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Debian The Almighty Buck

Debian Delayed by Disenchanted Developers 329

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the look-at-all-that-alliteration dept.
Torus Kas writes "Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 was supposed to be due by December 4 and development is currently frozen. Apparently the saga was triggered by disenchantment towards funding of $6,000 for each of the 2 release managers to work full-time in order to speed up the development. Many unpaid developers simply put off Debian work to work on something else."
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Debian Delayed by Disenchanted Developers

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  • Dumb Editor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alphager (957739) <florian.haas@nOsPAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @02:48PM (#17316248) Homepage Journal
    The development is NOT frozen. The Packages going into Etch are frozen, meaning that the current versions will get into etch with all the necessary bugfixes. development is on full steam.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @03:04PM (#17316510)
      The problem is that dunk-tanc.org really is splitting the community. What they're providing is valuable to some - and does indeed help some problems - but unfortunately it's counterproductive to others people's needs and wants.

      You've now got a subset of Debian guys motivated by money, and the rest of them still motivated by making a quality Linux distribution. Sometimes those interests are aligned (as the guys who set up dunc-tank observed) but sometimes those interests are NOT (as the guys who started Caldera and Novell now see when Microsoft can easily use the motivated-by-money lever to change the course of the projects).

      IMHO, Debian should stay Debian - and stay as far away from money and paid work as possible -- and let organziations like Ubuntu build the corporate bureacracy stuff like release schedules, support contracts, etc. I hope Ubuntu buys dunc-tank.org and takes those employees with them -- because they and their work are useful for corporate marketing -- but do more harm than good to Debian development.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @03:23PM (#17316796)
        So what you're saying is that Debian is for fucked-up smelly hippies who just can't handle the idea that people need money to live? Debian is too "pure" for anyone to get a pittance for their contribution? If you want your work accepted in Debian you'd better be independently wealthy? Oh fine. Sure sounds like the GNU ideal to me.
        • by RLiegh (247921) * on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @04:27PM (#17317820) Homepage Journal
          >So what you're saying is that Debian is for fucked-up smelly hippies who just can't handle the idea that people need money to live?

          No. He's saying that he'd prefer that the people contributing to Debian are motivated by the desire to solve problems, and to make a good product better; as opposed to having debian be contributed by programmers whose attitude is "whatever, fuck it, it's good enough; where's my ten bucks?".

          And he's not alone in that sentiment...not alone at all.
          • by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @05:59PM (#17319264) Homepage Journal

            That's one of the most self-righteous, idiotic statements I've ever heard. You're saying that anybody who gets paid to do something does it for the money and doesn't care about the quality of what they do. That's bullshit, of the smelliest variety. I get paid for most of what I do, but I take pride in my work. I've walked away from jobs — jobs were I was getting paid huge amounts of money — because there were other factors that made the job professionally or ethically unacceptable. And I'm not alone.

            I'm guessing you've never had to worry about paying the bills or having a place to live. If you had, you'd know that sometimes people have to say, "God, I'd love to work on that, but I need to be doing something that brings in some money."

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by RLiegh (247921) *
              >That's one of the most self-righteous, idiotic statements I've ever heard.
              NO U.

              >You're saying that anybody who gets paid to do something does it for the money and doesn't care about the quality of what they do.

              No, I'm saying that a lot of people would prefer that whoever is commiting to debian does so for the right reasons, and not because they're simply collecting a bounty.

              >I get paid for most of what I do, but I take pride in my work.
              So you're working in a stable and fulfilling job as opposed to
            • by dubl-u (51156) * <2523987012@pota . t o> on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @07:39PM (#17320216)
              You're saying that anybody who gets paid to do something does it for the money and doesn't care about the quality of what they do.

              There is a vast array of evidence that giving extrinsic rewards (like money) can reduce the quality and creativity of work when compared with intrinsic motivation. That's not to say that all people taking a paycheck will do shitty work. But I can list case after case in my professional life where I've seen reward schemes harm software projects.

              For example, I recently charged some people a lot of money to clean up a mostly functional but hugely messy code base. The thing was almost impossible to debug, and completely impossible to improve. There were large amounts of what turned out to be dead code, a bunch of mismatched abstractions, and make-it-work hacks galore. What kind of idiot would build something like that?

