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Ian Murdock: Debian "Missing a Big Opportunity" 330

Posted by Hemos
from the tsk-tsk-tsk dept.
Natester writes "While Debian struggles to get its next release (Etch) out the door, the project's founder, Ian Murdock, has spoken out about politics, the lack of firm leadership, and Ubuntu's meteoric rise in prominence. Murdock believes that Debian is "process run amok" — nobody feels empowered to make decisions, leading to the sluggish rate of progress."
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Ian Murdock: Debian "Missing a Big Opportunity"

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  • by timecop (16217) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:16PM (#18402415) Homepage
    For more info see here
    http://sam2007.zoy.org/ [zoy.org]
    Believe it!
  • Firm Leadership (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Seumas (6865) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:18PM (#18402439)
    Sometimes you need firm leadership to make decisions rather than stagnate by trying to please everyone all the time and doing nothing.
  • Re:Debian is dead (Score:5, Insightful)

    by teh_chrizzle (963897) <`gro.notibboh' `ta' `9-llik'> on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:28PM (#18402575) Homepage

    Why would anyone even bother installing "true" Debian at this point?

    the debian that can be installed in 40 minutes is not the true debian.

    i used to have a debian Tshirt that said "it's what your mom would use if it was 20 times eaiser."

    i think that the debian group will always be needed to do the heavy lifting and the ubuntus of the world will add specifictiy and compatibility.

  • IDNRTA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by crhylove (205956) <rhy@leperkhanz.com> on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:30PM (#18402607) Homepage Journal
    I did not read the article, but here's my two cents:

    Ubuntu is trying to be a Windows killer. And it could be. Wine is "good enough" with the right settings for 90% of what most people want to do coming from a Windows world. Drivers exist. No, they're not FOSS, and I understand why people want FOSS ones, but....

    Why doesn't Ubuntu seal the deal?

    With beryl, good drivers, and built in FOSS apps that beat MS at every turn (Firefox > IE, Beryl > Aero, Thunderbird > Outlook, and VLC > WMP), it seems like the win would be fast and clear. Nobody wants Vista, especially when you have to pay. Ubuntu comes preconfigured in a way that is over all superior to every Windows that has ever existed. It's more solid and reliable, it has four desktops (though they moronically all have the same wallpaper by default, and it happens to be shit brown), it has a very nice user interface (though *i* and many others feel it could take some design cues from Windows 98 with regards to menu structure and some other minor details), and it's free. Oh yeah, and it's open source, so anybody who doesn't like part of it can fix it themselves.

    But nobody has. It's like people take pride in allowing the world of uneducated masses sucking on the corporate tit of MS. I just don't understand it.

    Feisty could win the OS wars decisively, but given the over all FOSS community attitude towards ordinary people....

    Damn, gotta catch my plane.....

    Sad?

    rhY
  • by maynard (3337) <j.maynard.gelinas@gmail. c o m> on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:34PM (#18402657) Journal
    I don't have time to worry about internal Debian politics. Perhaps it is a clusterfuck. Beats me. But Debian Stable (Woody) may run old software, may lack some desirable features, and may not have the latest Gnome interface... but so what. It is stable. I have a cluster of machines running Stable that serve AFS to hundreds of clients. With those machines, my problems are almost all hardware related.

    That's all I care about. Is it stable? Yes. Is it secure? Yes. Does it perform a function I need? Yes. Then deploy.
  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:34PM (#18402661) Homepage
    That's seen as an advantage to some. Fedora likes to ride the bleeding edge, but there's a lot more bugs because of this. Debian stable is called that for a reason. A lot less patches, and a lot less bugs. As a desktop user I can see the desire to run a more up-to-date OS, but if you're running servers I would probably opt for a more stable distro over having all the latest toys.
  • by boogahboogah (310475) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:39PM (#18402735)
    If you're looking for the latest drivers/kernel tweaks, it seems like Debian is perpetually behind. Every so often I try installing it (and Ubuntu/Kubuntu also), but with any new hardware it breaks and I end up re-installing SuSE again. Not that SuSE is perfect but at least it works with my hardware better than Debian/Ubuntu/Kubuntu.
  • Re:Debian is dead (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Seumas (6865) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:41PM (#18402763)
    Uh. What debian can't be installed in forty minutes? My last debian install was as a backup to my production server and I certainly spent less than an hour doing it. Most of that time was spent downloading (I was using a net-install). The actual time I physically spent at the machine installation was under a half hour.

