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Bits from me

Hello folks,

I am writing this mail to you in my position as "member" of the Debian Desktop
project as outlined on http://www.debian.org/desktop/.

The internal Debian Desktop Project was called into life by Colin Walters in
2002. I think I don't tell lies when I tell that Colin, while believing that
Debian is an excellent distribution for servers, always had the conviction
that Debian was not friendly enough to end users. His idea was to fix this
unacceptable situation by establishing a group of people who were interested
in improving the free Debian GNU/Linux distribution with regards to desktops.
This basically was what he called Debian Desktop and what we still call the
Debian Desktop project today.

Back in september of 2003, Colin explained that he did not have enough time
to be the one at the top of Debian Desktop anymore. I formally took over the
lead of the Debian Desktop Project. Since then I didn't even introduce myself
to anyone on this list or to anyone else involved in the project. So, one of
the intentions of this mail is to tell you all the things about me you never
wanted to know. Another thing I want to do is to explain my ideas, my points
of view about certain things and even about what I would like the future of
the Debian Desktop subproject to be like.

First, let's start with a short introduction. My name is Martin Loschwitz, 
I was born on 7th October 1986 in Viersen, Germany. My computer career 
began when I was donated an old 486 back in 1998. Early in 2002, I applied 
to become a Debian Developer. Early in 2003, my account was created. Many
people will know my name as I am the Debian package maintainer for Qt3 by
TrollTech, which is the base for KDE. In my free time, when I do not work
for Debian, I write articles for the German Linux Magazin, Linux User and
EasyLinux -- printed paper magazines for linux professionals and also for
people being interested in Linux while coming from the Windows World.

As such, one of my interests of course is the desktop. This is exactly why
I started to participate in Debian Desktop and why I even agreed to become
one of the "members" of it.

Let me explain what in my opinion the problems are of which Debian suffers.
To make it easier to understand, I will divide it into two different parts.

For one, of course one problem is that the software we distribute in the
Debian release which is called 'stable' is quite too old to be useful for
anyone who needs current desktop software. It would be absolutely, and if
I say absolutely I mean absolutely, necessary, to fix this situation. If
there is one instance inside of Debian which has this duty, then it is up
to us to create something which gives the user more actual software while
not being completely unstable.

Problem: Software in "stable" is too old.

The other point, and this is probably going to be the one which will be
really hard to fix, is the problem of missing graphical tools for all the
important configuration tasks users have to do nowadays. It's just plain
unacceptable that in Debian, the only way to change the IP of a network
interface is to edit /etc/network/interfaces with an editor you like.
Another example is the lack of a general tool for updates, or at least
something that reminds you to update your system. A KDE or GNOME panel
applet could probably be very helpful.

What we need are graphical tools which can be handled intuitively and which
are easy to use in general. Of course, this also includes the installer. It
will be up to us to work together with the UserLinux people in order to get
a graphical front end for the debian-installer.

Problem: Lack of proper and easy to handle configuration tools

We will have to find effective ways for handling the two problems described
above. This will also depend on how many people are willing to participate
in this thing. So, for anybody involved in Debian Desktop, the mottoe has to
be "Ask people to participate" by now.

Some tasks exist which I would like to see in the hands of somebody for a 
long time period. For example, there should be somebody who would like to
take care of the web page. Additionally, we need translators for that page
because even i18n will be a consistant part of our work.

Some of you might have noticed "The Swirl", which was consistant part of 
the topic of the #debian-desktop channel on irc.debian.org and may have
wondered what "The Swirl" is. Well, at this moment, I can tell you that
the Swirl is a project which aims at getting rid of the first problem
described above. Nearer details will follow as the preparations go on.

I saw somebody decided to do a meeting on IRC on Thurs Feb 26 0:00 GMT.
Do you see any chances for switching to another point in time? I live in
GMT+1 and 1:00 would be way late, esp. since I have to go to school the
next day. As I would like to participate in this meeting, I think that
something like 22:00 GMT+1 would be great.

Thanks for your attention,

  .''`.   Martin Loschwitz           Debian GNU/Linux developer
 : :'  :  madkiss@madkiss.org        madkiss@debian.org
 `. `'`   http://www.madkiss.org/    people.debian.org/~madkiss/
   `-     Use Debian GNU/Linux 3.0!  See http://www.debian.org/

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