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FWD: RMS and Debian on his Toshiba

----- Forwarded message from Jonathan Buzzard <jonathan@issquared.co.uk> -----

Date: Thu, 07 Jan 1999 11:49:13 +0000
From: Jonathan Buzzard <jonathan@issquared.co.uk>
Organization: Integrated Statistical Solutions
X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.5 [en] (WinNT; U)
To: joeyh@debian.org
Subject: RMS and Debian on his Toshiba

> RMS is using debian! He has it installed on his Toshiba laptop and
> has been active on the lists, making comments and asking
> questions (he needs help to get PCMCIA working, it seems).

Having had some correspondence with RMS on getting his Toshiba
working under Debian GNU/Linux I will make a comment, please
feel free to post this somewhere, as I am not subscribed to any
Debian lists.

Before I start I will point out that I have been using Debian
since almost the inception of the project (since November 1993
to be precise). I am also resposible for the Toshiba Linux utilities
a set of programs that allow many of the power saving features
of Toshiba laptops to be controlled under Linux. The Toshiba Linux
utilities are the result of over two years of reverse engineering
effort, and provide comprehensive control over the battery save
features on laptops for the first time under Linux (Toshiba models
only). I currently have three laptops on loan from Toshiba to aid
the development of the programs.

For example RMS is trying to run Debian/Hamm on a Satellite 310CDT
(one of the models I currently have on loan from Toshiba Europe).
It is also relevant that this model is has not been manufactured by
Toshiba for several months now. The basic problem is that several
key packages in Hamm that drive hardware are way out of date.

To sucessfully run on this laptop, you really need at least
pcmcia-cs-3.0.6 and preferably the latest version (3.0.7), it would
also be sensible to have 2.0.36 kernel and the correct X server from
XFree86 3.3.3. On the latest Toshiba models this is even worse as they
all need the Neomagic XFree86 server. However the version of the
pcmcia utilities on Hamm is 3.0.1 which is way out of date, and the
primary source of RMS pcmcia problems.

This exposes a serious problem with the way Debian's policy on
inclusion of updated packages in stable version works. It is
perfectly fine to say that the latest version of apache, gcc, or 
someother software only package is not added to a stable distribution.

But when this policy is extended to include the stable updates to
what are essentially hardware drivers you run into the problem of
the stable version of Debian being unable to run properly on
new hardware, or on this case even old hardware that is no longer
even manufactured.

A way must be found to include the latest stable releases of hardware
drivers in the stable releases of Debian. It is shear madness to
force people to use the 3.0.1 version of the pcmcia utilities when
there exists a better version that is more stable for everyone.
This only effects a tiny number of packages, the kernel, the
pcmcia utilities, ghostscript (it drives most printers) and
X11 servers. In addition all these packages have the concept
of stable releases with beta program etc.

My inital thoughts are that there should be a hardware updates
directory in the stable version which will include the latest
versions of stable hardware drivers. This would mean someone
installing Hamm at the moment could install a kernel-2.0.36,
a pcmica-cs-3.0.7, X11 servers from XFree86 3.3.3 and whatever
the latest GNU version of ghostscript is if it has fixed or
had any printer drivers added.

Finally if you might say this only applies to Toshiba laptops,
remember that Toshiba accounts for around one third of all laptops
sold and laptops account for around one third and rising of
all computers sold. This means that the current stable release of
Debian (Hamm) cannot be installed on around one sixth of all the new
PC's sold. This is plainly a disastrous situation.


PS. Gtk-devel is broken in Hamm/Slink and Potato, there is no
    glibconf.h included which prevents the compliation of any
    Gtk programs, including the beta versions of my Toshiba
    software RMS was trying to compile.

----- End forwarded message -----
see shy jo

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