    Ubuntu is pretty sweet for the desktop, but there's too much desktop-y stuff involved in it. Without doing some research, I wouldn't even know how to do an Ubuntu install completely free from any window manager whatsoever. With Debian, however, there's nothing I don't want installed by default. I only have to deal with a GUI if I want to. And since I don't want to, installing my window manager is as simple as "apt-get install screen". Done. Hurrah!

    Anyway, the whole idea that Debian is somehow this painfully difficult distro is just absurd and I don't know why people buy into that. It might be more difficult than normal to get a fully operational desktop and window manager with all the trimming going than something like Ubuntu where it's all pretty much built into the installer by default, but in every other aspect, you can't get much easier and straightforward than debian. I've been using it since about 1999 and I keep playing with other distros every couple of years to see if I can be swayed away (and other than Ubuntu for pure-desktop systems), I don't see any compelling reason to stray from Debian. And even then... only to a Debian-extension like Ubuntu...
  • Re:IDNRTA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:45PM (#18402803) Homepage
    But nobody has. It's like people take pride in allowing the world of uneducated masses sucking on the corporate tit of MS. I just don't understand it.

    Feisty could win the OS wars decisively, but given the over all FOSS community attitude towards ordinary people....


    Um, if this attitude was such an obstacle, then Ubuntu wouldn't exist in the first place. If anything, Ubuntu is proof that there is a significant portion of the FOSS community that wants to bring FOSS to "ordinary people". Sure there are people who don't, and they're running Slackware.

    So given that, I must have completely missed the part where you specified what it is that is preventing Ubuntu from winning the OS wars decisively. You say it's comes preconfigured in a way superior to Windows. Personally I think Ubuntu, and Linux in general, has a ways to go before it's really an "ordinary people" as in "Windows replacement for everyone" kind of OS. I think they're a long way from winning the OS wars decisively or otherwise. But it is getting there, by leaps and bounds. You seem to think it's even farther along this path than I do, poised and ready to claim victory, so I'm again left wondering what it is you think is holding Ubuntu back.
  • Slowness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:58PM (#18402957) Journal
    The slowness of Debian updates is a feature, not a bug. When you have a server 4,000 miles away from home (where a major OS upgrade can quite easily leave the machine an unbootable lump of metal), having a long time between major releases, and the updates to the current release being rock solid - it's a BIG feature. It's why I run Debian on those servers - because it's a lot less stressful than running a faster moving distribution.

    On a point of pedantry, also you cannot have a meteoric rise. Meteors fall!
  • Re:IDNRTA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bright Apollo (988736) on Monday March 19, 2007 @01:02PM (#18402993) Journal
    I'll explain it to you.

    Thunderbird Outlook and in some cases, *nothing* = Outlook for calendaring, contact management, etc. When Linux has a drop-in replacement for Outlook that connects to Exchange Servers and can handle PSTs, they'll have the killer app needed to crush Office. Until then, it'll be no sale. Believe me, programmers would probably love to switch but they still need to get email at work from the Exchange Server.

    And no, solutions that require interdiction with Exchange administration do not count. Drop-in replacement is exactly that, just your Windows domain username and password.

    -BA

  • Re:It's sad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by k8to (9046) on Monday March 19, 2007 @01:03PM (#18403017) Homepage
    Sure, the response is dumb. But the response should not be _surprising_ when you realize that it was done in a back-room-deal fashion and brought to the greater community fait accompli. It's supposed to be a community project and doing things (sun java include, dunc tank) out of sight weakens that sensibility, which engenders ill will.

    That people could have expressed their views and then moved on is given. That some people did not is no shock. Dunc tank, while not a bad idea, was poorly executed, and I'm really surprised at how it was done. Essentially I'm ticked off at the dunc tank group for refusing to recognize the problem. They wanted to avoid thrashing and whinging ahead of time, and short circuited it, only to get MORE thrashing and whinging after the fact.

    Social engineering is important, and hard, and by that I mean the "making societies work" engineering, not stealing passwords. Can anyone especially clever in these matters point to research on how to make cooperative distributed projects work?
  • Re:Debian is dead (Score:5, Insightful)

    by diegocgteleline.es (653730) on Monday March 19, 2007 @01:05PM (#18403041)
    the debian that can be installed in 40 minutes is not the true debian.

    Debian was NEVER supposed to be "difficult to use". This is something that has happened with the time - other distros became desktop-oriented and debian kept being power user-oriented.

    It just happened, but that doesn't means that you shouldn't be able to install debian in 20 minutes. From the Debian social contract [debian.org]

    4. Our priorities are our users and free software: We will be guided by the needs of our users and the free software community. We will place their interests first in our priorities. We will support the needs of our users for operation in many different kinds of computing environments.

