Re: [Debconf-team] Request for a debconf keynote
First, all of Debian's derivatives are important to Debian. All of
Ubuntu's derivatives are important to Ubuntu (and hence Debian too :-))
and we go to quite a lot of trouble to accommodate them and collaborate
with them. A derivative is not a fork, unless both sides are unwilling
to find merge points. Derivatives as a whole broaden the appeal of the
core platform. Debian aims to be the universal OS, and the only way it
will truly achieve that is if it views itself as the superset of all its
derivatives. So the opportunity to bring Debian and its derivatives as a
whole into a more productive relationship would be valuable for Debian.
How is Ubuntu important to Debian? I am not claiming it isn't, or
questioning it, but genuinly interested in your take on this.
Second, Ubuntu is a hugely productive conduit for Debian's work to reach
end-users. Some folks are exposed to Debian through Knoppix, some
through Xandros, many through Debian's own releases, but most folks who
get to experience the joy of APT come to it through Ubuntu. Ubuntu is
the way that most Debian users experience Debian. The great things in
Debian shine through in Ubuntu, and have become much more popular than
they were before as a result. That's not obvious to hard-core Debian
folks, to whom the universe was always clearly centered on Debian, but
for the rest of the world there has been an extraordinary shift from an
RPM world to a DEB world, largely driven by the popularity of Ubuntu. Of
course, that would not have been possible without Debian, and you'll see
that I always give credit for that whenever Ubuntu receives praise or an
award. But it's still notable that Ubuntu has hugely expanded the pool
of Debian users, and hence contributors.
Third, a tremendous amount of work that goes into Debian originates in
Ubuntu. Most folks don't realise it, but we have more people generating
packages, bug reports and patches than any other institution, and we've
gone to quite long lengths to make sure that this work flows upstream,
and to Debian. There are opportunities to improve, and I hope you'll
agree that Ubuntu and the people who contribute to Ubuntu have actively
sought out ways to make that a reality. It saddens me when people deny,
or don't acknowledge the contribution that Ubuntu and its people make to
Debian, because it makes it that much harder to motivate folks on the
Debian side to collaborate. We are likely to continue to invest and
continue to do very good work, and I would like to see that work flow
more smoothly into Debian. It helps if there's agreement in advance for
how that work should be approached, so that we don't have NIH-itis and
go off in different directions. By and large, the best Ubuntu developers
have figured out who to work with in Debian to get some things done. But
it would be much more effective if there was a good forum to articulate
and work on those shared ideas together. Then Debian would benefit even
more from the resources and community in Ubuntu.
Fourth, Ubuntu has some intrinsic strengths that could benefit Debian
even more, if we had a good dialog. We can make some transitions more
smoothly, for example, because we can focus on a single thing across the
archive. I don't believe that "one way is better", I believe that having
different groups able to pursue different approaches is more powerful
*when they work in harmony*. I think Debian has made good progress on
some things, inspired and helped by Ubuntu, and could do even better if
we had a clearer dialog. I don't want Ubuntu to replace Debian, far from
it - I want Ubuntu to complement Debian in ways that will strengthen the
I could go on. Suffice it to say that I believe Debian is greatly
strengthened by the existence of Ubuntu, and the opportunity to
strengthen the relationship is valuable.
I've had a number of private replies to this thread, so I know I'm not
alone in thinking that Ubuntu is important to Debian.
It's true that Debian is much more about "real code, delivered" than
hype or marketroid-speak. But there is, in my view, room for the
articulation of a vision that can guide the contributions of those who
want to make a better platform. Some itches are personal, others can
best be scratched together, if you take my meaning.
We have the DPL address, but that's hardly visionary; it's the DPL
address. People go there because that's what you do, not because
they're looking for the big eye-openers.. Debian is about work done,
not work that could get done.
I'm sure that each DPL will bring their own style. Some will be more
technical, others will be more team oriented, some will want to focus on
the processes of the organisation, others will look outwards to the way
the organisation relates to other groups. I wouldn't want to limit any
DPL to the patterns of her predecessors.
So I don't agree that people go the the DPL address because "that's what
you do, not because they're looking for the big eye-openers". I for one
have usually been interested to hear the vision for Debian that the DPL
is articulating, because I do think that will guide the spirit and work,
as much as anything else will in Debian.
At an individual level, there are of course more areas of collaboration
than you list here. GCC, Java and OpenOffice, for example. Security. I
would be glad to articulate a more complete list if given the
opportunity to do so. That would be part of the point of a presentation
- to give an overview of the places we already work well together, and
look towards ways we can elevate these into a more systematic form of
So far, apart from individual collaboration e.g. on the X and
Python fronts, I have yet to see this vital role. Note that I am
specifically speaking for myself, not the debconf team.