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Trouble on the Debian Front? 255

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the everyone-has-their-burnout-limit dept.
Linux.com is reporting that Matthew Garrett, one of the more active Debian developers, has called some ongoing problems with the Debian project into focus with his resignation. While he didn't hold any actual office, many prominent Debian developers described Garrett as "high profile". From the article: "In his own blog, Garrett relates his gradual discovery that Debian's free-for-all discussions were making him intensely irritable and unhappy with other members of the community. He contrasts Debian's organization with Ubuntu's more formal structure. In particular, he mentions Ubuntu's code of conduct, which is enforced on the distribution's mailing lists, suggesting that it 'helps a great deal in ensuring that discussions mostly remain technical.' He also approves of Ubuntu's more formal structure as 'a pretty explicit acknowledgment that not all developers are equal and some are possibly more worth listening to than others.' Then, in reference to Mark Shuttleworth, the founder and funder of Ubuntu, Garrett says, 'At the end of the day, having one person who can make arbitrary decisions and whose word is effectively law probably helps in many cases.'"
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Trouble on the Debian Front?

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  • Especially when Ubuntu was released, everyone thought Debian was "dead" or "irrelevant", despite Ubuntu being based off Debian.

    However, Debian's release cycle is picking up the pace, as Etch is set to be released soon (a quicker release cycle than Sarge's). Things are looking good as far as a mere user like me is concerned. There are a lot of hardworking people working on Debian, and the politicking is nothing new.

    • by cloricus (691063) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @03:17AM (#16031904)
      Debian's demise is an annoying catch cry for all those who want to start pointless flamewars instead of helping the community move forward. Ubuntu has many problems and cannot hope to replace Debian, ever, as the focus just isn't the same. Linux isn't Windows, in that it wants to be everything for every one, people so please remember that and really if you don't like the way some thing is run go where you do like it...That being said I hope any well thought out points that make sense in this mans blog are implemented for the betterment of the Debian community.
       
      Just for the record I use Debian and Ubuntu in server and desktop configurations daily at home and work and I enjoy both.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Simon Garlick (104721)
        I think of Debian and K/ubuntu as akin to BSD and OS X. One is just the other with a cool GUI.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by morgajel (568462)
        The Community didn't want help moving forward; that was part of the problem. There's a saying on freenode that #Debian is where all the assholes go. It's sort of amusing sitting in another [unnamed] distro channel and watching a trickle of debian people come in (the same way I did) and were shocked at how friendly the channel was despite having almost 1000 people in one of it's 20 or so channels.

        I also know a developer (who is probably one of the more skilled developers I know) try to get in and help with t
    • by twitter (104583) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @03:42AM (#16031928) Homepage Journal

      Things are looking good as far as a mere user like me is concerned.

      Exactly. What problems are actually showing up in software?

      A developer is leaving, that's a problem. It's sad to see a talented developer go, but someone else will step up the the plate and prove that every developer indeed deserves a voice.

      A developer claims that mailing lists made him irritable. That's a problem that has one of two causes, the lists have been infiltrated by trolls or he needs to more tolerant and less easily bothered. The solution treats both causes. Realize that some people on your list are intentionally provoking you and ignore them. Realize also that differences can always be worked out and that not everything has to go exactly your way. If you are right, the project will get back to your way even when it makes mistakes.

      Free software has enemies, that's a problem. Back in 1998, Microsoft declared war on free software with their Halloween Document and targeted the user community. Trolling lists is something they have been doing all the way back to Steven Barkto. It disrupts useful activity, promotes ill will and distrust of your neighbor and can even move organizations to the wrong conclusions and in the wrong directions. Eventually, the truth comes out so the strategy is ultimately wasteful. There is nothing M$ can do to make non free software competitive and they can't really shut down free software. There are far too many projects and damaged communication channels are routed around. The co operative spirit of free software depends on good will, but free software creates that good will in abundance.

      The answer is not to make a king. If you think your peer is annoying now, imagine them with the king like power to make decisions you want for yourself.

      None of these problems is an actual software problem. The kind of people who pretend such things are a big deal are the kinds of people that said free software could not make a friendly user interface, usable documentation, a coherent distribution, a kernel, a compiler, a text editor, etc. Etch is a fantastic distribution that shows that things are working very well.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        This is insightful?