    Debian users are asking for an easy to install/use, desktop oriented distro. The Debian project is just not providing such thing, so they go and choose other distros that actually listen to them, like ubuntu.
  • Re:Firm Leadership (Score:1, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday March 19, 2007 @01:08PM (#18403069) Homepage Journal

    I thought Open Source was about each of us having it our way instead. Compilation without representation is tyranny!

    It is, and as soon as you roll your own distribution, you can have it your way, too. You can't please everyone. Trying to do so is a sure road to failure. Which is why Debian, under its current charter, has no chance to survive.

  • Re:Firm Leadership (Score:5, Insightful)

    by diegocgteleline.es (653730) on Monday March 19, 2007 @01:10PM (#18403097)
    Open source is about choice, but Debian is about providing a distro that does what most of their users are supposed to want. It's still a tyranny - the tyrany of democracy.
  • Re:Debian is dead (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timrichardson (450256) * on Monday March 19, 2007 @01:14PM (#18403137) Homepage
    Debian had better not be dead because it is the soul of Ubuntu. We have Ubuntu because of the people who spent so many years making Debian, and they did a lot of things right, and they did those things because they believed in the Debian philosophy. Churchill said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. Maybe we have to have a crazy Debian world full of people who really care about releasing versions when they are ready. Besides, it's not as if it's the only operating system with irregular releases that tend to miss deadlines.

    Additionally, I wonder how much cash is being burnt to keep Ubuntu cracking along. Perhaps it is not sustainable? Debian is, I would say. It has proven itself.
  • Re:Debian is dead (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spazmania (174582) on Monday March 19, 2007 @01:19PM (#18403209) Homepage
    Why would I want Debian over Ubuntu? Stability and quality control.

    Ubuntu is to Debian what Fedora is to Red Hat. It moves fast with the best new versions. It has all the bugs in the best new versions and deprecates old interfaces and configurations with that same speed.

    Here's what I want from a server: It should be rock solid with an absolute minimum of bugs. It should run with essentially no attention for several years. Routine security updates should should be prompt and complete but require little or no operator attention. In particular, no routine update should result in an old configuration file becoming incompatible. Barring exceptional circumstances, it should run itself without my attention.

    And when it does finally come time to upgrade to the next major release there should be a minimum negative impact on the server's existing configuration. If a piece of software drops a feature I'm using then it shouldn't automatically upgrade to the next version. Instead, the old version should remain available with security updates for a good long while.

    Debian delivers on this. Ubuntu, as fine a system as it is, does not.

  • by AVee (557523) <slashdot@NOspAM.avee.org> on Monday March 19, 2007 @01:23PM (#18403239) Homepage
    Boot the install CD and choose "Install a LAMP server" at the menu.

    And that's exactly why Debian is better than Ubuntu in most scenarios (although Ubuntu may still be better for most users). Someone is asking how to install Ubuntu without GUI and the answer is to install it with a full webserver stack. Some people have more specific needs than 'Desktop' or 'LAMP server' and in all of these cases Ubuntu has no added value, worse yet, it looses out on lower stability and having to deinstall stuff as a first step right after the installation.

    Apart from that, it's way more fun to actually decide for yourself which packages to use. If i wanted the software to take as much as possible decicions for me I'd be using Microsoft stuff, they are way better at deciding what's good for their customers.
  • Re:It's sad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Toby_Tyke (797359) on Monday March 19, 2007 @01:31PM (#18403343) Journal
    These people are selfish and arrogant. If it was worth it to develop Debian for free before some people started getting paid, then it was still worth it after; nothing changed

    While what you say is true, the problems stemming from paying some developers should have been anticipated. If you and I are both working on a project for free, and the organization running that project decide to pay you but not me, what they are essentially saying is "tyke, you're contribution is not as important as drinkypoo's". That is a slap in the face, especially if I think my contribution is as important as yours. True, I haven't lost anything, but you can't overlook the de-motivational impact of rewarding some people but not others.
  • Re:It's sad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bjourne (1034822) on Monday March 19, 2007 @01:31PM (#18403345) Homepage Journal
    The only important part of the story is that some big-egos felt that they deserved monetary recognition more than people who were receiving it, so they got upset.

    Maybe they did? If some of my colleagues where I work got a big payraise and I did not, despite me performing just as well or maybe even better than them, of course I am going to be immature and petulant. Such are the traits of humanity and I am sure most other would feel the same way. Every manager at every company could tell you that. Money really is the root of all evil. And with an unequal distribution of it only compounds the problem.
  • Re:It's sad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday March 19, 2007 @01:35PM (#18403403) Homepage Journal

    I'm afraid I'm 'immature' then.

