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Re: Are we losing users to Gentoo?

On Mon, 25 Nov 2002 08:22:23 -0800 (PST)
Jon Kent <j_d_kent@yahoo.com> wrote:

> Chaps,
> Another thing I must say is that I object in the
> highest order some the mail sent out regarding this
> topic which basically say good riddance to the users
> who have switch to Gentoo as they caused loads
> problems etc etc.  This is short sighted and I hope
> the people (idiots??) who said this have no leadership
> real role within the Debian developer community.


> What we need to accept is there is a (percieved??)
> problem, or problems, with Debian as it stands today,
> these being (mainly)
> Hard to install (rubbish obviously)

Nono, this is true, and primarily due to boot-floppies. One problem is
that it's quite difficult to work on boot floppies and then get
everything uptodate on the image and everything pointing right, etc.
It's also difficult to build.

debian-installer is much easier to build, is modular and also decouples
the dependencies to some extent to allow more things to be able to "plug
in", which makes it simultaneously more flexible for the person
installing and easier to work on.

Another reason is dselect (now don't start a flamewar on this one; suffice
it to end this part as "many people find dselect hard and unwieldy, and
very inflexible, refusing to work correctly if you try anything remotely
out of the ordinary. Many others find some of its abilities useful, in
particular the fact it presents a list of packages and allows you to see
descriptions."). There are better alternatives. NUFF said, cause we all
know that. 

> Out of date (this _is_ true)
> Slow to update (this _is_ true)
> Hard to configure (depends upon your view-point)
> The reasons I see people switch to Gentoo are :
> Its more fun
> Alot more up to date
> Easier to customise, down to which libraries you want
> to  support
> Gentoo is still hard to configure if you are only used
> to Red Hat or Mandrake, easy if you used to Debian,
> Slackware etc.
> IMHO Debian is too slow to put out new releases.  I
> run testing to ages with no problems, ever.  Sure on
> my unstable box things went south at times but I
> expect that and can fix it, but testing is very solid,
> as solid as, say, Red Hat.
> I'm tempted to say that Debian has gotten too big, has
> too many bosses (to coin a phrase) and is hampered at
> times by its own policy.

This is true; there are far more developers than ever before.
Policy is supposed to follow "best practices" usage, not lead
it (unless a big chunk of developers think some particular thing
is a good idea).

Mainly, there are wayy too many packages, most of them at the 
outer dependency rings (i.e., are leaves, as opposed to things
used by other developers.)

MUCH more help is needed at the core of debian, and especially

> I've been using Debian for years and have seen it
> grown alot over time.  However, it seems to me that
> the only _big_ thing Debian has on its side these days
> is dpkg/apt. 

You're forgetting its reknowned stability.

> Everything else is out of date, a
> nightmare to setup and, to be honest, not fun anymore.
>  I want this to change, but to achieve that I think
> big changes are required from the ground up otherwise
> Debian _will_ go the way of Slackware.

You're aware that a .deb contains elements essentially derived
from slackware (tarball, pre and post install and remove scripts)?

Slackware can learn one hell of a lot from the work done by
debian developers to determine what should happen in these
scripts and what should not. They might even benefit from some
porting of debconf!

> That all said, it will be interesting to see how
> Gentoo copes when it gets larger.  I think it will
> cope better than we have purely because it source only
> and that makes life slightly easier.  We'll have to
> see.

source-only has its ups and downs, of course. Having the user determine
optimization flags is pretty good for users who understand what's going
on; perhaps debian ports representing optimized arches will benefit from
gentoo's work. Other than that, gentoo is simply linux plus userland with
BSD-like "ports" [quoted, because this is different from a debian port.]

> My pennys worth
> Jon


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