        It's paranoid shit. This guy actually blames people's irritability with FOSS mailing lists, not on zealots, leeter-than-thou sorts, etc... no, couldn't be them, I mean, after all, no-one's seen anything like that on Slashdot. It must be ... Microsoft!

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 03, 2006 @06:02AM (#16032064)
        twitter, please read this carefully. Following this advice will make Slashdot a better place for everyone, including yourself.

        • As a representative of the Linux community, participate in mailing list and newsgroup discussions in a professional manner. Refrain from name-calling and use of vulgar language. Consider yourself a member of a virtual corporation with Mr. Torvalds as your Chief Executive Officer. Your words will either enhance or degrade the image the reader has of the Linux community.
        • Avoid hyperbole and unsubstantiated claims at all costs. It's unprofessional and will result in unproductive discussions.
        • A thoughtful, well-reasoned response to a posting will not only provide insight for your readers, but will also increase their respect for your knowledge and abilities.
        • Don't bite if offered flame-bait. Too many threads degenerate into a "My O/S is better than your O/S" argument. Let's accurately describe the capabilities of Linux and leave it at that.
        • Always remember that if you insult or are disrespectful to someone, their negative experience may be shared with many others. If you do offend someone, please try to make amends.
        • Focus on what Linux has to offer. There is no need to bash the competition. Linux is a good, solid product that stands on its own.
        • Respect the use of other operating systems. While Linux is a wonderful platform, it does not meet everyone's needs.
        • Refer to another product by its proper name. There's nothing to be gained by attempting to ridicule a company or its products by using "creative spelling". If we expect respect for Linux, we must respect other products.
        • Give credit where credit is due. Linux is just the kernel. Without the efforts of people involved with the GNU project , MIT, Berkeley and others too numerous to mention, the Linux kernel would not be very useful to most people.
        • Don't insist that Linux is the only answer for a particular application. Just as the Linux community cherishes the freedom that Linux provides them, Linux only solutions would deprive others of their freedom.
        • There will be cases where Linux is not the answer. Be the first to recognize this and offer another solution.

        From http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/linux/docs/HOWTO/Advoca cy [ibiblio.org]

      • by jb.hl.com (782137)
        There is nothing M$ can do to make non free software competitive

        This would make much more sense if it were written about a company that wasn't the market leader in consumer OSes and office suites.
      • Hmm.

        A company with multiple billions of dollars could probably spend a few years installing one of their own as a "king" of threatening projects. Ideally, s/he would be 90% legitimate but make certain critical decisions that crippled the projects.
    • by Duds (100634)
      And Freespire, with a very resonable chance of attracting normal users happens to be Debian based.
    • I have to agree with you - Debian is still live and kicking. Still I also think that Debian, like everything else, will have its day and then pass into history.

      That's what the ensuing flameware will be about if you boil it down. How fast is Debian dying.

      All this developer is saying is that he personally feels that the egalatarian/authoritarian balance is probably skewed in favor of the former in Debian.

      And I have no opinion re Mark Shuttleworth, but ask all students of history: When does a benevolent authoritarian run a more efficient state than a republic/democracy? Every time. The trick is how to keep a succession of benevolent authoritarians...
  • In the early net, some people would regularly confuse the anarchy (lack of fixed leaders) of the Usenet/Internet universe with lack of any rules... ("I can do whatever I want! (and you can't -- i.e. you have to put up with my stupidity).)

    Lack of leaders is not the same thing as a lack of rules, and I expect that the real problem with the Debian project is that they haven't yet gotten to the point of fully defining rules that enable decent and useful conversations while discouraging the less productive kinds of conversations.

    • by SuperBanana (662181) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @01:57AM (#16031799)

      Lack of leaders is not the same thing as a lack of rules, and I expect that the real problem with the Debian project is that they haven't yet gotten to the point of fully defining rules that enable decent and useful conversations while discouraging the less productive kinds of conversations.

      The sad bit is that you usually need a leader to help make rules; when it comes down to it, the top couple of people most interested/involved/popular/whatever set some basic rules. Too many cooks etc. Add in egotistical or socially clueless people...and the number of practical cooks drops. Radically.

      The really sad bit is that "just enough" of the people left out will devote endless amounts of time to arguing about said rules. BTDT in many clubs, for example. The best approach is to write the first draft of rules to be simple, un-evil, and able to be modified in the future, but not too easily.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by DrXym (126579)
        Too many cooks etc

        Too many cocks spoil the brothel.