    Most of us are. It's how you handle your immaturity that defines you. When you can be held accountable for your thoughts, we're ALL going to the chair.

    If I was helping create a distro, and nobody was being paid... Then only a few people got money for doing exactly the same thing as before, exactly the same thing as I'm doing... I'd be upset, then disgusted, then I'd probably quit.

    As long as you admit that your reaction isn't about them, but about you, then at least you're not lying to yourself.

    (I wouldn't be so immature as to remain and hold back the project, though.)

    So then you're well ahead of several individuals involved with the Debian project.

    Then I'd either find something else to do with my life, find another distro to help, or make my own.

    But why? Just because you feel like you're more deserving of the money than someone else?

    It's disingenuous to say that you feel that you're equally deserving, because there is only so much money to go around, and you can't all get paid.

    Yes, there's ego involved... Everyone on a 'team' wants to feel like their at least equal to everyone else.

    Yes, and we all want cake and ice cream on sundays, but we don't all get it, do we?

    (Yes I realize that we don't all want cake and ice cream on sundays. But I'm making a point.)

    We're quite simply not all equally important to a project. That's just the way it goes. Some people are critical, and losing them (or not having their work) would set the project (any project) back considerably. Some people you could lose and it would barely slow things down.

    With some people being paid and others not, it draws a very clear 'you're not as valuable' line.

    Yes, this is a drawback of complete transparency. People can get butt-hurt about things which are really none of their business.

    This is exactly the reason that many businesses make it a fire-able offense to discuss wages with other employees. And I whole-heartedly agree with that policy.

    Businesses do this for two reasons. One is that people are making money they have no business making. Sometimes it's because they are near and dear to someone who can decide if they can make money; this might be because they're friends, or because they suck a mean dick under their boss' desk, or what have you. But it could also be that the person making the additional money is crucial to the business. In the former case it is better for the company if it is discovered and dealt with. In the latter case, it harms the business. So it seems that transparency cuts both ways...

  • Re:It's sad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday March 19, 2007 @01:44PM (#18403535) Homepage Journal

    While what you say is true, the problems stemming from paying some developers should have been anticipated.

    I think it was anticipated. I don't think the full fury of their immature response was, however. I don't think they believed that people would put their effort into making a project succeed, then turn around and put it into making it fail by deliberately holding it back.

    I think that while their contributions may be highly valuable and are in any case appreciated, the people who would do such things should be removed from the project. Their actions prove that they are interested more in their own reputation than in actually making the project succeed. If their efforts in some other place can assist the project, then so be it, but I think that keeping them around where they can enjoy further self-aggrandizement is only rewarding bad behavior, which encourages more bad behavior. When my little parrot squawks at me over and over again, fit to burst my eardrums (what bird experts typically refer to as "inappropriate vocalization") I don't yell at her; that just gives her attention. I cover her cage with a sheet, and wait for her to calm down. Perhaps the same response is appropriate in this situation.

    I'd say that our continuous tendency to reward bad behavior is the biggest problem in the world today.

    If you and I are both working on a project for free, and the organization running that project decide to pay you but not me, what they are essentially saying is "tyke, you're contribution is not as important as drinkypoo's". That is a slap in the face, especially if I think my contribution is as important as yours. True, I haven't lost anything, but you can't overlook the de-motivational impact of rewarding some people but not others.

    It IS saying that. In so many words! And as a contributor to the Debian project, these people have to decide what is more important; their own ego, or the Debian project. If they feel the former is true, then rather than deliberately holding Debian back, they need to go somewhere where they will receive the appreciation they feel they so richly deserve. Because there should never be room for someone whose ego is larger than the project.

    Because let's face it, I might HAVE a greater contribution to make than you do, and there is only so much money to be shared. So I might get that money, and you might not. My contribution might BE more valuable than yours is. Does that mean yours is not valuable? Of course not. Does it mean that YOU are not valuable? By the same logic, it cannot mean that. It can only mean that I am more critical to the project than you are, and thus it is worth it to pay me to be sure of retaining me. In this world we all have to accept that we are not at the pinnacle of every scale, not least because many are contradictory. Even if I were the most badass programmer to ever have lived (which I clearly am not, but bear with me) I would probably not be the best person on the planet. There's only so much of each of us to go around, if you are spread thin then you never reach much of a height in any category.

    It sounds to me like some of these people are good programmers, but not very good people.