              It turned out that the programmer was perfectly smart, but the people who had hired him wanted the product really soon, so they structured it as a fixed-price deal with the price dropping every day. Naturally, he rushed, and by the time he pushed it over the line it was a terrible mess.
      • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Thursday December 21, 2006 @05:51AM (#17323334) Homepage
        The FSF has employed paid developers for years. It doesn't seem to have distracted them from their goals of free software or led to them being corrupted by Microsoft.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by msobkow (48369)

      I know a lot of people using Debian and other distros. With the OSS licensing, I don't see why Debian doesn't get more respect for focusing on stability.

  • by HighOrbit (631451) * on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @02:51PM (#17316284)
    There is an update on Andreas Barth's Blog [turmzimmer.net] that says "Update: There are media rumours floating around that "[Etch has] been delayed because some developers have deliberately slowed down their work". This doesn't reflect what I said."

    The article did not say what packages were delayed specifically, but Debian is known to have an insane number of packages. Perhaps some culling is in order. I'm not part of the project, just an appreciative user, but here are my two cents.
    1. Cut the distro down to what will fit on one CD (two max). That will reduce a lot of Debian's headaches. Less for them to maintain and less to test between releases. Everything else can be put into contributed non-official repositories
    2. Don't be so anal and patch-happy with mainstream packages. Big projects like Gnome and KDE already do extensive testing upstream. Those packages should be able to move more quickly through the unstable-testing-stable cycle without sacrificing stability or extensive patching. How much of the debian patching on these type of big projects is *really* functionally necessary versus "I 'm the debian package mantainer and I want to put my mark on it".

    About the project being "frozen", I don't know about that. I have a laptop running etch-testing. I did an apt-get dist-upgrade in mid-Nov , put it away for a few weeks and ran it again in early-Dec (don't remember exact dates). Something like 70 packages needed upgrades.
    • by inigo_jones (1041346) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @02:59PM (#17316416)
      >> "Cut the distro down to what will fit on one CD (two max)...."

      dont do it Debian... its great to be able to apt-cache search and apt-get install almost anything. such a huge collection of available software that JUST WORKS is great. a little (or lot) longer release cycle doesnt really effect the bulk of users who just use "testing" anyway.

      my 2 cents. Debian's base of huge packages, and apt are great assets. apt-get into it :-)
      • by HighOrbit (631451) *
        I think the apt-cache search function will work on any repository (official or not) in your apt sources list. My point is to let the maintainers do what they want, but don't let them act as a drag on the whole project.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by bubkus_jones (561139)
        Apt works with non-official repositories. What the parent wants is the official, default, debian sources to be slimmed down to something more managable, the main packages people use, while the rest of it can be set to third-party repositories that people can add in (or activate) as they need. Hell, they could be included in the sources.list file, just commented out until those who need them activate them (like Ubuntu does).

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        How about a special package (call it apt-repo or something) that is a list of somewhat-blessed unofficial repositories? This can be updated fairly frequently, with contributors (either debian project members, or other existing package maintainers) adding their own repositories. These then get built into sources.list - the package's only functional file. A simple apt-get install apt-repo merges the updated sources with the system's current copy. Presto chango! A neat debianesque way to preserve the existing
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by gek (634926)
      Cut the distro down to what will fit on one CD (two max). That will reduce a lot of Debian's headaches. Less for them to maintain and less to test between releases. Everything else can be put into contributed non-official repositories

      I don't agree with you on this one. The biggest power of Debian is that most packages, even obscure one, fit into one distribution with all the testing and dependancies being resolved. I have experience with Red hat, Suze, and solaris (ouch on that one) systems where instal

    • by und0 (928711) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @03:10PM (#17316618)
      Don't be so anal and patch-happy with mainstream packages. Big projects like Gnome and KDE already do extensive testing upstream.

      You sure about that? I've read recently from an upstream Gnome developer that GTK lacks maintainers ( http://blogs.gnome.org/view/timj/2006/12/20/0 [gnome.org] ), Etch will ship Gnome 2.14 because of unresolved GTK bugs, so what you're saying seems quite wrong...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209)

      Debian is known to have an insane number of packages. Perhaps some culling is in order.

