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Re: Arguments for basing upon Debian

On Oct 8, 2011, at 3:17, Jamie Thompson wrote:

> Hi. Not sure if this is the best list to post to, but it seems the most
> suitable I've seen.

I think Paul Wise is right, the Debian Derivatives list is best;


Note that there already is an entry in the Debian Derivatives Census that you are welcome to improve if you're interested;


> Please advise if you can think of any more suitable
> and I'll repost there. I'm not subscribed to this list, so please CC me
> to any replies :)
> First, some background:

Sadly I'm aware of this chain of events.  
> Now, the point:
> However, when making this case I seem to be constantly met with a
> barrage of statements that Debian is unsuitable.

Ignore those. They are largely not germane or technically grounded in the facts.

> I've had dismissive
> statements thrown at me that .RPMs are better than .DEBs, that yum is
> better than apt, and how the repository structure is unsuitable for
> "mobile platforms" where there will apparently be "thousands of new apps
> each day". I even read one individual stating "Linux Foundation should
> be stronger and bring different players together, and shouldn't accept
> excuses like for example what Debian&Ubuntu gives against them starting
> to use rpm and retire deb".

These are all debatable, and in some ways, unprovable positions. That one packaging format is "better" than another due to some technical capacity is specious. That yum is better than apt is factually incorrect. Solving dependency resolution is, and has been for years, much better in APT than in yum and in rpm in general. Zypper has made significant improvements in that area however so the rpm platform is largely similar to ATP now, but yum is still inferior on its own. I find it risible to imply that a directory layout is more suitable for mobile computing. How would one even make that argument?

Red Hat, a very large commercial company, had a great deal of sway when it came time to pick a packaging format when the Linux Standards Base was formed. This is unfortunate in some ways since the decision was taken on a commercial and not a technical basis, but it is fortunate that Debian has excellent support for rpms as a consequence. There is also work (SPDX I believe) being done to ameliorate much of the differences between the two formats.

> The "eloquence" of that individual aside,
> it's very difficult to have an reasoned discussion it seems.

Humans rarely argue from rational standpoints. 
> So basically, what I'm looking for is more evidence

This is not the path to choose, though it may seem the right one. I've gone down this specific path. I was the maemo debmaster and I brought the request to support debs in front of MeeGo's TSG. No amount of rational argument was persuasive. I don't see how this would change now as I know all the principle actors in Mer, Maemo, MeeGo (I'm the Release Manager for MeeGo IVI), and I hope to be involved in Tizen as well as increase my work in Debian.

One must understand the choice of rpm vs. deb is made on two levels - the individual level and the commercial level. The individual in these cases tends to be a developer and they're often quite comfortable with their particular environment, workflow, programming language, etc. This makes moving from one flavor to another appear a threat to their livelihood in some cases, especially if they rely on rpm for supporting their income for example. On the corporate level the choice of rpm vs. deb is mirrored in the choice between silicon architecture. The Linux Foundation, which I work closely with, is oriented towards an x86 architecture. This is one reason why Linaro exists - it is essentially a fork of the Linux kernel for the ARM processor. ARM felt that this work could not be done at the Linux Foundation and created a separate organization. While the LF hosts rpm based distros, Linaro feeds its work into Debian and Ubuntu, therefor debs. 

So when you choose one format over another, you're implicitly aligning yourself with one silicon architecture over another. This battle is intense because the sale of computer chips is driven by consumer and mobile computing, that is where the growth is. You need things like power management, a good price / performance ratio, and a solid Linux story to take market share. Large corporations are basing their work on various distros, now that the Linux kernel is essentially the de facto standard for new hardware (Microsoft just bought a ARM license this year), which means that their is market share to be gained by creating an ecosystem around a particular technology or set of technologies. This is why the debate is so infected with FUD.

> Merging the best of both would seem to be a good way forward?),

Here's the best path forward; 

- Write great software
- License it under a strong copyleft license
- Contribute to truly open projects

That's it. Based on those criteria one might propose that a Debian based re-spin of Mer (let's call it DeMer) might be a good path forward if you wanted a new project to work on. If not, you can participate in a number of good projects, like GNU, Fedora or Debian.

My choice is Debian, because of its social contract, its high quality software, its support for a number of architectures, and because of the people involved. Your choice of course will likely be different. :-)



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