  • Re:It's sad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NoWhereMan (3539) on Monday March 19, 2007 @01:51PM (#18403621) Homepage Journal
    Debian should never hold face-to-face meetings, something bad always happens

    The lack of social skills is a really sad aspect in our community. I suspect it is at the root of your comment. Some geeks take a long time to mature (and some never do ;-). You had your shot as DPL, and the recent voting for SPI director suggests there is still room for improvement. Claiming that we should never meet seems defeatist to me. Meeting together and working on our social skills looks like a better choice to me. If we start out by recognizing we need to practice our social skills, we can improve.

    Times have changed. The old joke about no one on the internet knowing you are a dog still applies. But our respect is still based upon skills and knowledge. We just need to augment our view of what a person accomplishes to contain a social aspect too. The process may not be pain free. If we must deal with expulsion requests [debian.org] or a myriad of flamefests, then so be it. The Debian core values remain intact. We need to learn how to scale to larger numbers without diluting them.

  • Re:It's sad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Raenex (947668) on Monday March 19, 2007 @01:55PM (#18403663)
    Debian's whole reason for coming into existence was to create a distribution by volunteers collaborating over the internet. Introducing paid employees into that equation was just a really bad idea.
  • Re:Firm Leadership (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iabervon (1971) on Monday March 19, 2007 @01:58PM (#18403713) Homepage Journal
    If we all wanted it our own way, we wouldn't need Open Source. We'd just write all of our software ourselves. Really, everybody wants to tweak a couple of things slightly, and leave the vast majority of everything entirely unchanged. The point of Open Source is that we can make just a couple of slight modifications, and we don't need to start from scratch. But this, then, relies on there being software that is close to solving our problems.

    It's the bikeshed problem: everybody agrees that we want a bikeshed, and that it needs to be painted to keep from rotting, and nobody has a particular color it has to be, but nobody feels empowered to go out and buy paint, in case somebody turns out to be deeply offended by the color choice. Someone needs to take the initiative and pick something, and if anyone turns out to care, they can repaint it later.
  • Re:Debian is dead (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mbrod (19122) on Monday March 19, 2007 @02:12PM (#18403901) Homepage Journal

    As much as I like Debian, I must admit you're right: Ubuntu seems to be what Debian should have become.
    It is best to keep Debian the way it is and then have Ubuntu the way it is. They will both evolve but I don't want to see Debian become Ubuntu. I only run Ubuntu now but having that stable Debian release for the servers that just need to be stable above all else is the rock in the foundation everything else great about both systems is built upon.
  • Re:IDNRTA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zonk (troll) (1026140) on Monday March 19, 2007 @02:21PM (#18403989)

    Thunderbird Outlook and in some cases, *nothing*
    I agree that Thunderbird+Lightning doesn't even come near Outlook. The people who keep claiming it have obviously never used Outlook.

    Outlook for calendaring, contact management, etc.
    Evolution. Though, they really need to fix it's pathetic IMAP support (crashes fairly regularly while using IMAP, POP3 support is solid). It's been my client for over three years now. Mainly I connect to a few POP3 servers and the Scalix server at work.

    When Linux has a drop-in replacement for Outlook that connects to Exchange Servers and can handle PSTs, they'll have the killer app needed to crush Office.
    Sure. That will happen the same day that OpenOffice supports MS Office formats 100%. That is, never. Exchange and the MS Office files are proprietary. The best you can hope for is for it to mostly work, and expect a "security" patch to break any new compatibility.

    What everyone should do is dump Exchange. Scalix does an good job, has an excellent web client, is affordable, and integrates perfectly with Outlook and Evolution (with a plugin for both).
  • Ditch Stable (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fozzmeister (160968) on Monday March 19, 2007 @02:22PM (#18404001) Homepage
    They should ditch stable, testing should be given more direct-oversight. Stable is always released way out of date, and all the news is just how out-of-date Debian is. Let organisations that can make decisions take testing and "stabalize" it.
  • Re:Debian is dead (Score:3, Insightful)

    by diegocgteleline.es (653730) on Monday March 19, 2007 @02:27PM (#18404091)
    Do I not count?

    Not more than any other average Debian user.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 19, 2007 @02:38PM (#18404233)
    The "wreck McNeally created" went from startup to $18 billion on his watch -- and yeah, back down to $13 billion. As soon as you get that $13 billion company of your own going, I think you're safe to criticize McNealy for his failings. Heck, check in at two billion and we'll give you a listen.

