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"Social Contract GR's Affect on sarge" or "Debian commits suicide"

I can't believe I'm reading this. Such an abrupt
change in policy at this point in time, having long
previously granted exemptions on these matters, goes
well beyond idiocy and incompetence on the part of our
inappropriately titled and clearly failed "Release
Manager", but smacks of conspiracy - the use of a
seemingly innocuous GR, the "apparent" implications of
which were deliberately left obscure (despite now
protestations to the contrary), to change the
conditions of the release at the last possible moment.

Now, if Debian wishes to take the time to meet its new
standards post-Sarge, then that seems quite
appropriate - my disagreement is not with your
principles, or even their interpretation (well, the
firmware issue I'm split on personally). But with
Woody ticking towards the 2 year mark, useless on much
new hardware, to delay for another year would be
suicide as a project. DEBIAN HAS TO RELEASE. Many
people don't want to use Testing and Unstable - they
want the quality they've come to expect from the
Stable releases. That so many people, including the
"Release Manager", fail to grasp this point suggests
that they really don't give a damn about their users.
They probably don't use Woody, so another delay is all
very abstract to them.

Even for developers who don't use Woody, such a delay,
after being told that Sarge was imminent for most of a
year now, must be INTENSELY frustrating. What happens
now? Add amd64? Multiarch? Transition to GCC 3.4?
Kernel 2.6 as the default? Surely GNOME 2.6, heck 2.8,
will make the release now. Or do we toe the line and
release a hopelessly stale Sarge? What a choice.
Confusion reigns while we fight it out. Good job, AJ!

The solution to all of these problems is actually very
simple. Follow the policy that has been promulgated up
until now, i.e. sarge-ignore on select issues,
including the GNU FDL and firmware, and after Sarge
deal with them. Debian gets a release out, and we
serve the needs of the users. Then start the Great
Cleansing. Is it so important that it must happen
right now? No, no it's not.

If the leadership doesn't agree, and doesn't consider
it appropriate to make clear to the developers the
consequences of the GRs and the uses to which they
will be put (which is just plain sleazy), then the DDs
need to take whatever means is available to assert
sanity. Another GR is a pain, sure, but far less
trouble than a Summer 2005 Sarge release, delighting
the seven users of Stable that are left. If that
thought doesn't trouble you, then it should. Maybe
it's time for a new Release Manager as well, one who
is capable of making releases. Actually, I think
Debian as a whole could use a bit of a shakeup at the
top, since the Project is clearly adrift, but that's
not an issue to be dealt with now.

Tim Healy

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