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Future of Debian uncertain?

Hi people

I write this email hoping that some of the people who make final decisions for the Debian project will read it, that's why I write to this list.

Have you read the review of Debian 3.0 at http://www.debianplanet.org/node.php?id=831

I'm quite new in Debian but I like it a lot, I really do, but been honest I find 90% true this review. So I'm worried about Debian's future. I believe Debian is the best OS and I'm very proud of use it at work and at home. I also believe that it represents the living proof of a new, viable, fun and more productive organization of work. At least that's what I used to think until I realized how very few people are attracted to Debian these days.

I live in a small country, but our linux community is growing fast, we are hundreds now, I know many from our discussion forum, yet only 2 or 3 of us use Debian (or Debian based distros). Everybody loves RH, Suse, and Mandrake. Even the most advanced users prefer RH for servers because it's the distro they know well and is widely used. I can't recommend Debian to my friends, cause nobody wants to spend 2 or 3 days hand tweaking the system, only to get to the point where commercial distros leave you 30 min after you put the install CD.

Personally there are a few things I hate about Woody and I would like someone to tell me why these so easy to solve issues are still around. For example:

1-The installation process almost always misses to recognize sound cards and network. But ironically, Debian CDs include Kudzu, which have always worked fine for me detecting and configuring these devices once you have manually installed it with dselect. Isn't that dumb? Now that there is knoppix available I don't see any reason for Debian not having a real first class installation system with a very good hardware database.

2-After you install the desktop environment with tasksel the gnome fonts are "BIG". Took me a day to figure it out how to change that.

3-All the bash limits are set by default to unlimited except the stack limit, which is set to 8 Mbytes. This make programs which work with big arrays in memory to die with a laconic "segmentation fault". Took me almost a week to discover this one, after I stripped out a large scientific program seeking for an "invisible" bug in the code, not having a clue it was a system issue. I wonder how many scientists have tried Debian for extensive computer calculations and having encounter this same problem have simply switched back to another distro.

4-Finally but most important: What happens that you haven't included kde3 even in unstable until a few days ago? Why so many packages are so out of date?

I have heard that a bug problem in libc6 is the cause of this delay, but I don't see Knoppix or Suse hanging every day, and they do have the last soft, so they have found a way to circumvent this problem. Why can't Debian do the same?

I have also been told that Debian supports eleven architectures. That's really great! But if this prevents from having the last software available in an official repository for the arch that 95% of people use, then I think something have to be done. One obvious solution could be to allow the development for different architectures to diverge temporally. Maybe you need to create another classification scheme a little more complex than the usual stable, testing and unstable. I would propose something like: Stable_arch-independent, Stable_arch-dependent, Testing, Mixed and Unstable. Where Stable_arch-independent would be what stable is now, same soft for every arch. Stable_arch-dependent would be the most stable branch with the latest soft and libraries versions that have proven stable for a particular architecture. Of course, Testing, Mixed and Unstable have to be arch-dependent too. Testing would be pretty much what it's now. But Mixed would be a kind of mix of a testing debian system with the very latest soft compiled on the fly with a system like the one Gentoo has. I understand that Debian has some tools to generate a .deb package from sources using a custom script, so it shouldn't be so difficult to add dependency resolution capabilities to this system, and make this beauty available in Debian too.

Being new and inexperienced I have a high probability of been talking nonsense with this new schema stuff. But my point is that someone with the expertise and good ideas has to come up with something new that could help Debian to follow a new paradigm: easy of use, good look and latest soft without sacrificing its current strengths.

One would get the impression that Debian is now a bit bureaucratic and reluctant to changes. Maybe it is not, but that's how it feels like for a newcomer. I wonder how decision making is conducted in Debian? Is there a guy (or a closed group) who take decisions like the holding back of so many new soft, because of the libc6 issue? How can we (the users) participate in the decisions of really important matters? Is Debian a democracy? (I hope so)

If somebody is gracious enough to give me some answers I would appreciate it a lot, and perhaps I can recover my faith :-)

I have said all I feel. I hope it's understood I only want Debian to get better. I also hope that my lack of knowledge in some issues could be forgiven together with my poor English.


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