    He also correctly identified Microsoft as Sun's up-and-coming competitor years before anyone else got it, and then correctly identified that the level of anti-MSFT rhetoric was causing major problems and cleaned that up, netting Sun a nice $2B in the process. Maybe slow to get on the x86 bandwagon, but he got there, bringing back one of the industry's best system designers in the process. He groomed two successors, one of whom now seems to be the real deal, but in many cases is getting credit for a lot of things McNealy had already set in motion. (And the other one is off perhaps tanking another company -- maybe this is where the "wreckage" came from?)

    Sun *is* "selling like it once did." It's the 3rd largest server vendor in the industry. It's the 5th largest x86 server vendor in the industry -- again, something McNealy set in motion.

    There's a lot of things he did wrong, but there's a lot more he did right. Sun went from an engineering workstation company to the third company regularly mentioned in the same breath as HP and IBM, two much older and more well-established companies.

    This is coming off like a gush about McNealy and Sun, but really, consider it more a rant against calling something a "wreck" when you have no idea what you're talking about. Get picked for the board at GE, then you get to talk about someone else being a "wreck."
  • Re:Firm Leadership (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Monday March 19, 2007 @02:40PM (#18404253) Homepage

    The direction I'm interested in is a mainstream linux that I can deploy on joe sixpack's computer.

    That niche is well supplied by Ubuntu. If you think the space needs competition to keep things fresh, it has it: Linspire and Mandriva.

    Debian *doesn't* need to target that niche at all. The existing policy of slow, steady progress and periodic rock-solid server releases produces a distro that's an excellent basis for projects ranging from Ubuntu to Embedded Debian to build from. There are occasionally cases where Debian is a bit slower than it should be (multiarch for example), but that doesn't mean that what Debian is should be thrown away to make an Ubuntu replica.

  • by Vireo (190514) on Monday March 19, 2007 @02:42PM (#18404289)
    Personally I found that Debian's problem is that by the time they've gotten a new release out the door, it is already hideously out of date.

    I never understood this argument. I don't consider myself an expert in the various Linux distributions, especially not Debian. However, I settled on Debian for the exact opposite reason. I wanted, for my home computer, a bleeding-edge system that I wouldn't have to re-install ever because a "newer version" was released.

    So I switched to Debian unstable, got packages almost as fast as in Gentoo and other bleeding-edge distros, and since then, never bothered re-installing anything from scratch. I just let my system evolve. Sometime this leads to broken bits, but I don't mind much, fixes are generally released fast enough for my tastes.

    So... if you want a rock-solid server OS, get Debian stable. If you want a bleeding-edge, configurable OS, get Debian unstable, and you have testing inbetween for a more mainstream-type distro. I'm not saying that everybody should use Debian only (I myself use other distros quite often) -- just that the "out of date" argument is really getting old.
  • Dazed & Confused (Score:4, Insightful)

    by asphaltjesus (978804) on Monday March 19, 2007 @03:09PM (#18404607)
    The immaturity posed by this comment being modded insightful is just sad.

    While the sheer number of packages in the Debian repository is awesome, you are confusing _choices_ with a lack of focus. Debian's NOT pleasing everyone. They can't.

    There will be many out there probably like you who are reassured with a self-contained environment that a Ubuntu provides. They have x number of apps configured a specific way that works okay in many situations but is really poor if more or something different is required.

    In my business, I need to have log reports formatted a specific way. Well, there just so happens the log analysis package I use is in ubuntu's "universe." e.g. should work, but it's not an official distro package. Good news, it's quite well supported in debian's main package repo.

    This is why ubuntu is kind of like AOL way back in the day or Microsoft server apps for good system administrators. Once you figure it out, you realize the limitations and move on.

    When you are ready, Debian's there. Still Free.
  • Re:IDNRTA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by apathy maybe (922212) on Monday March 19, 2007 @03:16PM (#18404693) Homepage Journal
    How the fuck do you get off saying this?

    >2. Make sure that you point out that learning linux isn't as easy as windows. Really. Do it. Please.

    One, have you ever sat two people who have never used a computer before (or never since "good" old DOS days anyway) and tried to teach them whichever MS Windows and GNOME & KDE on GNU/Linux? No? Why do you make such stupid comments then?

    Honestly, the inconsistencies in Windows means that it is harder to learn to use then GNOME. Sure, for people who have only ever had experience with Windows, GNOME (and MacOS come to think of it, speaking from personal experience of helping people here) isn't that easy to use. But it is, once you are used to it.

