Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Ian Murdock: Debian "Missing a Big Opportunity" 330

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ian Murdock: Debian "Missing a Big Opportunity"

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:19PM (#18402447)
    Hi all,

    It's being announced today that I'm joining Sun as chief operating
    platforms officer, which basically means I'll be in charge of Sun's
    operating system strategy, spanning Solaris and Linux. I just posted the
    announcement on my blog (,
    and it'll likely be making the rounds soon. Just wanted to
    make sure you heard the news directly from me and to introduce myself.

    First things first: I'm a long time Linux user, developer, and advocate.
    I founded Debian in 1993, co-founded a Linux distribution company called
    Progeny in 1999, and most recently served as CTO of the new Linux
    Foundation, where I was (and still am) chair of the LSB, the Linux
    platform interoperability standard. I'm also a long time Sun fan.

    As for what I'll be doing: While I'm coming in with some fairly formed
    opinions about what Sun/Solaris/OpenSolaris ought to do (peruse my
    blog a bit to learn more), I'm also a big believer in listening
    before talking, and I have a lot of listening to do in the weeks
    to come. So, please, feel free to drop me a line if you have
    anything to tell me. And, please, be gentle while I get settled. :-)

    Gotta get on a call in a few minutes. In the meantime, I just wanted
    to say hello, and to make sure you heard the news directly from me.


    Ian Murdock []
  • Re:Debian is dead (Score:3, Informative)

    by d^2b ( 34992 ) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:42PM (#18402779) Homepage
    Well, sometimes the Ubuntu installer does not work. That is how I ended up reverting to plain debian on my wife's core2 duo machine after a few days of struggling with the Ubuntu installer. No doubt someone else has had the opposite experience.

    Truth to tell, I don't really notice that much difference between running Debian testing and Ubuntu. At least no-one at my house is longing for the days when we ran Ubuntu.

    So I am curious, what fabulous things am I missing? Or maybe the fact I am a fairly experienced Debian user negates most of it.
  • Re:It's sad (Score:3, Informative)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:45PM (#18402815) 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. 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 for these particular developers. You could google around to find more information on why people are upset about this, but no matter what it boils down to immaturity and petulance.
  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:51PM (#18402869)

    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.

    Boot the install CD and choose "Install a LAMP server" at the menu.

    Other than that it's almost identical to Debian. And it doesn't get any easier than Debian.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 19, 2007 @01:02PM (#18402989)
    You claim that you didn't have to install codecs to get video working on Windows and OS X.

    I don't think that's true. Out-of-the-box, WMP doesn't play everything. Same problem with OS X's Quicktime Player: it doesn't play everything. (And it won't go to full-screen mode out of the box, either.)

    On Windows and Mac I always have to install VLC to get a media player that "just works." On Ubuntu good media players are already there, and, yes, I have to install the codecs.

    So what's the difference? I love the myth of the OS that "just works." Every OS requires tweaking to get it working the way you want.
  • by jshriverWVU ( 810740 ) on Monday March 19, 2007 @01:03PM (#18403015)
    I used debian for years on my servers and desktop and really enjoyed it. Then one day I went to install a hauppauge video capture card and a couple other devices that aren't very standard. After weeks of recompiling the kernel, out-of-branch kernel sources, and various other things it became very tedious. A friend gave me an Ubuntu CD to try it out and everything just worked out of the box. Every piece of hardware was configured and working nicely out of the install, and the universe/multiverse feature was nice for getting things Debian normally doesn't carry. So for now I prefer Ubuntu for the desktop, and Debian or Ubuntu for servers. Just my oppinion, but I've had a couple friends switch over too because they wanted more bleeding edge software or wanting things to just work.
  • Re:Fuck Debian (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lord Bitman ( 95493 ) on Monday March 19, 2007 @01:40PM (#18403473) Homepage
    "Due to licensing issues, we are no longer able to receive security updates to Firefox in an expedient manner. In the interests of maintaining security, we have begun using the fork "Iceweasel". Functionality remains the same, the only user-visible differences being in the name."
  • Re:Debian's problem (Score:5, Informative)