      • by Jesus_666 (702802)

        The best approach is to write the first diraft of rules to be simple, un-evil, and able to be modified in the future, but not too easily.

        101. All players must always abide by all the rules then in effect, in the form in which they are then in effect. The rules in the Initial Set are in effect whenever a game begins. The Initial Set consists of Rules 101-116 (immutable) and 201-213 (mutable)...

        Detecting whether a interviewee has MacOS experience prior to OS X: yell "Frog blast the vent core!" If they ru

    • by mdhoover (856288) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @01:59AM (#16031802) Homepage Journal
      The thing is, even with rules in place, mailing-lists always end up being a place for megaphone diplomacy, he who shouts loudest and longest (even if they have no clue) wins.
      The lists end up being political flamefests so anyone of actual consequence (ie: folks that do the work) will just depart the list to use IM/IRC/private email so as to avoid the bullshit and get on with work.

      Maybe to avoid this projects should use Slash instead of mailing lists, at least the smack-tards could be moderated out of existence ;-)
    • by suv4x4 (956391) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @02:28AM (#16031846)
      Lack of leaders is not the same thing as a lack of rules

      It's not the same but you'll quickly find out how you emulate "authority" with your set of rules sooner or later, effectively ending up with leaders.

      It's the natural way. We all want to be leaders, or be equal, and that's ok, because it means there's a competition and possibility of change for the better. But if there's no concentration or "strategy" in a system, what results is a mess.

      Every system needs just about the right amount of "chaos" and "order" for it to thrive. Even democracy has elections once a few years, no every day or every hour.
      • by LordLucless (582312) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @06:17AM (#16032085)
        Actually, that's representative democracy; true democracy would have no elections. Rather, every law would be voted on by everyone before it was enacted. That's the way it was in ancient Greece. Of course, there's a large difference between an ancient Greek city-state, where only male landowners can vote, and a continent-spanning nation with general suffrage - true democracy would result in chaos in most modern nations, especially with the number of laws we currently have (although I think that a lot of that is an outgrowth of having professional lawmakers). But still, the American system of representative democracy should not be used interchangeably with democracy; they are very different beasts.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          So you say that the American, German, English, French, Dutch, Argentinian, Brazilian, ..., ..., ..., ..., system of representative democracy should not be described by the word 'democracy'. That general word is reserved for the form of government that was in vogue in a small city state, 2.5 millenia ago (and in small kantons in Switzerland). Sorry dude, but in the real world we'll be using the general form for the general case. I.e., if we're talking about modern age governments, 'democracy' always means 'r
          • I think you're right that most people use that word to refer to the current practice, but I think you're wrong in assuming they have any idea what the distinction between the two actually is. Most of the time when I hear people throw around the word "democracy" it's as the implicit idea that every individual should have a voice on every choice society is faced with. Even in our supposedly representative process here in the US, you can still see that the general belief is that each person has the right to
      • by asuffield (111848)

        It's not the same but you'll quickly find out how you emulate "authority" with your set of rules sooner or later, effectively ending up with leaders.

        What you're saying is "if you try to implement your political beliefs then you'll find that actually mine are the only ones which are right". The problem with that assertion should be obvious.

        We all want to be leaders, or be equal

        I for one do not, which disproves your thesis.

        But if there's no concentration or "strategy" in a system, what results is a mess.

        That'

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by asuffield (111848)

      I expect that the real problem with the Debian project is that they haven't yet gotten to the point of fully defining rules that enable decent and useful conversations while discouraging the less productive kinds of conversations.

      Partly, but another problem is a small but vocal contingent in Debian who either don't understand its approximately-anarchistic nature, want to be rulers, or want to be ruled - and then create a ruckus when something happens that they don't like. I used to be a Debian developer, an

  • Interesting... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SaDan (81097) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @01:33AM (#16031767) Homepage
    It's kinda interesting, the last comment regarding having a single individual who's word is basically law in a project. It's worked for the Linux kernel, and the longest surviving Linux distribution (Slackware).