    Oh, and talking of copy and paste, the only problem I have (and it isn't that big a deal) is that you have to keep the window open that you want to copy from. I don't think you have to do that in KDE, but other things make GNOME more preferable for me.
  • Re:Firm Leadership (Score:5, Insightful)

    by a.d.trick (894813) on Monday March 19, 2007 @03:29PM (#18404853) Homepage
    It still has a place as a meta-distribution. Gentoo has been fairly successful on that model.
  • Re:Firm Leadership (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hey! (33014) on Monday March 19, 2007 @03:43PM (#18405037) Homepage Journal
    I think we have to be careful about drawing analogies and using terms national politics when we talk about group dynamics. We shouldn't let our justifiable aversion to political dictatorship poison our attitude towards the idea of strong leadership, which is a completely different thing.

    What we call "benevolent dictatorship" in a group like this means decisive leadership with power make its decisions stick within the confines of the project. This is a very different thing than a political dictatorship (benevolent or otherwise), because in national politics there are no practical limits to which the power of a dictator is confined.

    Philosophically, strong leadership within a voluntary project is consistent with the status of an individual contributor as a rational being. The contributor has the practical option of "voting with his feet", by jumping to a different project. A wise leader who relies upon voluntary contributors keeps the best of them happier contributing than leaving. A true dictatorship is inconsistent with the status of an individual citizen as a rational being, because a citizen cannot vote with his feet. The dictator can choose to make any trivial dissent a matter of life and death, and choose in a completely arbitrary way.

    I once heard Prince Bandar claim that absolute monarchy wasn't really different than democracy, only in a monarchy people "vote out" the government by taking to the streets. While this might be wise for abolute monarchs to bear in mind, it conveniently ignores the fact that the subject of a true monarchy must be willing to risk everthing, his life, the life of his friends and family, in order to act in accordance with his reason or conscience. It sidesteps the question of whether it is necessary or beneficial to make the exercise of individual reason a life or death decision.

    In the Debian case, anybody unsatisfied with Debian can join a different Linux distro project. Not only that, they can walk away still in posession of their entire body of contribution, as well as the entire contribution of everybody else. The only things the can't take with them is the community (they'd have to build their own or convince others to move with them) and the name.

    The irony here is that the apparent anarchy of the free software paradigm makes it possible to exercise extremely decisive leadership with little or no ethical risk. There is nothing a free software leader can do to a contributor, other than refuse to take his contributions.

    The utter inability of a project leader to inflict meaningful harm on a contributor makes elaborate safeguards for the dignity of the individual redundant. That respect is built into the software development paradigm, not the organization.

    It's very important not to confuse strong leadership with dictatorship. Leadership is securing the voluntary cooperation of individuals, sometimes to a course of action that the individual does not favor. While leadership might be useful in a dictatorship, the key job skill for a dictator is the infliction of fear.
  • Different markets (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zCyl (14362) on Monday March 19, 2007 @03:49PM (#18405115)

    The slowness of Debian updates is a feature, not a bug. ... It's why I run Debian on those servers - because it's a lot less stressful than running a faster moving distribution.

    Definitely. I've been using Debian for over a decade, but what I'm seeing now is that Debian and Ubuntu are cooperatively focusing on two different markets. They aren't really duplicating effort, because they seem to be sharing packages and patches back and forth, and even users can setup hybrid systems if desired. But what they are doing is aiming for two different things.

    For the moment, Debian seems to be producing a more stable distribution with server packages kept up-to-date and good attention to security fixes. Ubuntu seems to be producing a more user friendly distribution with simpler installation, ease of use, and more up-to-date desktop packages.

    I see this as being beneficial so far. Any software developed for one of them can be ported to the other, and so having two separate organizations developing two different lines for two different purposes can make progress and quality better on the whole.
  • by MS-06FZ (832329) on Monday March 19, 2007 @04:25PM (#18405611) Homepage Journal
    Hardly surprises me that every few years, a group so rigorously dedicated to a set of strongly defined principles would suffer a period of amok time. It's simply logical.
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday March 19, 2007 @04:46PM (#18405881) Homepage Journal

    While the sheer number of packages in the Debian repository is awesome, you are confusing _choices_ with a lack of focus. Debian's NOT pleasing everyone. They can't.

    I believe I just said that.

    There will be many out there probably like you who are reassured with a self-contained environment that a Ubuntu provides. They have x number of apps configured a specific way that works okay in many situations but is really poor if more or something different is required.

    I don't think you're paying adequate attention to what I actually said. I didn't say debian will fail because it doesn't provide the latest, greatest packages. I'm saying Debian will fail because it will get mired down trying to be democratic. Frankly, I don't think democracies work very well, but then, I don't think any bureaucracy works very well.

    Also, I don't think you understand Ubuntu. If I need a package that isn't available on my system, I can install an [old, outdated] debian package if I want to. By the same token, if you need something newer that isn't available on your system, you can install an Ubuntu package. Of course, there may be many dependencies that make that unworkable, but in general the tactic is available.