      IMO, the value of a distribution is almost nothing but the number of supported packages, and how up-to-date they are. (Granted there is tension between these two). Even gentoo is struggling, as seemingly half the time, the package I want to install is masked.

      Linux would be so much better if there were a single de-facto package management system, and vastly fewer dependencies between packages. The license is free!

    • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @03:19PM (#17316744) Homepage
      About the project being "frozen", I don't know about that. I have a laptop running etch-testing. I did an apt-get dist-upgrade in mid-Nov , put it away for a few weeks and ran it again in early-Dec (don't remember exact dates). Something like 70 packages needed upgrades.

      Well, debian goes through a few stages of freeze. Base freeze was some time ago, general freeze was Dec 11th, but still there's something like 130 RC bugs that needs to be solved. I think the original plan called for something like 1.5mo of freeze, so probably sometime in January.

      In any case, this is not what I call a big delay, it's maybe a month behind a release schedule of every 18 months, whereas the last took something like three years. 18 months is basicly the same as Ubuntu LTS and many other server oriented distros, if you want quicker updates go for (K)Ubuntu.

      From what I gather the Debian system does a lot more than simply packing up whatever upstream does, but I think they could differentiate on levels of support. For non-server software I imagine that for many of the packages, there's no upstream support for so old versions anyway.
    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @03:28PM (#17316864) Homepage

      Cut the distro down to what will fit on one CD (two max). That will reduce a lot of Debian's headaches. Less for them to maintain and less to test between releases. Everything else can be put into contributed non-official repositories

      I think that what's really great about Debian is that it has such wide support for everything. If there's a distro capable of being anything to anyone, and still doing everything pretty well, it's probably Debian. There are plenty of other projects that do just what you're talking about. They take Debian, reduce the number of packages to what makes sense for a particular purpose, and that allows more work to be done on fewer packages in less time, creating a distro that's more specialized. Why would you want Debian to do that, too?

      • by HighOrbit (631451) *

        I think that what's really great about Debian is that it has such wide support for everything. If there's a distro capable of being anything to anyone, and still doing everything pretty well, it's probably Debian. There are plenty of other projects that do just what you're talking about. They take Debian, reduce the number of packages to what makes sense for a particular purpose, and that allows more work to be done on fewer packages in less time, creating a distro that's more specialized. Why would you wa

        • Yes, you could do that, but that's not what Debian is right now. It's not a core that has been heavily worked on. It's a huge repository of packages that are close to the vanilla version of those pieces of software, but tested to work together with the other packages. Changing what Debian is so drastically would possibly solve some problems, but would be just as likely to introduce others. For example, if you have this core with third parties working on extensions, what reason do you have to believe tha

        • by MrHanky (141717)
          Of course. But why turn Debian into yet another *ubuntu? We who actually use Debian like it better than the alternatives. (I usually run Sid, though.)
      • by DrSkwid (118965)
        s/Debian/FreeBSD/g
    • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @03:48PM (#17317152) Journal
      Debian is known to have an insane number of packages. Perhaps some culling is in order.

      You're crazy. The whole point of debian is so that you can apt-get everything in the freaking universe. I never have to go hunting down packages, that means a lot to me. Sure 90% of users only use 10% of the packages, but it's never the same 10%. So if you start just dropping packages, you're going to piss people off.

      Cut the distro down to what will fit on one CD (two max). That will reduce a lot of Debian's headaches. Less for them to maintain and less to test between releases.

      And less reason for anyone to use debian. If you want something that's pared down to a CD and doesn't offer you a lot of choice up front, try ubuntu.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by asuffield (111848)

      Cut the distro down to what will fit on one CD (two max). That will reduce a lot of Debian's headaches. Less for them to maintain and less to test between releases.

      That will accomplish nothing. You clearly don't understand how Debian is developed. Each package is maintained by people who care about getting that particular package in the next release. If it's working at that point, it goes in. If it isn't, it gets thrown out, and nobody else wastes any time on it. There is no conceivable reason why throwing

    • by arivanov (12034) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @04:00PM (#17317332) Homepage
      You have just described RedHat. No thanks.

