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Debian Consulting

I've read the posts here debating the issue of removing the list with a
mixture of amusement and concern.  I think people are getting
unnecessarily upset.

I can see both sides of the argument.  On one hand there has clearly
been very little relavant traffic on this list to justify its existance.
On the other hand, the removal of the list would be a very sad sign for
Debian, what would it say about Debian and its position in the
commercial world?

However, I don't think the voting or getting upset with the debian
bureaucrats is productive.  People shutting down inactive lists are just
doing their job.  Voting doesn't help the situation either - if the
problem is that there is not enough on topic discussion on the list.
(Voting in this case is the King Canute of the democratic age - just
because we all vote for a useful thriving and productive high volume
list doesn't mean we get one.)

Removal of the list would be a very unfortunate sign, a sign that debian
consulting is not a widespread thing, that debian consultants do not
communicate well, that debian consulting is in fact quite marginal.  I
think this is actually the case.

I have a very small one person consulting business in a small town.  I
like using debian and use it wherever I can.  My own business is pretty
marginal - I work long hours for not much money.  But at least I'm
working with debian most of the time.  Any other linux related job in
this town would most likely be working with red hat.  And I do
administer some red hat and window servers as part of my work anyway.

I suspect there simply are very few consulting businesses in existance
working with debian.  I wish it were different.  I wish I had at least
the option to join other firms working with debian, I wish there was
more acceptance of debian in the marketplace.

I would like to see the time when debian runs on more than half the
systems around the world.  When the most common choice for home
desktops, office PCs, commercial and industrial systems, enthusiast,
hobbyist and academic systems, was a free software debian system.  Other
systems, free and commercial would exist in small numbers to keep debian
honest, and to increase diversity. (diversity would exist within debian
though, with viable debian BSDs, debian hurd and debian reactos systems,
as well as linux)

I don't know how widespread this vision is.  I remember one of the
leadership candidates saying something like, I want debian to be the
best choice for everone (or every need or something), so I think there
certainly are those who think this way.  I also hear those within debian
who simply don't care how widespread the adoption of debian is, or its
market share vs. red hat, as long as it stays an excellent technical
distribution.  There are also some (very few I hope) who don't want joe
average users using debian because they see it as detracting from debian
in some way.

I simply want to be able to make a living from Debian as well as play
with it as a hobby, and I want more scope to be able to work with it,
which I would have if it became the de-facto standard.

To achieve this of course requires more than just for us to just go back
and beaver away at our own little businesses, or corners of the debian
movement.  It will I believe require major vision and structural

It's instructive to look at Red Hat's experience.  They based their
business I would say on three things - a commitment to free software
(most RH code is GPLd?) - a passable technical distribution - and a
commitment to market it to corporate america.   I belive their corporate
structure will eventually force them to give up on the the commitment to
free software.

Debian is based on - a commitment to free software, technical excellence
in the distribution, and a commitment to the community of developers.
There is a sort of implied marketing to developers and tech types; the
organisation is one made up of developers, so it appeals to developers.
There is no doubt in my mind that debian is unsuitable for the average
home or business desktop user at this time.  Work needs to be done to
make debian (or a sub- or co- distribution) usable for this purpose.

Because of red hat's commitment to marketing, it has become the largest
distribution in terms of market share and mind share.  If things don't
change, it will continue to pull away from debian in these regards.

The debian organisation has been outstandingly sucessful at what it
does, orgainsing the developer community and producing an excellent
technical distribution.  Any moves to market debian better must not be
done at the expense of the current organisation.  But I believe a
commercial organisation must be set up to market debian, and to ensure
debian's suitability for wider commercial and end-user markets.

I would simply have the current organisation as it is, and set up a
separate parallel comercial company to market debian and feed back to
the main organisation about the needs of commercial users.

I also have long thought there needs to be an organisation for debian
users, as opposed to developers, who's job again would be to provide a
place for users who aren't developers to participate in the project and
feed back to the project on the needs of "ordinary" users.

The problem with the commercial organisation is what would it sell to
pay for its marketing efforts?  It could sell boxed sets, although I
think there is limited opportunity here.  It would probably need to be a
sevices based business, selling consulting, tech support, industry
solutions?  This is where debian consultants should be comming in, where
I think we could really make a difference if we chose to.  Perhaps the
organisation could be an umbrella organisation integrating our various
consulting businesses, rather than a straight commercial company per se.

I've seen a number of open source umbrella organisations like this come
and go, but a carefully thought out organisation with ties to debian
would be both a drawcard for members and it would have an excellent base
to work from, - the technical distribution and the history of

My own 2c...


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