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Re: [Debconf-team] Request for a debconf keynote

How is Ubuntu important to Debian? I am not claiming it isn't, or
questioning it, but genuinly interested in your take on this.
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.

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 ecosystem.

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.

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.
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.

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.

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.
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 collaboration.


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