      I would rather have Debian release schedules, but have all the packages that are in it. Most of the sysadmins out there who deploy debian do it exactly because "Resistance is futile, you shall be packaged" and because "apt-get install light" works 99.99% of the time.

      As a result there is a working platform on which to build services and commercial software regardless of what insane libraries your developers have chosen this time. Whatever it is, it can be apt-get installed. In the very rare cases you sometimes have to backport a version from testing, but someone has already solved most of the dependencies for you.

      Trying something similar with RedHat quickly brings you into the land of RPM hell. I always love watching sysadmins suffering while trying to support development in a RedHat shop (especially where developers have su/sudo access). It is immensely entertaining to watch the network fall apart and be reduced to a random collection of machines all different from each other and each in its own circle of the RPM hell none being able to produce a release build.

      So from the perspective of someone who has been running Debian driven networks for 6+ years and with 5+ years of supporting Debian as a base for commercial development I can say - no thank you, you misunderstood what brings most sysadmins to Debian. It is the best *nix development platform out there.
      • by srvivn21 (410280) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @06:19PM (#17319474)
        First off, I have nothing against Debian, and I don't advocate any changes to it's development model. I just can't abide baseless slander such as what you have posted.

        You have just described RedHat. No thanks.

        Yikes. This is so wrong. First, RHEL 4 comes on 4 CDs, not one or two. Second, many packages supplied by RH are patched so far that the original developers won't provide support on the mailing lists (Squid, OpenLDAP for concrete examples). Others are maintained by RedHat, which either makes them massively patched, or not patched at all. Neither of the points given really apply to RedHat.

        I would rather have Debian release schedules, but have all the packages that are in it. Most of the sysadmins out there who deploy debian do it exactly because "Resistance is futile, you shall be packaged" and because "apt-get install light" works 99.99% of the time.

        I'd bet that most of the sysadmins who prefer Debian do so because it's what they are familiar and comfortable with it...such as yourself.

        As a result there is a working platform on which to build services and commercial software regardless of what insane libraries your developers have chosen this time. Whatever it is, it can be apt-get installed. In the very rare cases you sometimes have to backport a version from testing, but someone has already solved most of the dependencies for you.

        Trying something similar with RedHat quickly brings you into the land of RPM hell. I always love watching sysadmins suffering while trying to support development in a RedHat shop (especially where developers have su/sudo access). It is immensely entertaining to watch the network fall apart and be reduced to a random collection of machines all different from each other and each in its own circle of the RPM hell none being able to produce a release build.

        Am I to take it that you are saying Debian based systems are immune to this? Not so much the RPM hell (duh, Debian doesn't use RPMs), but the random collection of machines all different from each other even though the developers have root access? How, pray tell, do you manage that? Block access to the apt repositories?

        So from the perspective of someone who has been running Debian driven networks for 6+ years and with 5+ years of supporting Debian as a base for commercial development I can say - no thank you, you misunderstood what brings most sysadmins to Debian. It is the best *nix development platform out there.

        First, what does System Administration have to do with developing software? A Sysadmin's job is keeping the boxes running, not crafting applications to run on them. If a system admin WERE to develop software, perhaps he wouldn't use libraries that require such acrobatics his box is endangered? Second, big commercial software developers seem to disagree with you. For example, BEA, BMC Software, Hyperion, IBM, Sybase and Symantec [redhat.com], Lyris [lyris.com], VMWare [vmware.com], Oracle [oracle.com], and Elluminate [elluminate.com]. These are just software products that either I deal with on a regular basis or came up with in a quick search.

        Why, if Debian is the best development platform in existance, would that be the case? Debian Stable changes at least as infrequently as RHEL, so it shouldn't be a matter of code stability.

        Perhaps your dealings with RedHat based distributions have been less than plesant, but if you want commercial application support, it's either RH or SUSE. Tools for dealing with RPMs have advanced quite a bit in the last 5 years, and FWIW, I have no problems getting a bo

    • Why would you want Debian to reproduce Ubuntu? Ubuntu already exists!

