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 Hi Matt,

On 26/10/10 22:47, Matt Zimmerman wrote:
On Sat, Sep 18, 2010 at 02:09:42PM +0100, Clement Lefebvre wrote:
It's not a switch. It's an addition. We offer many editions. One of
them is based on Debian Testing. All others are still based on
Ubuntu's latest.
Interesting, I didn't know that.

There are many reasons:
Thanks for sharing these.

- The speed and performance gains.
Can you expand on what performance gains you see with Debian compared to
--> The desktop is snappier, applications are faster to launch, the memory usage isn't as intensive and Debian allows for a comfortable Gnome experience on lower specs than Ubuntu does. Now, what makes Ubuntu slower than Debian? I have no idea, but running both on the same machine, it's obvious Debian is amongst these fast systems with Slackware, Arch and the likes. Mint and Ubuntu in comparison, require faster computers.
- There was a huge demand for it.
Did the people making this demand have the same reasons you listed in your
mail, or perhaps others?
--> We're talking about thousands of people shouting "Debian" here :) It's the 3rd most popular Linux distribution on the market, it has a large user base and a huge following. It's also the base on top of which sit many distributions and it's gained a lot of respect and admiration across the Linux landscape. The performance and the rolling aspects are seducing of course, but there are plenty of reasons why some people prefer Debian over Ubuntu (and vice-versa), some being clearly identified, and others being clearly subjective.
Whether it's plymouth, GDM, the CTRL+ALT+Backspace change... there
has been time where we didn't feel in control of things and we found
ourselves stuck in a position where we just had to follow. Our
impact on the overall Linux desktop isn't as big as upstream
projects such as Ubuntu or Gnome of course, so we humbly accept
these things and support them towards our users... still, it's a
reason for us to do some R&D and seek solutions to give us more
choices and options in the future.
So there were some changes made in Ubuntu which you didn't feel were
beneficial to your project.
--> That is natural. Ubuntu and Linux Mint are separate projects with different goals and different directions. Upstream decisions don't always fit 100% and there are times where, due to technical matters, it's difficult for us not to follow them. We still put our buttons to the right, we still use CTRL+ALT+BACKSPACE to restart X and BACKSPACE to go back one page in Firefox... as much as possible, we set our desktops the way we see fit and we're happy to follow on the innovations we feel are beneficial to us, and to work around those that we don't need. Sometimes, it's more difficult of course... especially when things touch the base of the system itself. With Grub2 we lost the ability to theme things up, with GDM2 we lost themeability as well, with Plymouth we're getting a broken splash screen... all these combined we're ending up with a boot sequence that looked much better in Linux Mint 4 than it does in Linux Mint 10... Of course we're gaining a lot of other things and there are many reasons why Grub2, GDM2 and Plymouth are better than their previous alternatives. The problem for us here is simply that we need to follow on these upstream choices made by Ubuntu or introduce important changes in Linux Mint which create problems down the line in the compatibility between the two distros.

When these changes were being discussed---on ubuntu-devel, in Launchpad
blueprints, at UDS, etc.---was anyone from Mint involved in those
discussions?  Were you surprised by the changes when they happened?
--> No. There's been very little communication between Linux Mint and Ubuntu since 2006. We weren't surprised as the process followed by Ubuntu is open and it's easy for us to get the information we need on the upcoming releases. It's not a real problem or something that needs to change though and we don't feel the need to impact on the direction taken by Ubuntu. I can see where it's going and I personally think you're doing a great job. With every single release Ubuntu is getting more polished. I don't think this should change. At heart, you're not here to provide a great base (even though it is a great base), you're here to make a great desktop OS, and your directions shouldn't be impacted or compromised by what suits or doesn't suit downstream derivatives.

We strive to be transparent and open to participation in projects like
these, I'm interested in your feedback on how Ubuntu can improve this type
of engagement with our downstreams.
--> Let me touch on a few aspects:

- Direction and goals: I don't think Ubuntu needs to consider anything related to downstream.

- Innovation: Our process is open as well. Whether it's on the blog or on github, it's easy for developers to follow what we're doing and to take advantage of it. I was surprised to see that the Ubuntu Software Center, even though it came years later, didn't reuse our technology nor included key functionality from the Software Manager. Likewise, the Update Manager we developed and its filtering process didn't raise any apparent discussion within the Ubuntu devs. We're constantly following your innovations, reusing them, including them, forking them, integrating some of them in our own tools... and we develop a lot of things ourselves but we feel the impression that you simply don't see that and you're missing a lot of opportunities from this. To take an example, our menu (which was initially forked out of a 3rd party Ubuntu project which never made it to Ubuntu) was ported to both Debian and Fedora, and even though the Ubuntu forums are full of tutorials on how to install it in Ubuntu, it never got added to it, nor did any of its features were discussed in Ubuntu. We could easily push these ideas towards the proper channels in Ubuntu, or promote the inclusion of our package in your repositories, but our goal isn't to shape Ubuntu the way we see fit, it's to do our best with our own system. We're #2 on the Linux landscape so I'm surprised so little is being taken or reused from us.

- Bugs: This is working exceptionally well, and it's thanks to the way Launchpad was designed.

--> All in all, Ubuntu is still the best base for us and we're both extremely grateful and happy to be able to use it and to make it fit our own needs. There could be more communication among ourselves, for sure, but what we're doing here with you Matt, is already a step in the right direction. With every new Ubuntu release, we're a little scared of what the choices might be and how they will impact us (the latest being Unity.. though I have to admit, we never planned to go towards Gnome Shell either), but we're also extremely excited. We take a lot of your innovations and combined with ours we provide people with great releases, it'd be nice to see you guys do the same and benefit from our innovations as well. There's plenty of them out there and we'd be delighted to answer questions or help out Ubuntu devs in integrating them and/or reusing them.

--> We could organize an IRC meeting with some of the devs to touch on some of this. I'd be delighted to meet some of the guys behind the coding that's being done on Ubuntu. I know the names pretty well from the changelogs already :) Let me know if this is something you guys want to do.

Clement Lefebvre
Linux Mint.

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