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Re: Survey on Debian usage

On Tue, Apr 20, 2004 at 02:51:24PM +0100, Enrico Zini wrote:
>  * Enrico's survey on Debian usage - April 2004

* Survey

- Q: Are you a:  (note: you may choose more than one)
     [ ] Debian developer, or otherwise involved in contributing to Debian
     [X] Free software developer
     [X] User, using Debian for: _work and fun and server_
     [ ] Other: __________________________________

- Q: Could you please provide one or two typical episodes (whatever you feel
     like) of your life with Debian?

- Q: Could you please provide one or two fantasy episodes of your life with
     Debian, if you were to make a movie or a comic strip about yourself as a
     Debian protagonist?

- Q: What Debian distribution are you using?

stable, unstable and testing, but mostly testing.  Stable on servers, and
for compiling packages for stable.

- Q: What do you think people use Debian for?

Mostly for servers, but also for workstations.

- Q: What is the thing you most frequently use Debian for?

Well, I use it for essentially all my computing (although I do have an iMac
at home, right next to my laptop running debian), so basically I use it for
whatever computing I do.  Mostly this consists of code development, email
and web browsing.

- Q: What do you think is the most INTERESTING aspect or feature of Debian?

The ease with which packages can be installed and upgraded.

- Q: Are there some aspects or features of Debian that do not satisfy you?

Mostly the slow release cycle.  At work we are running testing on almost
all our machines, since there have been major improvements since woody in
packages we use (e.g. octave), but for work computers, we'd be much better
served by stable, if only it weren't so old, since then we would only be
getting security updates and wouldn't have to deal with issues like the
recent gnuplot breakage on upgrade (fixable by installing gnuplot-x11).

- Q: What do you think is the most USEFUL aspect or feature of Debian?

Same as interesting (above), since I'm interested in its usefulness...

- Q: Is there something you especially like doing with Debian?  What is it?

I like teaching new users to use debian (it's happened a couple of times in
the last month or so).  They are always impressed by how easy it is to
install and upgrade packages.

- Q: Is there something you DO NOT like doing with Debian?  What is it?

I don't like upgrading kdm or gdm.  They both have massive configuration
files, and graphical utilities that modify the configuration files, so when
I upgrade I get a conffile message and have to try to figure out if my old
configuration will still work, and if not, how to move my changes into the
new one.  Perhaps if the conffile shipped with debian didn't have all the
useful comments?

- Q: What is the MOST SUCCESSFUL deed you have achieved with Debian?

Hmmmm.  Probably the composition of a duet that is written on a single
staff, played right-side-up by a violin and upside-down by a cello... Which
really has very little to do with debian, but was very fun (and typeset
with lilypond).  And yes, I am being a bit silly, it's hard to come up with
something that particularly successful that is debian-specific.  Perhaps
the development of a photonic crystal structure with a layered structure
having square symmetry within each layer and a full 3D photonic bandgap?
All the work for that was done on debian--even down to using mpb (MIT
photonic bands), which is included in debian, for the calculations.

- Please take a moment to recall what is the WORST INCIDENT you had
  with Debian.

  Q: What was it?

I'd have to say it was the time I managed to create a /etc/nologin file
some time after booting up.  I learned a whole lot about PAM as a result,
but had a rather nervous few days, since I couldn't log in again after
logging out, so I had a gradually diminishing number of virtual terminals
available in which to work.

  Q: How did you get into it, and out of it?

I'm not sure how I got into it.  I originally had a LinuxPPC installation
on my Mac, and morphed it into debian in an entirely unrecommended manner
(this was back in potato)... think untarring base tarballs on a working
linux distribution.  So I had a "sort of" debian distribution, and somehow
(I didn't ever figure out how) I created the nologin file.  After much
reading about the internals of PAM, I read about the nologin option (or
module?) of PAM, and then looked and saw the file sitting there.

- Imagine you have a crystal ball allowing you to see 10 years in the
  future, and have a look inside.  
  Q: Will you still be using Debian?

Of course.

  Q: If yes, what will you be doing with it?

Managing my research group's computers.  I'll be professor by then, and
probably have five to eight students and postdocs, so we'll have a few
central servers and everyone's workstation running debian.  Hopefully by
then there will be a decent free queuing system available, so we'll be able
to easily run jobs on any computer which doesn't happen to be busy.

In my spare time, I'll probably still be working on darcs (my free software
project), which should be pretty mature, but I also would guess I'll have
less spare time in ten years (perhaps even kids to spend it on).

- Q: Finally, please feel free to leave any feedback to Debian Developers

David Roundy

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