      Debian's really great because it's Debian. It has packages for everything, and it has extensive testing that produces super-stable server releases. Everything fits together well because the developers are willing to patch stuff to make it work the way they want it to.

    • by tacocat (527354)

      I'll be one of the first to protest...

      A lot of the stuff that I use every single day doesn't show up on the first CD. One of the benefits of Debian is that it has just about everything in deb packages already waiting for you to use. I find it an advantage.

      And did you know that you can install Debian with only a 128MB USB memory stick or a single CD? I've never downloaded all the CD's and doubt that I ever will.

      As for KDE and Gnome. I want the testing. There is nothing worse than a trashed desktop.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Louis Guerin (728805)
      They call it `Ubuntu', and Debian persists because a bunch of people still want 15,000+ supported packages.

      Yes, Ubuntu has {un,mult}iverse, but only *because* Debian continues to support those packages.

      L
  • by Otter (3800) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @02:53PM (#17316318) Journal
    My first reaction to the headline was to wonder why this is news. If anything, it's "Debian developers pause mailing list flamewar, release software" that would be newsworthy.

    But it's actually a fascinating case of unintended consequences -- hiring some full-time workers seems to have had precisely the opposite effective of the intended. It's a lesson worth considering before deciding that, say, what some third world country really, really needs is millions of laptops dumped on their children.

    • hiring some full-time workers seems to have had precisely the opposite effective of the intended

      What I want to know is, who can afford to live on 6K fulltime?

      Is there a zero missing?

      • by Qzukk (229616)
        who can afford to live on 6K fulltime?

        They're being paid for a month or two, not a whole year.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        What I want to know is, who can afford to live on 6K fulltime?

        In the Philippines the average yearly salary for software developers was right at $6K, last time I checked. I expect that other 3rd world countries are similar.

        Not that deb guys were filipinos, just answering the more general question.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        The master was sitting in meditation when a student asked him that question. He said, "Enlightenment comes in two parts. The first part is called 'three roommates', and the second is called 'Ramen noodles'."

        "But what about dating? Cars? Entertainment? Retirement?" the student asked.

        And the master did fling a Ramen noodle at the wall, and it stuck. In this way, the student was enlightened.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by larry bagina (561269)

      hiring some full-time workers seems to have had precisely the opposite effective of the intended.

      not workers... managers. I think most technical/coder/slashdot types have the same general opinion of managers and management (*cough* parasites *cough*). Many open source projects have paid individual programmers with no backlash. And many companies pay for programmers to write open source code. Sometimes it doesn't work out (ie, the XEmacs/Emacs split), but it doesn't usually outrage other developers.

    • Never try to help anyone but yourself. Trying to help yourself is noble and good. Helping others is based on the delusion that you can even try to put yourself in another's shoes and understand what they need or want. It will only lead to heartache. Selfishness is next to Godliness. Which is next to sarcasm, in case you couldn't figure that one out.
  • Pffft (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phrostie (121428) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @02:54PM (#17316334)
    i've been running debian/etch(testing) for ages. the whole freeze thing doesn't matter to me.
    i don't know what everyone else has their apt sources pointed at, but the rate of updates haven't changed any that i can see.

    take your time, make it stable.
    then i'll switch to what ever the next one is.
    • Re:Pffft (Score:5, Insightful)

      by croddy (659025) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @03:01PM (#17316448)

      I'm not even sure who's clamoring for Etch to release. Anyone who needs the latest toys can run it already, and anyone who really needs the stability of Debian Stable knows that it will be released when it's ready.

      It's the other distros that seem to be in a huge hurry. To each his own; that's why we have more than one distro.

  • by Wee (17189) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @02:55PM (#17316348)
    Is it the "GNU" part or the "Linux" part that is going to be delayed?

    I kid because I love. :-)

    -B

  • by ishmalius (153450) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @02:55PM (#17316350)
    Now -that- is how to write an irritating alliterative headline! ^^

  • by heroine (1220) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @02:57PM (#17316382) Homepage
    Funny isn't it, how no matter how many times humans start over with a utopian system, they end up concentrating their wealth into a small number of strong leaders and leaving a large number of impoverished citizens. We really are programmed to institutionalize.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by NDPTAL85 (260093)
      If is funny. The question now is where do we go from here? Continue to be ashamed of our intrinsic natures and stick to faulty societal models (socialism) or accept ourselves as the selfish beings that we are and finally become comfortable with capitalism?

