Re: Debian and Redhat - are most linux users missing the point?
George Bonser wrote:
> On Sat, 27 Feb 1999, Ed Cogburn wrote:
> > First, I think a *lot* of the Debian users are using it at least
> > in part based on 'political' issues such as Debian being the only
> > non-commercial distribution (myself included). For one thing, as
> > another poster mentioned, a lot of the press that Debian gets
> > explicitly points out its noncommercial, volunteer-based status,
> > which means a lot of people who are sensitive to that kind of
> > politics, are coming to Debian.
> That is fine but you are never going to get too far beyond personal use if
> your claim to fame is a political issue. 90% of computer use is in
> business. In that application, technical issues are the main criteria.
> They are not worried about the belief of the programmer so much as they
> are the performance of the program.
I never referred to it as 'claim to fame'. I don't think that
Debian should advertise itself as a non-commercial,
volunteer-based operation. They should talk about its technical
benefits. This won't change the fact that the publicity Deb gets
will often refer to its non-commercial, volunteer-based operation,
as distinguishing characteristics. Which means we'll attract
folks who think the 'politics' of Deb are at least partially
important to them.
> > Second, and perhaps most importantly, Debian's 'politics' have a
> > lot to do with its technical superiority. Debian releases only
> > when the dist is ready and not a day before. Deb can do this
> > because the developers aren't working on a management-imposed
> > release deadline. Deb is basically rock-solid, with a package
> > manager thats technically superior to RPM.
> I fail to see how the differences between RPM and dpkg have anything to do
> with politics. Both are licensed under the same license. You are correct
> in stating that Debian is more stable on initial release. THe cure for
> that in Red Hat shops is to never upgrade to ?.0 ... always wait for .2
When the core Deb developers decide something is necessary, they
set about fixing the problem in a coordinated, group effort. Like
the kernel itself, the number of eyes on the code determines its
quality to some extent. I don't think RH can equal this when it
comes to the development of RPM. How many developers does Deb
have now? How many programmers does RH have? Also, to an extent,
Deb developers are interested in doing what is right, not what is
expedient. Thus it is not a surprise to me that .deb is equal if
not better than .rpm. I'm not trying to compare RH to Deb on
technical grounds; thats already been gone over. Sure, waiting
for 1.02 instead of 1.00 is a smart thing to do not only for RH,
but others as well. It is good practical advice. All I was
getting at, is the 'politics' of Deb does have influence on the
issues of new deb users and deb's overall technical state.
> Debian's superiority is process related, not so much content. The fact
> that I can upgrade a machine over the net while logged into the target
> machine over the network through a firewall that does not pass X is a big
> advantage. The way debian sticks to standards for building packages that
> ensure that all the packages will integrate together is better ... also
> has nothing to do with politics. When/if debian decides to eliminate key
> packages or libraries for political reasons (almost did this with pine)
> that make the distribution a pain to use in the real world then it is time
> to build a different distro using the Debian process but with different
> In other words, the value is the process and not the content.
What do mean by content here? The software?
I'm saying the 'process' has been positively influenced by the
'politics' (the Social Contract is perhaps a good example of the
'politics' of Debian). A newcomer to Debian will read the 'About'
and 'Social Contract' sections on the web site and immediately
realize Debian is far different when compared to the other
distributions. That leads to the attraction of developers (and
users) with a slightly different 'take' on Debian and free
software, and its the developers that Deb has recruited over time
that is responsible for the superior process you refer too.
Its ok for you to be interested only in the end result, Debian
does not require potential users to give allegiance, or worship,
to Debian (or FSF) before using Debian. The 'politics' may be
irrelevant to you, and thats ok too. To issue a blanket
determination that the 'politics' are irrelevant to Debian's
success though, simply isn't true. I've seen many comments from
different people on this list over time that suggest the
'politics' are important to Debian to some degree for many people.