    I was never a fan of the political backend of Debian, but I recognize the developers' contributions to the distribution. Maybe now that Ubuntu is popular and succeeding, a change in the way politics are done at Debian is on the horizon?
    • by lullabud (679893) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @02:24AM (#16031838) Homepage
      It's also worked for Apple's OS X, which claims to be the most widely distributed desktop version of *nix ever.

      I tend to agree that there needs to be somebody to make final decisions on matters of wide questionability. Just the other day I compiled an app on Ubuntu and moved it to RHEL3 only to find that the static libraries were in a different location. I praised Apple's build system as well as the efforts of LSB and gave up on my quest to run hacked code on RHEL3 since I'm nowhere near a guru developer. (The app compiled and ran flawlesly on OS X and Ubuntu using debian packages.)
      • by kestasjk (933987)
        FreeBSD has a board and it's successful.
        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @06:37AM (#16032113) Journal
          The difference with FreeBSD is that it is a meritocracy. If you regularly contribute code, you will be invited to become a committer, and granted write access to the repository. The core team is then elected by the committers. You only get to vote if you are an active contributor, and the elected core team then sets policy. This helps to insulate the project from people who have a lot to say, but nothing helpful to contribute.
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Sunday September 03, 2006 @01:34AM (#16031768)
    NetBSD is dying [slashdot.org]

    What you have here is someone who has taken an either/or position on formal structure. This is a fallacy that is refuted every single time it is used. 'You're either with us or against us', 'Emacs, not vi', and 'cathedral, not bazaar'.

    What is necessary is not a central bureaucracy that keeps people in line. Nor is it absolute freedom that allows any idiot to speak with equal stature of someone with multiple credentials. There are no hard and set rules that will make one project more successful or attractive than another. The best you can do is to take care of the community members that are productive and useful and try to avoid those members who are more prone to religious wars than code reviews.
  • by pepeperes (731972) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @01:45AM (#16031778) Homepage Journal
    I doubt many of Debian's greatest contributors would have been there building stuff for these years had the organization been different. Much of Debian's beauty and attractive for many is based precisely on its 'loose' or rather free structure. If it survives, or if it will disappear we do not know yet, but it right now its offspring have shown they are really strong and effective, and I guess thats one of the main reasons-to-be for almost any entity, be it living or algorithmic.
  • by ciurana (2603) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @01:51AM (#16031787) Homepage Journal
    ...with great power comes great responsibility.

    I believe that Ubuntu is on the right track because of the rules they have in place. Some open-source advocates confuse structure with lack of innovation, or with coerciveness, and thus eschew these rules which, in the long run, will hurt their cause. Anarchist behavior appears to be a good thing only in fiction. In real life it leads to erosion of the institutions that harbor it.

    The open-source community wields great power now that our software is being adopted for solving a wider range of problems. Our responsibility is to create an environment that will promote cooperation and the continuous evolution of our products and services. An environment where flamewars and egos are flaring all the time will always end up hurting the projects until they wilt and die. This hurts our collective credibility and hinders our ability to bring more open-source projects in-house.

    Cheers,

    E
  • Garrett (Score:2, Funny)

    by Cutter7 (962545)
    Welcome to the light.
  • by Chacham (981) *
    i feel like a traitor, but should i at least look at ubuntu?

    I love the wide support of Debian. That's why i've been using it for so long.
    • by BrookHarty (9119)
      i feel like a traitor, but should i at least look at ubuntu?

      Debian is mostly generic builds, but you miss few of the gnome/kde tweaks and third party applications.

      I always end up getting applications that are not in the repositories, so it comes down to the best installer. Command line and rescue mode, Debian, Graphical live boot cd, Ubuntu.

      But, I'm really impressed with Ubuntu's forums and support (Which is one of the things mentioned in the article) Some developers don't support through the main channe
      • by Chacham (981) *
        Debian is mostly generic builds, but you miss few of the gnome/kde tweaks and third party applications.

        Well, perhaps that's part of my problem. I don't know what's out there, so i just use google when i need something, and then find it in dselect. (dselect itself i find easy to use, but really hard to find something when i don't know what i'm looking for). I do download a few other items here and there, but the managed upgrades are worth so much to me.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by thrillseeker (518224)
          i just use google when i need something, and then find it in dselect.

          I think, as a continuous debian user (not developer, but I read through the occassional debian "discussions") since the very beginning, FWTFW, that the recent crowing about a better "graphical installer" as being so damned important is reflective of the frustration many longtime users and developers feel with the current debian anarpolitical process. The fact that the majority of a gaggle thinks blinking lights are the important part
          • by Chacham (981) *
            Form must follow function

            Good points overall.