      Of course this is all assuming you accept the premise to begin with, which I do.
      • by suv4x4 (956391) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @03:21PM (#17316776)
        If is funny. The question now is where do we go from here? Continue to be ashamed of our intrinsic natures and stick to faulty societal models (socialism) or accept ourselves as the selfish beings that we are and finally become comfortable with capitalism?

        You see, both models are actually part of our intrinsic nature. As separate beings, capitalism makes sense. As cogs in a large system (or cells in an organism if you will), socialism makes sense.

        Since we're currently on the borderline between separate beings, and part of one "uber-being" (society), such conflicts will always arise again and again.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by siufish (814496)
        It is also interesting to see how the leading capitalist economies moving from laissez-faire to mono/oligopolistic capitalism, and then also a large increase in government legislation and expenditure since the Depression.

        Maybe neither pure socialism or pure capitalism is the answer?
      • by SharpFang (651121)
        You can be sure whoever gets the short end of the stick in capitalism, won't be comfortable with it. And if you take care so that nobody does, you get socialism. Capitalism is based on a constant struggle, the strong and rich try to exploit and squash the poor and weak, and the poor and weak try to pull them down and grab a handful for themselves. If they all start working towards equality, capitalism ends, socialism begins. If the rich lose, you have a revolution and anarchy, if the poor lose, you have feu
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by NDPTAL85 (260093)
          You are correct that in capitalism competition occurs. You are incorrect on where it occurs however. Its not between the poor and the rich. Its between two peoples of any walk of life. There is no limit on how many times you can try again. Those who are on the bottom are those who constantly fail and hardly ever succeed or those who don't even try to begin with. No one wins or loses all the time but some do win or lose most of the time. Each matchup carries potential victory for either side but if you have
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by poopdeville (841677)
            There is no limit on how many times you can try again.

            I was under the impression that most people are mortal.

            Those who are on the bottom are those who constantly fail and hardly ever succeed or those who don't even try to begin with.

            And with that, you completely discredit yourself.

            To be a successful capitalist, you need *surprise* capital to start with. Not everyone is born with a silver spoon in their mouths. A lot of people work very hard and barely earn enough to feed and clothes their families. They
      • Of course this is all assuming you accept the premise to begin with, which I do.

        It's not clear exactly what your premise is, but if it is that software ownership can be defined in terms of socialism and capitalism, then that would be a bad assumption to make.

        The conflict between the two economic philosophies is mostly about the management of rivalrous resources, i.e. stuff that gets used up. Software is inherently non-rivalrous so any direct application of the ideas of either economic philosophy to softwar
        • by NDPTAL85 (260093)
          I don't think its a bad assumption to make at all. People assume that since software is a digital product and copying it is almost without expense that it is a totally non-scarce material.

          Once it has been made, this is true. But the development of said software still depends on limited resources, skillful programmers. Then once it is made it needs skillful maintainers. A few thousand open source contributers does not equal either. Their skill livels MAY be as good as the original developers, most often its
    • I think this shows something slightly different. Not that there is something in our nature which compels us to concentrate our wealth, but that rather it is something of a forced move -- even when our nature inclines us not to arrange our institutions in this way, obstacles arrange themselves such that this choice is compelled.
    • by bwy (726112)
      no matter how many times humans start over with a utopian system

      That is funny, my idea of a utopian system is where everyone who works gets compensated. I am not a fan of servitude, although our leaders (most recently Clinton and Bush) encourage it. It sounds like what happened with Debian is a perfect example of the system you favor breaking down. It is hard to convince people to work for free (thus taking away time from their family/friends or other interests) but rewarding them with compensation wo
    • I think its actually a perfect example of status anxiety. People were all happy when they were working (or percieved to be working) for the same wage (free) and a measure of equality. But as soon as some were elevated above the others, anxiety took root. Theres a book and a 2004 documentary film on the concept. It really is a perfect example.

