid names (Hoary Hedgehog?), but Ubuntu updates are frequent and on-time, and they keep things up to date - Debian updates seem very few and far between, and serve only to make sure the disto stays a good three or four years behind the competiton in the name of stability.

    On the final point, granted, Debian is absolutely rock-solid, and for that reason if that reason alone I will be keeping it on my server box (sitting blinking in the corner as I type this), but as for my work box, it's getting Kubuntu as soon as I get round to it.

    As I said, I love Debian like a brother, but I'm growing to love Kubuntu like the hot girl down the street (and no, not through a telephoto lens) - you love them both for different reasons, and while all your family loyalty might tell you to sit in with your brother, reality has to step in and tell you to go off with the sleeker, sexier option.
  • by btempleton (149110) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @12:50AM (#12208942) Homepage
    Strangely, Windows is outdoing linux on a fairly important point, though it does a lot of work to attain this. As one of the commenters noted, few people run Debian stable. To really use debian you need unstable now, and that's true to a lesser degree for a number of other distros.

    Because free software is free as in beer, packagers assume there is no big burden in making their packages depend on the latest versions of dependencies they have around at the time they build. They don't do the hard task of testing and building packages with older dependencies even though they would run fine on them.

    On the other hand, developers for the W operating system tend to try to make their package run on as many versions of it as they can, and they test it on as many versions as you can. What that means is that a very large amount of the time, you can install the latest version of some software package on Win98, often even Win95, and almost always the 5 year old Windows 2000.

    Try to have a 5 year old version (with security updates of course) of just about any linux distro and try to install the latest version of some hot new package you want. It will rarely work. It may not even be available in your package manager, and if it is, it will want to upgrade vast numbers of packages in your system that you don't actually truly need to upgrade.

    And like it or not, even though upgrading is good, upgrades are scary. They are scary for ordinary non-guru users and they are scary even for guru users who are trying to run production systems they depend on. Upgrading should happen regularly, but it should happen on the user's schedule, not at random because I want to run some new software.

    Ideally upgrading should not be so scary, but it is. Things break. More than once I have had a major upgrading result in a day of downtime, and I think I know what I'm doing.

    It is not satisfactory to tell your senior citizen mother to run unstable and upgrade regularly. It's not going to happen.
  • Debian unstable (Score:3, Interesting)

    by matman (71405) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @12:50AM (#12208943)
    There are two (or more) really different kinds of users that Debian serves - desktop/SOHO and production/enterprise users. Desktop users run unstable (or testing if they're conservative) and users needing stability and security over features go for stable. Everyone loves being able to apt-get update; apt-get upgrade. Everyone loves having a huge package archive that's accessible without hunting the web. However, the only people happy with the release cycles and maintenance processes are the users who want to run stable. That's why ubuntu has gotten popular - it's filling the desktop niche a bit more. I think though that ubuntu is too specialized for me to like. Eg, their website says that it's GNOME based, but what if I want to run KDE instead? I also don't like installing much out of the box - I want to pick and choose only what I want; Debian lets me do this. I'd love to see:

    - The Ubuntu and Debian folks get together to build an awesome base system framework to build around (eg. kernel-package, hotplug, installer, etc)
    - Try to make it easier/more popular for developers to package their own stuff and put it in contrib. Make it more like freshmeat but with storage. :)
    - Debian people can maintain stable and follow their current release concepts, but maybe scale back on the number of packages offered. Do stable users really need games and P2P packages, for example?
    - Ubuntu project can be to build from and extend Debian Unstable.

    I would use Ubuntu if it were Debian with more and more up to date packages. I think it makes sense for Ubuntu to be that, although maybe with a prettier installer (please don't take away my ability to start from clean slate). It makes sense that the Ubuntu project would want to derrive Debian packages as they do now, especially if Debian were to scale a bit back. Debian has, in Unstable, main, contrib, and non-free (repositories" (right word?)). There should be an Ubuntu "repository" as well. Eg, say ubuntu patches xmms to add https mp3 streaming. They would put that new package in the ubuntu repository in Debian unstable. The package would have a higher version number than the package in main and would be tagged as having a derrivation (some unique id number or name - eg "ubuntu-https-stream" [perhaps a convention is needed as for version numbers]). The package versioning mechanism would need to be extended so that once you have installed a package with a derrivation, "apt-get upgrade" will not upgrade to a newer version of the package unless the package includes the derrivation. If you wanted to upgrade any way, there could be a command line switch on apt-get to specify that.

    Ubuntu would become a new "repository" in Debian, plus media with a tweaked install process. Upgrading a debian unstable box to ubuntu should be as easy as adding an apt sources line and running apt-get update; apt-get upgrade.

    This way ubuntu packages can do what they want, will be compatible with Debian unstable, and Debian people will have an incentive to include changes. Debian can focus on their core and the ubuntu project can pick up the juicy desktop parts of the system. I also really liked the collaborative maintainer idea - that would promote the migration of derrivations from the ubuntu repository into unstable.

    Just some ideas... I'm quite happy with Debian and I've never found an out of the box Linux that satisfies me in the flexability domain. Too much or wrong stuff installed by default, too little support for weird configs, etc. I mean, my desktop machine doesn't even have a hard drive in it (boots off of a file server in the basement), and setting that up with Debian was a breeze.

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