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Re: Some thoughts about a Debian for Desktops

On Tue, 10 Feb 2004 23:02:49 +0100, Elmar Athmer <linux@nixus-minimax.de> wrote:


I'm new to this list and want to mention some of my thoughts about a Debian
distribution for Desktops.

The most annoying and biggest problem with debian is the outdated software.
When Debian 3.0 was released, KDE 3.0 was already released for about 4
months. Because of the long release cycles KDE 2.2 (?) is still the actual
KDE-Release in the actual Debian Release.
Of course this conservative use of software is useful for servers.
But if I exaggerate: Why installing software to a computer - it is the most
stable without any software!

So there is already a question: Is the aim of debian-desktop to improve Debian (i.e. more userfriendly installer, etc.), or aims debian-desktop to make a
new distribution?
Shorter release cycles can only become real by forking into a new

I don't think a new distro is the answer. I think forking the debian repositories would be better. Like have a seperate desktop-testing and desktop-stable branches.

I think, a system is userfriendly, if you once set it up and then don't have to care about a lot. With SuSE there where problems when trying to update,
that made me leave SuSE. Debian is very close to this idea: you need some
time to configure and then it just works.

Now lets talk about the argument, for desktop use unstable is stable enough
and could be used.
Average users are really scared by the description of unstable ("everything
could be breaken...").
And updating software often is not possible for every user. Especially average
users have often no highspeed connection to update their system.

Updating could be handled like XP. Little tray proggie that will download and install updates for you. Very simple really. (might create probs if the user decides to use unstable, then that wouldn't really be a desktop user would it?...)

So a first step might be to get a snapshot of unstable, make everything work
and provide security-updates.
When these are released on CD it is also available for PCs with no or slow
internet connection.

Something already mentioned in this list: A user doesn't want to choose
software. Debian has about 8000 packages (in woody), and if a user is
searching for an ICQ-Client he doesn't want to test and configure a client just to find out, that other clients work better and he has to configure it

So choosing the "best" software might help a lot, and shrinks also the number of CDs. Of course this is connected to a lot of flamewars, especially about the Desktop-Environment KDE or Gnome. I think Gnome or KDE is just a question
about the flavor qt-look or GTK...

Choosing the best software would/should speed up releases, less time waiting for less stuff to stablize. I think during install the installer should ask the user to classify him self as a novice, power, or advanced user and then select what to install/what to ask the user from that. (GNOME for newbies, KDE for power, pick what you want for advanced...) Also packages should have alternate names. "Hey I wan't an instant messanger" Opps now what does the user do? This IMO should be worried about later as there are many ways to accomplish this.

On the state of the debian-desktop, from where I am standing it looks pretty dead to me. We don't seem to be doing anything... Maybe I am wrong.

Matthew A. Nicholson

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