    by lpcustom ( 579886 ) on Monday March 19, 2007 @01:47PM (#18403569)
    Yeah, that's one of the biggest draw to Debian for me. The release scheme is great. I can run stable on my server and it's exactly that....stable. It's older software but I'm not using it for a desktop, I'm running webservers, ftp, and the likes on it. All controlled via ssh. For this situation, stable is a great choice. On my desktop at home, unstable or testing is usually running the bleeding edge stuff and it does this with some good stability. I don't understand comments about the 'age' of Debian releases and comparing them to Fedora or some other bleeding edge distro. Some Distros are made for the desktop, others are better for a server....with Debian you have both and all it takes is to change the word "stable" to "unstable" in the sources.list file. I like that convenience.

    The politics of the Debian development is sad to hear. It's always bad news. It's a shame because Debian is still a great distro. Even with all the internal conflicts, it's still my favorite distro.
  • Re:Firm Leadership (Score:1, Informative)

    by bigredradio ( 631970 ) on Monday March 19, 2007 @03:19PM (#18404729) Homepage Journal

    the tyrany of democracy

    Humm..... I don't quite follow

    1. arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.
    2. the government or rule of a tyrant or absolute ruler.
    3. a state ruled by a tyrant or absolute ruler.
    4. oppressive or unjustly severe government on the part of any ruler.
    5. undue severity or harshness.
    6. a tyrannical act or proceeding.

    A democracy seems to be the least tyrannical. What's your solution?

  • Re:IDNRTA (Score:3, Informative)

    by caseih ( 160668 ) on Monday March 19, 2007 @03:50PM (#18405127)
    I keep hearing that the clipboard is broken but I have yet to see evidence of that. First of all, Terminal is a special case, and always is. That's because the standard cut/copy/paste shortcuts cannot be used directly as they are control keys meant to be received by whatever program you are running in the terminal. So of course you have to right-click and select "copy." For heaven's sake Mac OS X does the same thing.

    Apparently you are confused by the traditional copy/paste X11 method, which still exists. But it is largely independent of the Ctrl-X, Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V shortcuts. I use X11-style copy and paste all the time and it works great. The thing you're mistakenly suggesting is that X11-style copy should automatically fill the Ctrl-X,Ctrl-C, and Ctrl-V -style clipboard buffer. This is wrong. It would lead to mass confusion among people migrating from windows if it did this. So we either need to keep X11-style copy and paste separate from the other, standard copy and paste (separate clipboards and everything), or eliminate X11-style altogether.

    Joe sixpack typically isn't going to mess with the X11-style copy and paste because he won't know it's there. Instead he'll use the standard Ctrl-X, Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V shortcuts and everything will work fairly well. And what is this "shift-insert" thing? Any windows user can tell you such a shortcut hasn't been used (officially) since Windows 95. Everyone long ago settled on the Apple-style keys.

    Thanks to freedesktop standards, standard cut, copy, and paste now "just works." The only flaw remaining is that when an app closes, the contents of the clipboard it was using are lost. Clipboard managers solve that one though.
  • by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Monday March 19, 2007 @03:55PM (#18405187) Homepage Journal

    I think one opportunity that Debian continuously fails to see is to make very clear that Testing is always uptodate and always usable.

    It isn't, though.

    PAM in Testing was broken for months, and X in testing was broken for a while after the changeover to That's what led me to give up on Debian []: 'stable' was too out-of-date, 'testing' was too unstable. By cherry-picking from 'testing', Ubuntu seems to be able to find a happy medium.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 19, 2007 @07:13PM (#18407767)
    you can also just download and install the server edition of ubuntu which takes about 300MB fully installed and basicly is a base system with ssh.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.