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Re: hmm...

On Mon, Jul 23, 2001 at 05:39:36PM -0400, Perry E. Metzger wrote:

> At the same time, however, we have a very large number of very smart
> systems hackers, and a huge legion of people who've already ported a
> large chunk of the software you're looking at to NetBSD before and
> therefore have serious experience doing it. There are a bunch of good
> people who've been working on pkgsrc forever and are very enthusiastic
> -- that's why we have about 2000 packages in pkgsrc even though we
> have a much smaller userbase than Debian.

Oh, certainly. There's absolutely no way that I'd even think about doing
this without the effort that's been put in by the NetBSD people (as I've
said elsewhere, I'm using NetBSD's patches to gcc in order to get the
thing to compile, let alone be usable). I really am greatly impressed at
just how polished large amounts of NetBSD are, and I truly appreciate the
effort that's gone into getting it to run on such a wide range of
platforms. My opinions are also somewhat shaped by the fact that NetBSD is
the first UNIX I ever used, way back in 1995 :)

> You'd have to be pretty flexible about how the goals were stated,
> however. NetBSD people are by and large going to be uninterested in
> your goals -- they're interested in their own -- but there is no
> reason that the two can't overlap in interesting ways. This is, of
> course, only to be expected -- whenever any two people or groups work
> together each has their own goals, and cooperation is based on
> recognizing how to work on the overlapping parts and how not to fight
> about others.

>From my point of view (I should probably emphasise that I'm not yet an
official Debian developer, and I in no way whatsoever speak for the
Debian project or even anyone else on this list :) ) there are three
reasons that I'm interested in this project:

1) It means that Debian can be run on a wider range of hardware than it
currently can be
2) It means that Debian is less tied to Linux than it currently is. Debian
GNU/Hurd exists but is still not really usable - a Debian distribution
based on the NetBSD kernel should be just as usable as a Debian
distribution based on the Linux kernel. Both are DFSG free, and a Debian
NetBSD distribution would fulfil all the criteria of the Debian social
3) It's something that's fun to play with and just seem cool :)

As I hinted above, my personal preference is for a system that is as
similar to Debian Linux and Debian HURD as possible, which is obviously
not going to be something that is going to attract large number of NetBSD
users to Debian (my preference would be for a primarily GNU userspace, for
instance, and usage of Debian-style packages rather than the ports system,
thereby removing many of the reasons that I'd expect are responsible for
current NetBSD users using NetBSD), and my intention certainly wouldn't be
to attempt to compete with the NetBSD project in any way.

On the other hand, it is likely to expose the NetBSD code to a larger
(even if only slightly) userbase. I'm certainly not interested in forking
NetBSD in any way, and I doubt that anyone else here is either. I'm
certainly planning on forwarding anything I discover that could be useful
to the NetBSD developers. The fundamental goal of the Debian project is to
increase the number of people using Free software, and there's absolutely
no advantage in doing anything that restricts the ability of anyone to
improve the quality of their software.

> I have now looked over a bunch of the older mail in the archive and
> there seems to be a perception of hostility by the BSD people. Well,
> in almost every open source community I've worked in, people in
> general seem to have a lack of needed diplomacy skills, and that goes
> for the Linux universe as well as the BSD universe. Make no mistake --
> you'd need to be a bit more flexible than you're perhaps used to and
> try pretty hard not to be offended by a minority that got angry
> easily.

I'm well used to having large numbers of people shouting at me loudly, so
this doesn't bother me to any great extent :) I don't expect everyone on
the planet to be enthusiastic about the concept of a Debian distribution
based around NetBSD, and I certainly imagine that there will be paranoid
people on both "sides" who see the idea as some sort of personal insult
designed to weaken either Debian or NetBSD. However, I also imagine that
there will be people who are more concerned about the quality of the code
than petty squabbling. I expect we'll see how it balances out before too
long :)

> However, the benefits might be very large for all concerned. It might
> be worth discussing.


Matthew Garrett | mjg59@srcf.ucam.org

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