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Re: Future of Debian uncertain?

On Thu, Feb 27, 2003 at 04:59:42PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> On Thu, Feb 27, 2003 at 12:12:40AM -0600, Steve Langasek wrote:
> > [...] But while I want Debian to be an empowering operating system
> > that grows with the user, I think any strategy that expects users to
> > also be administrators is a losing one -- no matter how easy we make it
> > to administer that system.

> Who do you think should administer the systems used by random people
> at home?

I think this answer depends on which sort of random people we're talking
about. :)  Are we talking about the kind of home users who flock to
Linux because they *want* to be their own administrators?  Or people who
are drawn to Debian out of concern for freedom?  It is a valid concern
that not everyone that's attracted to Debian is technically adept.  I
just think that if the installer becomes /too/ easy, and we don't have
the appropriate social infrastructure in place, we might end up with
hordes of Debian "administrators" who know how to install the OS, but
don't maintain it responsibly after the fact: we can make apt-get
upgrade easy to run, but how do we make sure the users know they should
run it?  We can make it easy to set up Apache, but how do we make sure
the user understands the responsibilities that come with running a
server on the Internet?

So I suppose my answer is that "the community" would be responsible for
administering these systems; and that if the community is not able to
ensure that they'll be reasonably administered, it might be better if
the machines weren't running Debian.

Today, I don't think this is a grave concern.  But if we make Debian
easier to install, making it more attractive to a wider range of users
with varying skillsets -- who knows?

> > [...] -- but I think the way to do that is by giving those
> > doctors pre-configured systems, not by giving them a box of CDs [...]

> This fails when it's time to do security updates, or an update of the
> entire system; running "apt-get dist-upgrade" will quite happily ask you
> lots of things that Joe User shouldn't need to know. For a doctor, this
> is fine: they can hire a consultant to keep the system up to date. For
> a home user, that doesn't seem as reasonable.

Ah, I was assuming that "a doctor in a third-world country" had the
advantage of an air-gap firewall, making security updates somewhat
unnecessary. :-)  Perhaps the original poster was delineating the third
world differently than I do, though.

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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