            On an entirely different point, i wish there was a heirarchical ciew of all Debian Packages, or perhaps Linux software in general, per functional category.

            I may not be explaining it well, because i'm not sure if i even know what i want.
    • Doo? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by twitter (104583)

      i feel like a traitor, but should i at least look at ubuntu?

      That depends on what you want to do. If you want to play games with accelerated graphics or watch YouTube or other flash stuff, you need Ubuntu's non free goodies. If you want a sane place to put your email, web research and 95% of what computers do for people, you want Debian's free goodness. Debian runs well and upgrades gracefully. A simple rule might be: Stable on the server, Testing on your desktop, Ubuntu, Mepis, Xandros, Linspire, etc

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Yes, because you'd have to be INSANE to use Ubuntu for E-mail, Firefox and 95% of what computers do for people, such office work, solitaire and software development.

        You're full of it.

        Ubuntu is fairly stable (I've had no package dependency problems, nor untoward crashes) and is actually up to date with some packages, rather than being 1-3 years out of date with everything but security patches. If you're a developer, you may want to use it simply because you get the latest standard libraries every six months,
      • by Chacham (981) *
        Heh.

        I do use stable on my server. But i use unstable if i use it at home. I can deal with the occasional bug. :)

        If you want a sane place to put your email, web research and 95% of what computers do for people, you want Debian's free goodness.

        Good point.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Aadain2001 (684036)
        I think you have some good points, and some bad points. For any server that will be accessed by the public or even just on the company intra-net, Debian Stable is the best choice. But that doens't mean that Ubuntu is a 'toy' Linux distro. Don't discount the developer-GUI interaction. I've found Ubuntu very stable with a clean, consistent GUI that makes it easy for even beginner Linux users to interact with the system. You call it a Windows replacement, which I will agree with. It does provide a comple
    • re: Moo (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bishop (4500)
      Please install Ubuntu. You will probably stick with Debian, but you should give Ubuntu a try.

      Install Ubuntu with the default Gnome desktop and without the Universe repository. It will give you the best feel for what Ubuntu is all about. I found the Gnome desktop to be well integrated and everything more or less just worked. (And I don't like Gnome.) If you find that you are adding multiple packages from Universe or switching to one of the other desktop environments, you are better to stick with Debian. Debi
  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Sunday September 03, 2006 @02:14AM (#16031827) Homepage Journal
    Put a group of alpha geeks in a room and start a discussion. Inevitably, they spend more time trying to prove to each other who is the smartest than they do actually pushing forward the discussion. Why is that?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Because we're all a bunch of intellectually narcissistic gits?

      That's a serious answer.
    • by gardyloo (512791) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @03:34AM (#16031916)
      Put a group of alpha geeks in a room and start a discussion. Inevitably, they spend more time trying to prove to each other who is the smartest than they do actually pushing forward the discussion. Why is that?

            Is THAT your best attempt at starting a discussion?!? What a freaking IDIOT!!!
    • Because we are human. Humans have instincts that make us continually attempt to improve our position in whatever heirarchy we find ourselves. If we find ourselves in a new group, then we try to establish a hierarchy. Geeks aren't much different than normal folks in this regard.

      Pointing out the mistakes of others, belittling them, and speaking to them condescendingly are all ways to push others lower in the hierarchy. Pushing others down means we end up higher in the hierarchy. Self-promotion, showing o
  • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrNaz (730548) * on Sunday September 03, 2006 @02:27AM (#16031842) Homepage
    I disagree with this developer's comments, and suggest that perhaps his way of thinking is perhaps not suited to a meritocracy. Perhaps he needs an authority to appeal to in situations of disagreement.

    While having one point of authority is good if you are looking to conduct a project under corporate type structures, it is undesirable if you are looking to adhere to principles of community involvement and community focused agendas.

    I agree that it must be acknowledged that not all developers are equal, but disagree that this must be explicitly stated somewhere. In an open, meritocratic forum, relative skill levels become apparent fairly quickly, and if you need full and formal recognition of your work, then you are out of place in the open source community.

