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Are we losing users to Gentoo?

Dear everyone in the Debian community,
	The question I want to pose today is "Are we losing users to
Gentoo?" I hate to sound like a marketing departmen drone, but I'm
becoming more and more disturbed since I'm noticing more and more
'random' outbursts on message boards about how 'cool' Gentoo
is. Whatever happened to all the Debian evangelists?

	Whenever someone rants about Gentoo's processor optimisations
and states some overinflated performance boost such as 10%-20%, all I
can do is make a a feeble rebuttal stating that it's more like (insert
low figure without much solid evidence - e.g.. 5%) with exceptions
such as glibc, X, multimedia applications, mozilla and OpenOffice. So
then they counter that it's still an increase. Ok, so what strengths
does Debian have to make a comeback with? Unlike Gentoo, Debian has
quality assurance and security teams. We have a strict policy and bug
resolution procedures. But they won't listen and still say Gentoo.
	Yes, it's a waste of time more often than not supporting your
favourite distribution in web forums, but shouldn't Debian just be
good enough on its own that it speaks for itself? Perhaps this is what
is making Gentoo so popular of a sudden:

/me now points to Gentoo's About page prologue:

> He discovered lots of up-to-date packages that could be auto-built
> using the optimizations settings and build-time functionality that
> he wanted, rather than what some distro creator thought would be
> best for him. All of the sudden, Larry the Cow was in control. And
> he liked it.
	Silly, perhaps, but it still conveys the message that the
Gentoo user is in control. Do the cutting edge enthusiasts in Debian
have the same amount of control? Have we become so complacent at
believing that since we have the some of the strictest policies and
heaviest bug resolution/testing procedures around that we're the best
distribution around that we no longer need to seek improvements?

	I know that there's plenty of logistical/mirroring reasons as
to why we shouldn't duplicate a lot of the i386 tree by creating a
i686 tree, but could we seriously not consider a partial i686
optimised tree as a compromise to attract some of the Gentoo users
back with our strengths in policy and testing? If not, then we need to
find something else to offer to attract the cutting-edge
enthusiast. The worst thing we could do is dismiss this
completely. Remember the days when Slackware and Yggdrasil were the
'elitist's choice'? I certainly don't ever want to see Debian even
come close to sinking.

/me throws in obligatory social contract quote to finish off:

> Our Priorities are Our Users and Free Software
> We will be guided by the needs of our users and the free-software
> community. We will place their interests first in our priorities. We
> will support the needs of our users for operation in many different
> kinds of computing environment.

Yours sincerely,
Andrew "Netsnipe" Lau

PS: Apologies if my rant here is a bit disconcerted, but I've got
exams right now and typed this up fast since I was starting to loose
sleep over it = P

* Andrew 'Netsnipe' Lau                   Computer Science & Sturep, UNSW *
*   "apt-get into it"                        Debian GNU/Linux Packager    *
*     <netsnipe(+)debianplanet.org\0>      <alau(+)cse.unsw.edu.au\0>     *
* GnuPG 1024D/2E8B68BD 0B77 73D0 4F3B F286 63F1  9F4A 9B24 C07D 2E8B 68BD *

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