  • Many other open source projects -- distributions included -- are developed by a mix of full-time paid contributors and unpaid volunteers. And yet they manage to keep things going.

    I know Debian is all about the Free, but it seems odd that paying a couple of people would cause problems with volunteers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by abradsn (542213)
      Welcome to the land of software development idiocy.

      This is where you have a bunch of people on one side of the fence yelling that there is perfectly viable bussiness reasons to adopt open source... and on the other side of the fence you have even more people that wouldn't pay for surgery that could save their own life. (Since practically no one pays for anything open source, no one really makes much money from it.)

      Then you get people that start out with open source projects, and then turn the project
  • by mpapet (761907) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @03:09PM (#17316602) Homepage
    This email from October 26 is pretty darn informative when it comes to dunc-tank. http://lists.debian.org/debian-project/2006/10/msg 00260.html [debian.org]

    This email from November 16 will pretty much bring everyone up to date on Etch status: http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-announce/2006 /11/msg00004.html [debian.org]
    Since its publication, Etch has gone into bug-fixing only.

    Nice little bonus for debian users on the end if you read it all the way through.

    Please, please /.ers just go straight to http://www.debian.org/News/weekly/ [debian.org] and get the news. I certainly wish the editors at /. would.
  • ... if you're working on an open source project for "fun", being pestered around by a release manager to hurry up might not be as "fun". Most open source developers probably have a day job that's got enough deadlines to meet and managers to please -- so joining an open source project gives some fresh air, not being told what to do and being able to run your own show.

    Bringing in managers, paying them, getting people on your back telling you what to do and when to do it, when you were doing this as a "hobby

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @03:22PM (#17316786) Journal
    OMG! wait till M$ hears this. All they have to do is to donate some 1000$ to a few developers in each Open Source to project, and all other devlopers will quit because they are jelaous and these few will retire happily using those 1000$ or 2000$ handout. All Open Source projects will grind to a halt! Wow! That is Steve Ballmer's dream. He might actually sit on a chair or two now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by LordSnooty (853791)
      Nah, no-one in the Linux community would ever take the Microsoft shilling... oh, wait...
  • Did they at least get a Nexus Crystal?
  • The release managers are not worth 6000 times more than the developers.

    Why should the release managers be surprised? Afterall, they were paid money to improve their own work ethic. Are the developers, who are arguably doing more *actual* work, not worth as much as the release managers, or held to a higher standard than the release managers?

    If they can't find developers to replace those who have reduced their contributions, and the lack of development contributions is the primary cause of the delay, then ver
  • WIR (Score:5, Informative)

    by Digana (1018720) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @03:58PM (#17317322)

    Debian ships When It's Ready.

    But for those of us who are holding our breath for release time, a good and rough indicator of when it will ship is the number of release critical bugs [debian.org]. When the number hits zero, Debian is (almost?) ready. Since the etch freeze was announced about a week ago [debian.org], the number of release bugs has wavered around 130, with a slight downward trend. This is the stock market of the free software world. :-) The etch freeze means that no packages can move down from unstable (sid) to the current testing (etch) automatically anymore (normally, packages in unstable are automatically moved down to testing by a script if no bugs are filed against them for some time, several days, iirc). Packages can still be moved from unstable to testing, but only manually if it's clear that they are stable enough for the next release.

    The dunk-tank drama in the Debian mailing lists [debian.org] is old news. Yes, some developers expressed concerns about the dunc-tank project [dunc-tank.org], but I would hardly call this "frozen development". Developers are working hard to get the Debian release. I estimate January or February at the latest will be beer and pizza party time for all the Debian developers that have produced the largest binary free GNU/Linux distribution amongst which so many other distros depend [ubuntulinux.com].

    Personally, I'm very excited. I'm not sure how much truth there is in this, but Ubuntu has probably put pressure in Debian to more timely releases, and this release will be much more in time than the previous sarge release was. I've been given permission to install Debian in 20 workstations of our local network, and I'm waiting for the stable release and the renowned Debian quality and security to do so. I'll probably be tracking the next testing release after I install them, though, since testing works well for desktop use and workstations.

  • Gross Exaggeration (Score:3, Informative)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @06:31PM (#17319586) Homepage
    > Many unpaid developers simply put off Debian work to work on something else.

