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Re: Debian Consulting

On Thu, Jul 10, 2003 at 08:52:43PM -0500, Manoj Srivastava wrote:
> On Fri, 11 Jul 2003 12:07:29 +1200, Alex King <alex@king.net.nz> said: 
> > 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?
> 	The truth, perhaps? 
> > However, I don't think the voting or getting upset with the debian
> > bureaucrats is productive.
> 	Nice. Calling people like Josip, who, apart from managing his
> 	packages, is working hard on several aspects of project
> 	infrastructure, a nit picky faceless bureaucrat is hardly
> 	conducive to opening a dialogue.
I didn't call anyone that of course.  I simply called the listadmins
bureaucrats.  I meant the word mainly to convey a person in an
administrative role doing their job by following rules.  It was not
necessarily meant to be negative, but perhaps the word has negative
conotations.  If so I apologise, I do not have any ill will to debian
developers.  In fact I admire those who donate their time and skills to
the project.

> > People shutting down inactive lists are just doing their job.
> 	Making best use of donated project resources, yes.
> > 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.
> 	Why should we be scared of the truth, then? 
> > 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.
> 	I am of that number.
And I see no reason why people who have a larger vision cannot work
alongside those who simply wish for 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.
> 	Umm. The best way to achieve that is to help. (quick grep in
>  /var/lib/dpkg/available). There are a number of things that would
>  improve the adoption of Debian (GYI based installer, etc). The
>  fastest way to get there is to stop playing, and roll up your sleeves
>  and actually help get there. 
This is slogan often used in debian and the free software world.  Like
all slogans there is truth in it, but repeating it without thinking
deeply enough may obscure the facts.

Yes, a GUI installer may help a little with the adoption of debian, but
I don't actually think it will make that much difference.  It is a side
issue.  If we want widespread adoption, we need to market debian
properly, we need a decent marketing plan.  No other market leader (that
I am aware of) leaves this stuff to chance.

My own contributions to debian have been small, a man page, a few
patches here and there, and some contributions to upstream free software.
I decided not to become a developer because I could still contribute
without being one, and I have other things to do with my time.  This is
part of what I think is great about debian, I can make a small
contribution, and if every user does and we have lots of users, we can
have the best system on the planet.

But I have done other things for debian as well as the little code and
documentation.  I work as a consultant, and advocate for debian in my
own small circle.  This is my own small marketing effort.  For me to
succeed though, I need two things - co-ordination of the marketing on a
larger scale, and better usability in the distro.

> > 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 changes.
> 	Structural changes?
Yes, as I explain below, we need a structure that can co-ordinate a
wider marketing effort.  The current structure is set up for a different
purpose, so it is not suitable.

> > 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.
> 	I mostly agree.
> > 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.
> 	Xandros, Knoppix, Lindows, lycoris? 
Libranet, what was that other one starting with s?

Yes, these are commercial organisations.  But I'd rather see a
commercial organisation using entirely free software and fedding back
more directly to the debian project.

> > 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.
> 	Progeny?
Yes, they were much more on the right track.  but they have not been
very effective, have they, if their purpose was to popularise debian.  I
don't even know if they still exist.

We need something that will make a lot of splash, an ongoing exposure in
the wider community about debian.

> 	Anyway, starting a company to make money of Debian is not
>  really what interests me, but perhaps you can find others to help get
>  things started. You would definitely need your own mailing list when
>  you get there ;-)

Starting a company may not be the answer, but I think the future
popularity of debian is an important question.  If most developers don't
care, then it will get harder and harder to survive as debian

> 	manoj
> -- 
> ROMEO: Courage, man; the hurt cannot be much. MERCUTIO: No, 'tis not
> so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church-door; but 'tis enough,
> 'twill serve.
> Manoj Srivastava   <srivasta@debian.org>  <http://www.debian.org/%7Esrivasta/>
> 1024R/C7261095 print CB D9 F4 12 68 07 E4 05  CC 2D 27 12 1D F5 E8 6E
> 1024D/BF24424C print 4966 F272 D093 B493 410B  924B 21BA DABB BF24 424C

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