    I have found the Debian mailing lists to be quite helpful, and if there genuinely is a lack of an appropriate forum for technical discussions, then this is a minor administrative problem (i.e., get a moderator to keep discussions on topic in the developer lists), not an intractable structural problem.

    In any case, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and I find it difficult to accept that the "Debian Way" is broken when the project is so old, so well regarded, and so successful.

    Garrett: If you are unable to work in the Debian project becuase your ideas conflict with it, then don't be blaming the Debian project. It may simply be the case, as with many relationship breakdowns, that your ideals and theirs are simply incompatible.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by JanneM (7445)
      I disagree with this developer's comments, and suggest that perhaps his way of thinking is perhaps not suited to a meritocracy. Perhaps he needs an authority to appeal to in situations of disagreement.

      "Meritocracy" means having authority - selected with skill in the field as the criterion (as opposed to connecitons, external resources, charisma or what have you). It means some people have more say than others based on their skill, not that there is no authority.
      • by cheros (223479)
        As I posted earlier, even in a meritocracy you need leadership. As long as participants (a) recognise that leadership is a skill in itself (b) respect the person herding the cats for doing that job and (c) the leader has the trust and support of the group (which is where the authority comes in, as well as strong personal ethics and honesty) it'll work.

        The trust is the hard bit - it's a special skill to manage a number of often quite strong personalities. People that are good at what they do /know/ they ar
    • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jsebrech (525647) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @04:28AM (#16031968)
      In any case, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and I find it difficult to accept that the "Debian Way" is broken when the project is so old, so well regarded, and so successful.

      Speaking as a disgruntled ex-debian user, I can assure you that a lot of people only consider the project old, not well regarded or successful. I consider it a niche OS that will remain a niche OS until it gets its act together.

      The failings of the debian project that made me move away from it were numerous but revolved around a lack of direction. The project came across as a collection of developers that solved their own pet problems, instead of a community focused on a clearly defined central goal, led by knowledgeable leaders. What I wanted out of debian was first of all for it to be up-to-date (something it never succeeded in, despite many attempts to "fix" the system), and for it to be well-suited both as a server OS and as a desktop OS. It was well-suited as a server OS, but only if you didn't need to run anything too new, and only if you weren't afraid of the command-line. The only way to make it usable as a desktop OS was endless tinkering.

      It's no mystery why the most successful OSS projects have strong central leadership. Vision can't be parallellized. You can maintain a piece of software in cooperative fashion, but if you try to apply direction to it you need one or a few people who have the authority on what that direction is, or your ship will just sail in circles.
      • by mickwd (196449)
        "What I wanted out of debian was first of all for it to be up-to-date....."

        This would read better as "What I wanted out of [my (linux) operating system] was first of all for it to be up-to-date".

        Of all the popular Linux distributions you could have chosen, you made posibly the worst choice of all if what you wanted first of all was something up-to-date. That is not Debian's strength.

        Also, I don't think anyone wanting to run a Linux server should be "afraid of" the command line.
      • by ultranova (717540)

        The failings of the debian project that made me move away from it were numerous but revolved around a lack of direction. The project came across as a collection of developers that solved their own pet problems, instead of a community focused on a clearly defined central goal, led by knowledgeable leaders. What I wanted out of debian was first of all for it to be up-to-date (something it never succeeded in, despite many attempts to "fix" the system), and for it to be well-suited both as a server OS and as a

        • by TobascoKid (82629)
          It is somewhat illogical to accuse Debian from lack of direction, when by your own words it has a direction: a commandline-driven server OS. It has direction, the direction simply happens to be different from what you want it to be.

          But where on the Debian homepage does it state that "The direction of Debian is to be a commandline-line driven server OS"?. It doesn't because that isn't Debian's direction - Debian doesn't have any direction at all, it just happens to be a reasonable server OS (but then, Ubuntu
    • I disagree with you. Even a meritocracy needs some method of breaking deadlock. The challenge is to find what I'd term an 'enlightened' leader. To define the term, it's a leader who him/herself is as ego-free as you can get it, sets achievable aims and who can balance out discussions in a fair but focused and constructive way. I certainly class Linus Torvalds and Mark Shuttleworth in that category, Linus by reputation and what he does, and Mark because I know him (and again, by what he has done and is d
    • Re:No. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anthony Boyd (242971) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @06:57AM (#16032132) Homepage
      While having one point of authority is good if you are looking to conduct a project under corporate type structures, it is undesirable if you are looking to adhere to principles of community involvement and community focused agendas.

