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Re: Debian's problems

On Mon, Sep 13, 1999 at 11:51:41PM +0200, Juergen A. Erhard wrote:
> 'Anarchy' is obviously a very bad word for you.  But anarchy != chaos.
> At least not in my world.

I was thinking more along the lines of heat-death of the universe.
The natural way of things is to go into anarchy unless otherwise acted
upon; at least, this is the way I understand it.

> Don't forget that this is a bunch (ok, rather a horde ;-)[1] of
> volunteers.  Whips don't do good in that context (especially given the
> leanings of most hackers I know).

Of course not. We're not saying "Do this, and nothing else" - we are 
saying "Do this, to fulfill this, in addition to whatever else you're
doing, if you would."
>     Joe> 1) People need direction. Very few are good at leading, but
>     Joe> many people are good at following directions.
> There are a lot of sheep, yes... but 99% of the people in Free
> Software are not sheep (or they'd be using Windows).  So, I do *not*
> think that most Debian developers are "good at following directions".

I'm not suggesting that people are sheep. Far from it. I'm saying that
when it comes right down to it, people /don't want to make tough
decisions/, period. Particularly when it affects a lot of people.
It takes a special sort of masochist (the good kind!) to be able to 
make a very difficult decision and withstand criticism for it. That's
why we have elected (or otherwise) leaders; these are people who are
capable of making decisions which affect many.
Following the direction of another does not necessarily mean you are
mindlessly following. (That is a possibility, yes.)

>     Joe> 2) People need limits. If you give someone a centimetre, they
>     Joe> will take it, and anything else they can.
> *aarrrgggh* (I'm biting the wooden table I sit at... lucky for you I
>  don't have my flamethrower here)

Maybe this was out of line. I'm talking about people at large; perhaps
this doesn't apply to most (all?) Debian developers.

>     Joe> Right now, none of that's being done with Debian. It's not an
>     Joe> insurmountable task, either, putting this into our structure.
> Can you spell bureaucracy? (I hope I spelled that right ;-)

Not usually, but a spell checker comes in handy. =)

>     Joe> I really do think that it's a doable thing. It requires some
>     Joe> strong leadership, and some talented individuals, but we've
>     Joe> got that in spades.
> See, I don't have anything against leadership... but your
> understanding of "leadership" is obviously quite the kind of
> "leadership" that I hate.

I'm not suggesting, in any way, that someone declares what goes on.
But I am suggesting, rather strongly, that in order to give direction
to a large group, you have to be capable of sustaining criticism,
of making difficult decisions, and of sticking by your decisions when
you truly believe they're right. A group selects you as their leader
because they believe you can lead; therefore, you must /act/ as their 
leader. This doesn't mean that you tell them what to do, far from it;
it means you tell them what we, as a collective, need to achieve.

> Believe me Joe, you do not even begin to understand the mindset of the
> Free Software developer.[3]

Actually, I think I understand better than you think, only a couple
of misunderstandings spoiled the message I was trying to give.

> Bye, J
> [1] So one could say Debian is hoarding software ;-)

(or software developers ;)

> [2] I did my mandatory military service... and I learned to hate
> "command and obedience" (or however you translate "Befehl und
> Gehorsam"))
> [3] When I began my first real job a few years back, people told me [...]
> Because in my spare time, I can work on whatever I like, in whichever
> way I like, and can release whenever I like.  

That's part of being a Free Software developer (or packager, in many
of the Debian developers' cases.) That doesn't mean, though, that 
it's a free-for-all. You wouldn't suggest, for instance, that any
developer can, at any time, upload to stable; for the same reasons,
we can't do everything and anything we want when it comes to development.

I'm not proposing that Debian turn into a dictatorship; far from it.
I'm simply saying that in order to please everyone involved in Debian,
and still acheive the goals we've set out (or haven't, however the
case may be) that a few limitations (such as developers being strongly
encouraged to close their release-critical bugs in frozen before continuing
development in unstable) and the ability to say "This package/distribution/
what-have-you is complete" will make all the difference in the world. I don't
think that the proliferation of release-critical bugs right now is a problem;
if they are still there say, two or three weeks after we've frozen, and
are not showing signs of decreasing, /that's/ when we should worry.

> Then I understood why a
> lot of people even at the big companies, even after working 10 or more
> hours a day, did their own stuff in their spare time... and you
> *can't* command them around![4]
> [4] Sorry for such a long footnote... ;-)
Nested footnotes! I don't think I've seen that before. ;)

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