This mail is some major rant. I've already ranted in private and was asked several times to move this to debian-devel. I've added some more problems I have detected. Most of the following was discussed either with a bunch of developers and keen people at the Linux Kongress. We currently lack: . Release plans There are only fuzzy plans on what will be released as next Debian release. There are some people who are trying to give slink an update while the majority believes that potat will be 2.2. It is still not clear what will be 2.2 and what will happen if there should be an updated slink called 2.2. Our project leader is affected, though. Some ideas against an updated slink in favour of potato being 2.2: - Confusion as something different than stable, frozen, unstable will be relelased as stable - No defined procedure about what will go in and what not - If an updated slink would be released as 2.2 we must not release potato within the next four months since a stable release needs to live for a while (also to justify the name, stable). - An updated slink will automatically postpone potato and decrease the importance to work on problems with potato. - General change in the way how debian works, without letting the developers vote about it. - Ignore potato in favour of something else will keep potato unreleaseable. . Release goals Officially "we" have decided that we don't want to have release goals anymore. Now there were rumors that all packages will have to be converted to be FHS complient for potato. There still was no public announcement. As a maintainer for several packages, I'm still confused what to do. . Policy changes It is unclear how policy changes affect packages. The changelog within debian-policy*.deb is (imho) not detailed enough to tell Joe Clueless Maintainer what he needs to change in his package other than s/2\.4\.0\.0/188.8.131.52/ in debian/control to create a package complient with the current policy. It's even unclear which policy packages have to support for potato. It's also unclear what will happen to packages that are not policy complient. . Boot-Floppies It's not clear if/who is working on boot-floppies and into which direction we're going. Obviously there is nobody working on it speaking of a general direction, and nobody's about fixing all those darn bugs. Even worse the current boot-floppies are not even compilable or will work on potato if they would be. . Release cycles "We" decided that there will be two releases within a year. (One in spring and one in autumn.) Well, speaking of potato this goal can't be met anymore. Although it's been said that there will be a freeze on November 1st several developers believe that this date is rediculous and impossible to be met. At the current state we won't even have proper boot-floppies. I don't have to say how much that sucks. . Stable subreleases It seems that only very few people care about our stable release. Out of the security team only one person spent brain on it, the ftpmasters only worked on unstable, the new Stable Release Manager worked on something between stable and unstable by forgetting about the stable release. Even though there were common opinions that only security updates are going into stable, there were tons of packages uploaded for it. . Configuration Management We have ben acknowledged that we need to reduce pre/postinst interactions and some proposals have been made that are known as "Configuration Management". pre/postinst questions will interact with a database that is able to contain preconfiguration so cluster installations are easier. We have to face the truth, doing a cluster installation, debian is one of the most difficult distributions. Maintaining a cluster, though, it would benefit of Debian. . Buggy packages Even though there are quite a lot registrated developers (~550 by counting logins) there are over 4000 packages with outstanding bugs. Even though many packages don't seem to be maintained anymore it is still quite difficult to take over them or to rip them off of the distribution. There are also only very few (four) people working on general bugfixing. It's still the case that (too) many people are working on their tiny little packages but miss general tasks while even "old" people are not managing the distribution - as one would have expected. . New maintainers There are a lot of people wanting to become maintainers of some new (often little) packages, often also without a clue. Packages are buggy, partially not well maintained, also for packages taken over. Just adding them to the list of people who are allowed to upload into the main archive will just increase the distribution in size, not in quality. [No new-maintainer bashing please!] I have to acknowledge that Debian has reached the point where it has grown too much and cannot continue as before. At the moment we already have chaos all over with no proper leadership. The next release is months away, boot-floppies are not working, several goals are only slowly getting passed, still it is the bazaar of little cathedrals. Most developers are only working on their tiny five packages or are even entirely inactive nowadays. Only very few people are taking care of general management tasks. Remember this is an association of >500 people. There is still no proper management. Guess what would have happened if it were a company... I believe that this "strategy" will lead Debian into death if we continue as before. Therefore things have to change. Since I'm not a manager either I can't come up proper ideas all the time, and since my time is limited I cannot force people to do the right thing. Processing mail already takes much more time than working on software. Regards, Joey -- The MS-DOS filesystem is nice for removable media. -- H. Peter Anvin Please always Cc to me when replying to me on the lists.
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