    This is a gross exaggeration.

    > ...development is currently frozen.

    This is false. Etch (Testing) is frozen in that packages are no longer automatically moving into it from Sid (Unstable) but this is a normal part of the release cycle: it happens just before a release. Development continues apace in Sid.

  • Money and OSS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by m.dillon (147925) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @07:03PM (#17319904) Homepage
    Money tends to throw a wrench into the works of an OSS project. I have seen it happen time and time again. GPL or BSD, it doesn't matter. At first people think its great, then something happens and the money is no longer there and, poof, suddenly the project is no longer able to support itself because people had become dependant on the cash flow. Or the core group decides to commercialize it (how many dozens of projects has that happened with? So many...) and work simply stops on the OSS version of the project, or people start arguing over where the money should go and who controls it, or it gets commecialized and the company then goes bust, or numerous other things.

    Having source code available is no guarentee of continuance. What matters is who is doing the actual work. I don't recall a single instance where a previously uninvolved third party has ever been able to successfully fork a large open source project after the original authors broke up or went commercial. Forking comes from within... it almost has to for it to have any chance of succeeding.

    For Debian this means that the resolution to the problem must also come from within. Either elements within the existing core group must fork the project, or they must work to resolve the mess the money has caused and become a cohesive entity again. No third party is going to bail them out.

    Matthew Dillon

    -Matt
  • by Respect_my_Authority (967217) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @07:32AM (#17323678)

    IMO, this is a bad article. It's full of misinformation and factual errors, and it paints a very inaccurate picture of the current state of Debian.

    From the article:

    Debian has a long history of being late, ever since its first version in 1997. This is one of the reasons why entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth launched alternative Linux distribution Ubuntu two years ago.

    The date of Debian's first release given in this article is only one of the many factual errors that it contains. The Wikipedia article on Debian ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debian [wikipedia.org] ) tells that "The Debian distribution was first announced on August 16, 1993 by Ian Murdock" and "The Debian Project grew slowly at first and released its first 0.9x versions in 1994 and 1995." Debian version 1.1 was released in June 1996, version 1.2 in December 1996, and version 1.3 in June 1997.

    Of course, the article also fails to mention that the Ubuntu distribution is based on Debian and Ubuntu's each new release relies heavily on the work that is constantly being done in Debian, and the article also fails to tell that Ubuntu takes most of the code it releases from Debian's development branch.

    http://mako.cc/writing/to_fork_or_not_to_fork.html [mako.cc]

    From the article:

    The upcoming release of Debian is being delayed because of a slowdown by key developers.

    Actually, there's no factual evidence at all that the delay in Debian's release schedule is caused by developers doing their work slower than usual. It is not easy to grasp how large and complex the Debian project has grown and many journalists also obviously fail to understand the not-for-profit and volunteer nature of the work that is done in Debian. The huge size of the project and the volunteer nature of its work are sufficient reasons alone to explain why the release has been delayed for a month or two. Such delays can happen for purely organizational reasons even if every developer is working as hard as they can.

    Debian is a non-profit volunteer organization where all the important decisions are made democratically. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy [wikipedia.org] ) This means that all important issues in the project management are openly discussed over a period of time and every developer has a chance to get their voice heard. From time to time there are disagreements among the developers and these disagreements are settled by voting where the opinion of the majority wins.

    There was recently some disagreement among the Debian Developers about the experimental idea to fund two release managers' full-time work for a short period of time just before the upcoming Debian release. The Debian Developers voted about this issue and the majority of them decided to support the experiment. ( http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-announce/2006 /10/msg00019.html [debian.org] ) Most of the developers accepted this result but 17 of them have been protesting even after the results of the voting were published. It is perhaps worth mentioning here that Debian has over one thousand officially accepted developers and many more who contribute to the project without having the official developer status. 17 developers out of 1000 is a small minority but they can still make a lot of noise. Those other developers concentrate on coding instead of public arguing, so it is only too easy for the scandal-hungry journalists to ignore all these hard-working silent developers and concentrate on the loud complainers.

    http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-announce/2006 /10/msg00026.html [debian.org]

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