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Improvements to Debian

Dear fellow developers,

   It has come to my attention that Debian is not as successful as it
once was. For the Debian Project to reclaim its position as the
natural leader of software distribution, we must be willing to look at
others who have been more successful than us in recent time, and be
willing to learn from them. It has become obvious in recent months
that the Debian Project is falling behind Freshmeat.net; in fact there
is now a majority of software available on that site which is not
present in Debian.

   If we were to look at the ``warez'' community for example, we would
realise that they release much more often than we do, and are
generally held in higher regard than we are. There are a number of
things which we can do to learn from their experiences. I realise that
some of these might be painful for us to accept, but we must be
willing to move forward.

   The Debian unstable suite is not working as well as it once was. I
propose that we rename it as soon as possible as the ``0-dayz''
distribution. This would be effective in communicating to our users
that this software is new, and that if they happened to be using other
distributions, they would not be able to run this software. This
should be enough to make Debian more exclusive than Gentoo again, and
would get users who may have drifted away to switch back.

    A number of you will object that this scheme could not possibly
work, as some packages currently take a long time to be placed into
this ``0-dayz'' distribution. This is mainly due to lazy maintainers,
but can easily be fixed. The simple introduction of upload ratios on
ftp-master would be enough to fix this problem. Running lintian on
packages as they are uploaded by people wanting to download the newest
available software on the 0-dayz distribution, would be more than
adequate to ensure that Debian retains the high quality of packages it
now enjoys. The Debian QA Team would then adjust people's upload
ratios based on the quality of the packages they had uploaded.

   Simple changes like renaming the old ``unstable'' distribution is
not enough however, and we must be willing to do more. My next step is
to propose that we merge together the Debian Mirrors Team, and the
FTP-master team, and have them known simply as ``couriers''. Any
Debian Developer with a ``phat pipe'', would be allowed to join such a
team, provided their nickname sounded futuristic enough.

   Another one of the main issues facing Debian is the lack of general
user-friendliness. A number of people have commented over the years
that they would like to have more graphics in the install process as
it would render Debian friendlier to new users. This could be done
very simply through the introduction of mandatory ASCII art in each
package's control file, as well as the introduction of a debian/gr33tz
file which could be displayed on installation. Of course,
lintian/linda checks would be added to ensure that those files always
contain enough ASCII art in them.

   This however, is not enough to make Debian user-friendly, and we
should be going further, which is why I also propose that we change
policy to force all packages in base to come with a ``demo''. This
should take less than 20kbytes, and be preferably coded in ASM. This
would of course also be done in ASCII to ensure that people using
serial consoles would still get the full benefits offered by Debian,
and would be displayed by apt-listchanges on installation and

   While these changes would modify the way in which people view and
use Debian, we must take care to also take steps to make Debian the
best distribution technically. A change which is now very overdue is
the removal of tar usage in dpkg. This could be replaced entirely with
rar, which would also have the effect of encouraging people to make a
free version of unrar available, thereby also lowering the utility of
the non-free section. To provide backwards compatibility, we would
rename the `.deb' format to `.debz'. This change could be placed in
dpkg v3 so that all future versions of Debian are able to function
properly. A `.debz' archive would of course be a zoo archive of rar
sub-components to leverage the advantages of two different compression

   Finally, we should be moving forward to split all packages in
conveniently-sized 1.44Mb packages for ease of use and transfer across
secure-sneaker nets, which are generally believed by experts to be the
way of the future. This would also allow us to add a password
restriction on the last chunk of the base distribution. The password
would simply be found on the second word of the third paragraph on the
linux counter page, after a valid vote for Debian had been registered.

   All these changes taken together would ensure a much more concrete
foundation for Debian, which would allow us to release a new stable
version of Debian every 6 to 8 months.


Pascal Hakim
Do Not Bend

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