Re: apologies and summary. was: Where is Debian going?

Hi giuseppe!

You wrote:

> Since so many serious
> developers out there believe that "Debian is perfect just the way it
> is", I must be wrong, and what I perceive like paradoxes to a closer
> look must reveal as brilliant features.

That was niet was was said. The point is that although we acknowledge
that the current system isn't perfect, we don;t know atm how to
implement a better system. The system you proposed is simplistic and
will not work because of the many complicated dependencies between all
kinds of Debian packages.

> Second, let me just point out that I am a Debian user since Bo (1.3.1?),
> which I installed on my notebook through a home-made Plip cable many
> years ago; since then I have gone through hamm, slink and potato, and
> will switch to Woody one of these days.  And I use Debian for my daily
> work. So I don't think to be a newbie,

Still, you don't seem to know much about how Debian is developped and
why the current stable-testing-unstable system is in place. You must
understand that critisising the current deveopment modell without you
knowing how it works exactly, pisses people of. This effect is magnified

> What scares me is the fact that experienced users around me (academic
> developers as well as sysadmins managing hosts providing services to
> millions of people) after careful thinking and a comparison period discard
> Debian and choose RedHat.

And what's wrong with that? If people carefully weigh the pro and contras
of the different distributions, and decide to go for Redhat or SuSe or
any other distribution, I don't see the problem.

> I don't think they are all short-sighted or
> lazy. Moreover, despite someone's belief that Debian stable is an ideal
> "server distribution", there are many more RedHat linux servers than
> Debian out there. Perhaps, only perhaps, there is a reason.

Apart from the fact that I don't know if this is true, it doesnt matter.
We don't make Debian with the market share in mind.

> I landed on Debian after trying SlackWare and RedHat, and I chose it
> for three main reasons, namely the focus on security and the readiness
> in critical updates; dpkg, and later on apt; the lack of a setup tool
> a la RedHat.  Choosing Debian meant accepting to be "a step behind"
> other distributions, in order to have a strong control on the system.

Potato (with maybe some updates) still works very well, also on the
desktop. 

> Now the step has become a large gap, because the release interval is
> growing longer and longer.

Yes, we consider this a problem too, and we had hoped that the woody
freeze could have been way shorter because of the new package pool
system and the partial freezes. However, the implementation of that
system, as well as the implementation of crypto-in-main and the new
security infrastructure, caused the release to be delayed. Hopefully
woody+1 won't take as long as potato or woody.

> There is nothing evil in this growth, and it
> is not accidental, since the number of packages involved and presumably
> maintainers to coordinate increases rapidly.  It can't be helped.
> What is evil is the fact that very long release intervals automatically
> result in Stable distributions that are already obsolete the day before
> they are released.

This is simply not true.

> I think there is nothing wrong with Branden not including XFree 4.2.x in
> Woody, if he (or the whole Debian universe) thinks it is not upstream-
> or package-mature enough to be of general use. What is wrong is that by
> the time Branden thinks XFree 4.2.x is ready and stable he will still
> have to wait for the next release cycle before he can include it in a
> "stable" release. This could take literally years.

If it were so easy of just replacing the X in woody with a new X, that
would be no problem. The problem is that there are a lot of complicated
dependencies by which we would be forced to update half the
distribution, if we tried to update X. Furthermore, a new upstream
release might introduce a change in the user interaction or the API and
we really don't want to change these things in a stable distribution
(that's why it's called stable). And of course there are the new bugs
that are introduced in a new upstream release.

> One possible escape is splitting the core system from the more or
> less useful corollary software. This could shorten the time between
> releases, but maybe it would be too difficult to decide where to put the
> boundary. (I guess that every single maintainer thinks his packages
> are absolutely essential ;-) Not an easy job for release managers...

You are simply forgetting about the dependencies here.
We already have a little pool of essential and base packages. However,
if those were upgraded, a user wouldn't even notice it, probably, since
they contain nothing like KDE and gnome and Mozilla (and there's were
your problem is, right, not with the older version of slapd in stable?).

> Another solution could be to break the equivalence stable=static, unique
> to Debian.  Currently "stable" is a list of packages whose upstream
> (major) version has been fixed once and for all, and will not be changed
> until next stable release, even when the upstream newer versions are
> much more reliable and sometimes the versions in "stable" have been
> obsoleted upstream.  Sometimes it would be easier to solve a security
> issue by turning to a more recent (and tested) upstream version for a
> particular package instead of patching the stable obsolete version.

Yes of course that would be easier. Also it would most probably
introduce a whole bunch of new bugs and change th user interface of the
application.

> Now, what if "stable" were simply a list of packages blessed as reasonably
> stable and reliable and bug-free, in other words the continuously
> evolving list of "current packages", being defined current a package
> that has traversed "unstable" and "testing" and is ready to be used by
> all Debian users? Why wait for the next release cycle?

> \end{serious}

> Now, since I'm not a maintainer and I'm not subscribed to debian-devel
> and my ideas are not original, I am not entitled to comment on Debian
> and I wasted your time (despite the advice at the very beginning...)
> So please pretend that I have talked about the weather, and have a
> pleasant week-end.

If this is how you feel, why did you even post this message?

--
Kind regards,
+---------------------------------------------------------------+
| Bas Zoetekouw                  | Si l'on sait exactement ce   |
|--------------------------------| que l'on va faire, a quoi    |
| zoetekw@phys.uu.nl             | bon le faire?                |
|    bas@A-Es2.uu.nl             |               Pablo Picasso  |
+---------------------------------------------------------------+

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