      While that may be true in some cases, it's not true in cases like Linux, or Perl, or Ubuntu. Therefore, while I am not going to suggest that your point is incorrect, I am going to suggest that your point is diminished by counterpoints.


      I agree that it must be acknowledged that not all developers are equal, but disagree that this must be explicitly stated somewhere. In an open, meritocratic forum, relative skill levels become apparent fairly quickly, and if you need full and formal recognition of your work, then you are out of place in the open source community.

      I'm going to 100% disagree here. It has been my sad experience that -- as someone else mentioned here on Slashdot -- "megaphone democracy" is what you get. The person who speaks loudest the longest wins. But I'm not even upset about that, now that I've experienced that and understand it. You see, the core group that does the most is very often very small. And they're surrounded by a large group of sorta-disconnected sometimes-contributors. That large group is not well informed, and you cannot blame them. They have lives. They've decided that other things are priorities. That's fair. But that also means that they cannot be expected to judge who has skills. All they know is who has been helpful for the 3 interactions they've had on the project. And sometimes, the person who has been helpful to them was a PITA to everyone else.

      This is how humanity is. I do not blame, because I've had to pick & choose what gets my attention, too. But now that I understand this, I know that your argument that skill levels become apparent just ain't so. Not for the majority. It's a pipe dream. Especially in this context -- chatter on mailing lists.


      Garrett: If you are unable to work in the Debian project becuase your ideas conflict with it, then don't be blaming the Debian project. It may simply be the case, as with many relationship breakdowns, that your ideals and theirs are simply incompatible.

      That may be true. It may also be the case that as an insider who has been a good contributor, he has seen the core of the apple, so to speak. He may be in a good position to reveal what's rotten. Write him off at your own peril.

  • That is nothing new. Linus fills that position for the kernel. Mark has the potential to be that for the whole Linux OS. Lets hope he is into Ubuntu for the long haul.
  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @04:07AM (#16031953) Homepage
    Who would've thought that civilized, focused discussion would be more productive than a free-for-all...

    I love Debian, but I've long had the suspicion that part of the reason Debian has such a long time between releases (which I view as a mostly good thing) is because they've got too much of a "free form" development process. That's good for small projects, and it served Debian well in the past, but Debian's scope has broaded so much in the last 5+ years that new considerations should be made...
  • by tonymercmobily (658708) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @06:33AM (#16032104) Homepage Journal
    Hello,

    I can see two problems with the way people are interpreting what happened.

    The first one is that a lot of people are implying "One developer has left. Big deal. Somebody will step in". FALSE. A single, skilled developer can make the difference between a successful project and an unsuccessful one. As many good manages know, replacing a good worker is _very_ hard - sometimes impossible.

    The second problem, is that a lot of people here have written comments without reading the mailing lists. Somebody implied "oh, it's the developer's fault, he shouldn't have been bothered in the first place". FALSE. Garrett really cares about the debian project; I generally agreed with what he said; lately, I was thinking "Geee, if I were him, I would quit". He found some of the tones grating as you guys would have if you cared about the project - and, above anything else, if you had read some of the messages in the mailing list. Accusatory. Unnecessary. Excruciating. Always coming from the "usual suspects" - who nobody seems to be able to shut up.

    More and more people will leave, unless things change - rapidly.

    Merc.
    Editor In Chief
    http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/ [freesoftwaremagazine.com]
    • by gbjbaanb (229885)
      sounds like they need a moderating system in their mailing lists (wouldn't work, they'd need to change to a forum), and perhaps some meta-moderators to get rid of the trolls and other unhelpful 'contributors'.
  • Churchill (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Britz (170620) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @07:18AM (#16032150) Homepage
    "Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

    That's what Churchill had to say about such matters. Indeed many people still don't know how to deal with trolls. Some people just like to get all up in arms from time to time I suppose. Other than that maybe he should have just announced that he was ignoring some people and that replies to those people should be marked somewhere so that he can sort them as well automatically. So that those people that like to respond to trolls can do so and don't confuse the ones that don't.
    • Except that we're not talking about governments here. A Debian "king" doesn't have the power to tax, imprison or execute. It doesn't have the authority to coerce behavior. Thus Churchill's commentary on government does not apply.
  • by bettyfjord (787431) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @07:19AM (#16032151)
    Although no one's come and out explicitly mentioned it yet, it strikes me that Mr Garrett is saying that traditional corporate structures work best when developing software.

