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Re: hmm...

> Well, let me note this: the NetBSD project consists of people who are
> far better at managing a base Unix and its kernel than at handling
> certain kinds of day to day usability. We've got crappy install tools
> and such, and we're well aware of it. Closer cooperation with people
> who've got a significant amount of clue in terms of end user
> usability would be a great thing.

Hehe, don't we all want to see ourselves that way? But yes, I agree
that Debian has put some emphasis in this area, and is a long way
further than the BSDs and the vast majority of other Linux
distributions. The reason for this is that we put more effort in...
people who actually care about their packages make sure that the
dependencies, installation scripts, etc. work. And, as such, it would
obviously be very helpful to have qualified NetBSD hackers taking care
of Debian's NetBSD packages...

And, looking at it from the other side, if all of the NetBSD core team
jumped up today and said, "we want our entire distribution packaged
Debian-style, and we want to make it our official distribution
tomorrow," I would applaud them for their wise decision. Mind you, they
wouldn't notice... my applause would be drowned in the tidal wave of
flames sent over by the OpenBSD and FreeBSD folks...

> 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, I certainly believe that! (And I'll know for sure once your very
smart systems hackers have gotten NetBSD working on the SGI Indigo
R3000, since I'll be owning one soon.)

> If you were clever enough about how you did this and willing to be a
> bit flexible about the goals, you might actually be able to get very
> active cooperation from the NetBSD folks -- VERY active
> cooperation. That could mean a much better sort of success scenario
> for all concerned.

What we really need here is a contact person... someone willing to go
to the NetBSD folks, explain to them what it is we want and how it can
halp what they want. We also need a contact person to organize
webspace, etc., from the Debian project. Now, some time ago, someone
realized this and declared himself Project Leader... and later
disappeared. Marvellous. I think we should vote for a new Project
Leader, someone who is willing to state our case to the Debian and to
the NetBSD folks. Nominations?

> 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.

Yes, I can see that. There are things that I myself don't like about
Debian policy... such as FHS. I know that some pretty good BSD folks
have some pretty good reasons to dislike FHS. OTOH, there are some
advantages to the consistency given by the Debian system... there's
lots of hypocritical Linux distributions out there who claim to be FHS
compliant but aren't really. The question will be, does the Debian
project (as a whole) care more about having a great, universal OS, or
does it care more about being compatible with a bunch of 2nd-rate Linux
distros? You'll notice that there's talk of not going along with LSB
because they want us to accept inferior RPM packages... :-)

> 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 think the people contributing to this list won't be the problem - the
hardcore militants of either project will. I've read a bit of
debian-devel, and I assure you that not everyone there is excessively

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

Yes. Let's get that Project Leader election underway, or at least
appoint a delegation to go talk with the NetBSD people.

> Speaking purely for myself and in no way as part of the NetBSD
> Project.

Ditto. :-)

- Michael

"I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing
one can be sure of changing is oneself."
  -- Aldous Huxley

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