    In my business, I need to have log reports formatted a specific way. Well, there just so happens the log analysis package I use is in ubuntu's "universe." e.g. should work, but it's not an official distro package. Good news, it's quite well supported in debian's main package repo.

    What do you mean by "supported"? You mean you can file a bug report? Pardon me if I am not excited. There are bug reports against debian packages that are years old and remain unfixed. Literally.

    This is why ubuntu is kind of like AOL way back in the day or Microsoft server apps for good system administrators. Once you figure it out, you realize the limitations and move on.

    I wouldn't use it for a server, but then, I never said I would. Ubuntu is the desktop Debian in my world. Debian is the server debian.

    When you are ready, Debian's there. Still Free.

    And still well behind, which matters far less on a server than on a desktop system. Which is why Debian is a joke as a desktop system (in order to achieve any kind of modernity you have to run unstable packages anyway) but just fine for a server. Maybe even better than using the latest and greatest.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 19, 2007 @05:43PM (#18406639)
    But they don't! Woody security support ended in June 2006 as planned (1 year after the new distribution is released).
  • Re:It's sad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrJimbo (594231) on Monday March 19, 2007 @05:53PM (#18406753)
    NoWhereMan said:

    Claiming that we should never meet seems defeatist to me. Meeting together and working on our social skills looks like a better choice to me. If we start out by recognizing we need to practice our social skills, we can improve.
    I very much disagree with the premise behind these statements. You seem to be ignoring the very existence of Asperger's Syndrome. From The Geek Syndrome [thegeeksyndrome.com]:

    Asperger's Syndrome is another term for high-functioning autism. Individuals with Aspergers (also known as "aspies") exhibit a different way of socialising. The main traits of Aspergers are obessive interests, extremely logical and literal thinking, visual/spatial thinking, difficulties with friendships and relationships.

    Asperger's syndrome and autism are not a mental illness or disease. The brain is wired differently, and it is a neurological difference rather than an abnormality. Advantages can be the ability to focus strongly on interests, such as computing, being an individual and not following the herd. Having unique thinking patterns that are unusual and creative.
    Since people are already comfortable working together via email, if you add an extra requirement for face-to-face meetings you are adding an extra hurdle that may trip some folks up, especially if your intent is to improve their social skills. It would be like adding a math or programming requirement to the job of a salesperson in order to improve his or her math skills. You would lose a lot of good salespeople that way. I am reminded of the Heinlein quote about teaching pigs to sing, it frustrates you and annoys the pig.

    It is not sad that Asperger's is so prevalent in our community. But it is sad when its negative aspects are treated as if they were merely the result of lack of effort.

  • Re:It's sad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NoWhereMan (3539) on Monday March 19, 2007 @07:08PM (#18407697) Homepage Journal
    I very much disagree with the premise behind these statements. You seem to be ignoring the very existence of Asperger's Syndrome.

    Although I have not officially been diagnosed as having Asperger's Syndrome, I can assure you I am well aware of it.

    It is not sad that Asperger's is so prevalent in our community.

    I never said it was sad that it is so prevalent. I said the lack of social skills is sad. You are free to disagree, but I doubt you understood my premise. Perhaps you assume Asperger's == lack of social skills. But I propose that symptom != cause. And you also fail to notice that I never said to "add an extra requirement for face-to-face meetings" for DDs. My intent is to improve social skills, but there are many ways to accomplish it. Different people may use different methods. I think recognizing the problem is a first step. As a project, we are looking for ways to deal with it.

  • Re:It's sad (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @12:23AM (#18410495)

    This is exactly the reason that many businesses make it a fire-able offense to discuss wages with other employees. And I whole-heartedly agree with that policy.


    Let's try a little reductio ad absurdum here. Assume you never discuss wages with other employees, in your business, or in other businesses. Assume everyone else did the same. This leaves individuals with no knowledge of market wages for their profession, and gives the business complete power in arbitrary salary decisions and discrimination. What if you really are worth more than the business is paying you? Wouldn't you like to know that, so you can negotiate or find another job?

    This of course requires some level of professional maturity; employees must be able to objectively and impassively evaluate their business worth relative to others, and not get whiny upon discovering that someone else is earning more. Employees have to be able to take a hard look in the mirror and ask, "why does the business perceive my value as less than that other guy's value?"

    But a don't ask, don't tell policy about wages is not the solution. It makes you a slave to your corporate masters, which is of course exactly where the corporations want you. The democratic solution is mature, professional discussion among peers.

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