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Motivations of a user to move to Debian...

I got this email in one of the lists I am active in.  Just thought I'd
share it here and get people's opinions.


Prabhu Ramachandran (prabhu@aero.iitm.ernet.in)  proclaimed:
> hi all,
>         Thanks to a very generous donation to ILUGC from Sudhakar (aka
> Thaths) <thats@netscape.com> I have a copy of Debian Linux 2.1.  After
> a long while I have finally decided to move from RedHat to Debian (I
> havent done it yet but hope to do it soon).  For those interested in
> the relative merits and demerits of RH vs Debian (which is another
> Linux distro) please read on.  This is a long mail and might be worth
> reading.  You have been warned!
>         Of late I have learnt to make good quality RPMs and wanted to
> give back something to the community that has given me so much.  I
> tried signing up at RHCN (Red HAt Contrib Net).  Since I already had a
> bugzilla login at redhat I wasnt able to sign up via the web.  I then
> posted to the rhcn maintainer but he never responded.  Finally he
> responded asking me for my pgp key and I mailed it to him.  Either my
> mail to him had never reached or he didnt care but he never replied
> and I dont think he did anything.  I subsequently sent several mails
> to him and to others but was always ignored.  I was and still am
> mighty pissed off at the lack of response for more than a month
> now. And this was inspite of the fact that I had made three different
> packages into RPMS (vtk-2.2, Ygl, and Plotmtv) a full month back.  I
> sent mail to other RH employees but to no avail.  I am sure that
> Redhat can care less.  At this point there were a few possibilities
> (a) Join redhat list, or redhat-devel list and try telling the folks
> there of my problems but I felt that it was unnecessary. If the people
> in charge of RHCN were truly interested in developers joining they
> should've welcomed me without myself having to join all kinds of
> lists.  With already around 100 mails a day I cannot manage a huge
> list like rh-devel etc.
> (b) If my mails never reached redhat and the folks never saw them
> then, heck! its not my problem!  My mails seem to reach a lot of
> people on the ILUG list all over the world. So, it is unlikely that my
> mails dont reach redhat.
> (c) I could've signed up as another user (for which I didnt have a
> bugzilla login). But this is a waste of my time to manage another
> email account on the web.  And why should I do wierd things just to
> sign up as a developer.  I spend my spare time trying to help linux
> users and if someone there (at RedHat) cant spend 5 minutes to just
> add my pgp key it is not worth joining such an organisation.
> (d) I could change my distro.
> Because of such a horrid response (or lack of it) from Red Hat I was
> very very upset.  This in no way detracts from the quality of the
> RedHat distribution but as far as a developer is concerned it clearly
> is not a distro for developers to actively participate in.  This and
> the fact that DEbian has so many (~2200) *stable* packages with their
> distro and also a very open developer policy made me decide to switch
> to Debian.
>         Some people on this list will definitely be surprised that I
> have moved to Debian.  Well, you have judged me wrong all this while
> if you thought I was anti-Debian.  I dont think there is a single mail
> that I have sent that was ever anti-Debian.  Infact a long while ago I
> knew that Debian is an excellent distro and even in my outdated
> (almost by a year) web page I have spoken sparingly about it.  Here
> are some pro's and cons for Debian.  I may have missed some points but
> I am giving a general idea.
> The Pro's:
> ^^^^^^^^^
> 1.  A truly HUGE number of packages.  I believe that the official
> Debian CD set (without the contrib and non-free CD's) come with 2200
> packages (Debian Gurus please correct me if I am wrong).  Any package
> you can think of is already packaged by a trusted maintainer and on
> the CD!!!  The range of software is truly amazing!  Due to Debian's
> open policy the number of developers and software packages is
> constantly growing!  Now, no commercial organisation can compete with
> the sheer number of Debian developers (at around 400 or so now).  I
> suggested a similar line of development (for a part of their distro by
> making use of RHCN) to RedHat but as usual got no response.
> 2.  Solid testing.  Before a new release is made all the software is
> **rigourously** tested.  All packages(debs) are made by trusted
> maintainers and tested for all kinds of bugs for a pretty long
> period. This makes Debian pretty much rock solid.  Besides any tom
> dick or harry can make rpms but only trusted maintainers can become
> official deb makers and since there are so many packages, DEbian users
> are usually wary of using arbitrary deb's.
> 3.  A clear adherence to open standards (LSB).  I believe once the
> Debian policy manual is read one gets to know what stuff is where and
> hence maintaining the sytem becomes very easy.  This is not
> necessarily true with Redhat where there is a strong emphasis on using
> GUI tools to confiure stuff.  The RH folks are also lukewarm to
> following the LSB.
> 4.  An open policy to developers and bug tracking.  Anyone who is
> agreeable to the Debian Social contract can become a maintainer and
> Debian promises to keep all bugs and bug tracking open to the public.
> I guess this is true of Red Hat too.
> 5.  A strong user community - since the entire distro is made purely
> by volunteers and donations.  Debian is truly free!  Red Hat too
> produces free software but the company is in charge.  With Debian I
> can become *part* of Debian by becoming a developer.  Unless I am
> employed by Red Hat I am not part of it and I am merely another user.
> 6.  Extensive documentation - debian docs are fantastic.
> 7.  The whole system is very well integrated and packages work
> seamlessly.  Just think about it, with 2200 packages it is a great
> thing that things go so smoothly.
> 8.  Powerful package manager - I have heard that dpkg is almost as
> good as rpm.
> The Cons:
> ^^^^^^^^^
> 1.  I still believe (as I had earlier) that the Debian install is
> daunting as compared to the Red Hat install - thanks to 'dselect'.
> Even the upgrade may not be as smooth.  As far as simplicity and
> slickness of install goes I think Red Hat is still much ahead of
> Debian.  But if one is patient one can defintely install Debian.
> Hence for a linux newbie, Debian is not recommended - unless the user
> is savvy enough to read some nice documentation on the install or is
> lucky enough to have a Debian Guru help him/her with his/her
> install. On the other hand for an experienced linux user (or for a
> moderately experienced one like me) the Debian install can be
> reasonably painless - because by this time one knows how important
> reading docs are. :) However I have heard that potato - the next
> release of Debian (maybe 6 months from now?)  will feature a very
> slick front end to the package management and this will make the
> install much simpler.
>         This installation issue is of-course a matter of taste but I
> believe even Debian users will agree with my views here.
> 2.  Debian doesnt believe in using GUI tools to configure everything.
> There are fixed locations to config files and these need to be edited
> (a very simple task) for changing things.  This is a questionable
> point, some may consider this a feature and some may not but I think
> that as far as the newbie user used to Windows machines is concerned
> it may be a problem.  But one which they will get used to and maybe
> even like later on.
>         So all in all I feel that for a person like me who is ignored
> by Red Hat, Debian is the distro to use.   However this in no way
> means that I hate Red Hat.  Red Hat has done a lot of good things for
> linux and will continue to do so.  Their distribution is also very
> nice and well made.  However I still do feel bad at the way I was
> treated.
>         If any of you are on the Red Hat list or know someone
> personally at Red Hat I'd appreicate if you fwd this mail there or
> even relevant parts of it there.  It may be useful feedback for the
> folks there.  Feel free to forward it whereever you feel it may be
> relevant.  Please include my email address so I know what others say.
>         This mail is long - but I believe it is also useful since it
> brings out some important points about Debian.
> prabhu
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"Lurleen, I can't get your song outta of my mind.  I haven't felt this
           way since 'Funky Town'." -- Homer J. Simpson
Sudhakar C13n   http://people.netscape.com/thaths/   Indentured Slave

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