    Enforced rules of conduct, a formal structure, an acknowledgement that not everyone is equal is skill or knowledge and a single leader who has the power of final decision. Strip out the jargon and it sounds pretty much exactly like a traditional office environment.

    Does this mean that while OSS has made many people rethink distribution and revenue models, open source development will mature into exactly what we have now?
    • Why do you say "traditional corporate structure"? Is it meant to be a subtle pejorative? Because what you are describing is "traditional organizational structure". Get your mind off corporations and look around. This is the virtually all successful organizations are structured. Governments, social clubs, schools, churches, sports teams, etc. Even bazaars.

      Just because there are rules and a structure does not mean the "bazaar" is selling out to the "cathedral".
  • Overseeing a committee, is most likley the best way to run things ( even countries ). As long as the guy at the top isnt into a power trip.
  • Wait a minute. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by crhylove (205956) <rhy@leperkhanz.com> on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:01AM (#16032464) Homepage Journal
    Just because having one person at the top (fascism) is simpler in some ways for some issues, doesn't mean it's the best way, the right way, or the even the easiest way. It's not like the debian project couldn't VOTE to administer a code of conduct. It's not like the chaos method they've been using the whole time hasn't resulted in one of THE BEST OSES IN HISTORY. Can we get more news, and less arbitrary opinions from nut jobs who admire low level thinking as it's own virtue? That goes for the government here, as well as for /..
  • by alcmaeon (684971) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @11:14AM (#16032682)

    This discussion sounds a lot like the divisiion between Marx's authoritarian communism and Bakunin's libertarian socialism.

    Garrett's comments can be summed up as: "I don't develop for Debian because people don't treat me with the respect I think I deserve. Debian needs a dictator to make everyone be nice and make me feel happy."

  • Free 2B U and Me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @11:34AM (#16032755) Homepage Journal
    So Garrett didn't fit in with the rest of the Debian community, despite his technical aptitude. There are plenty of social specs that take priority in communities, even mailing lists, which are often independent of technical qualities. Garrett apparently didn't like the Debian "anything goes" style in developer discussion, so he left.

    No problem. He can switch to Ubuntu's team. Sounds like they'll be glad to have him. And interested people in the Debian community can still use Garrett's Ubuntu work to improve Debian, as it's all GPL. This is the strength of openness, both in the software and in the groups of people. When we can choose how and with whom (and with what) we work, we can work the way most productive for us. And thereby, for everyone else in the cycle.
  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @08:35PM (#16034756)
    Ubuntu seems like a good idea, but for one item. . .

    It's organized using the pyramid-power design. --That is, one all powerful individual at the top, and then cascading levels of management beneath. This is, of course, the standard model for most large organizations in the world, including business, military, government, religion, etc.

    The problem is that such systems lend themselves to easy corruption by the forces of greed and self-service.

    There is an alternative system for organizing, and it uses a cell-based power distribution system with no one individual at the top and no downward cascading power structure. Organic systems throughout the biosphere use the cell-based method of organization to great effect. --And many open source projects seem to work this way as well.

    One of the noteworthy factors about Cell-Based systems is that they are far less easily corrupted by greed and self-serving individuals because everybody has the power to call attention to all manner of problems without the threat of recrimination or dismissal; without having their complaints arbitrarily over-turned by individuals who might be driven by ego and emotional concerns. Psychopaths are well suited to successfully infesting and rising through the ranks of pyramidally based power structures, because they are drawn to power. But when power is evenly distributed as it is in Cell-Based structures, where are they drawn to? --And how much more easily are problem individuals such as the psychpathic or sociopathic personality noticed and weeded out?

    --It seems to me that the idea of being of non-self-service, but rather other-serving in orientation, (no multi-million dollar salaries for CEO's), is directly related to an entire pattern of thinking and awareness, part of which is intrinsically linked to the decisions for how the power and 'command' structure of the organization is laid out, either Cell-Based, or Pyramidal.

    I think it serves well to be attentive of these two patterns and how they affect our world.


    -FL

"The only way for a reporter to look at a politician is down." -- H.L. Mencken

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