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Re: Bits (Nybbles?) from the Vancouver release team meeting

On Fri, Mar 18, 2005 at 12:06:08PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> So, I'd just like to re-emphasise this, because I still haven't seen 
> anything that counts as useful. I'm thinking something like "We use s390 
> to host 6231 scientific users on Debian in a manner compatible to the 
> workstations they use; the software we use is ....; we rely on having 
> security support from Debian because we need to be on the interweb 2; 
> ...". At the moment, the only use cases I'm confident exist are:
> 	m68k, mips, mipsel, hppa: I've got one in the basement, and I like 
> 	to brag that I run Debian on it; also I occassionally get some work out of 
> it, but it'd be trivial to replace with i386.

Aren't the first three of these also actively being used in embedded
applications? (not sure about that one; I'm not /that/ much involved
with embedded stuff)

I can also imagine some hppa boxes being used as test or development
platform in the enterprise. Note that they were still being sold as new
only a few years ago.

> 	sparc, alpha: We've bought some of these a while ago, they're useful 
> running Debian, we'd really rather not have to stress with switching to 
> i386, but whatever.
> 	arm: We're developing some embedded boxes, that won't run Debian 
> proper, but it's really convenient to have Debian there to bootstrap 
> them trivially.

Also note that having a supported port to a processor which is mainly
being used in embedded situations is useful even to people who don't
necessarily use Debian themselves, in that it ensures a level of quality
in the kernel, the toolchain, and Free Software running on that

This is what I would call 'indirect use': people not directly using
Debian, but still benefitting from Debian's efforts on supporting that
architecture. Dropping such architectures would likely result in
GNU/Linux losing popularity in the embedded area -- one of the areas
where GNU/Linux has a great momentum currently.

> 	s390: Hey, it's got spare cycles, why not?

I honestly think it's more than that. s390 systems are way too expensive
for the average hobbyist; only large corporations can afford its price
and power consumption. I would be genuinely surprised if there weren't
one of those enterprises running their website off a Debian VM running
apache, or so.

> None of those are enough to justify effort maintaining a separate 
> testing-esque suite for them; but surely someone has some better 
> examples they can post...

Testing is never interesting for people in many of the above scenarios,
but that doesn't mean we have to drop it.

Debian stable usually /is/ interesting for people in the above
scenarios; but the only way Debian stable can currently reach the
quality it is known for, is by using testing.

Unless you have a different view. And no, unstable snapshots isn't a
workable alternative, IMO.

> The questions that need to be answered by the use case are "what useful 
> things are being done with the arch" and "why not just replace this with 
> i386/amd64 hardware when support for sarge is dropped, which won't be 
> for at least 12-18 months (minimum planned etch release cycle) plus 12 
> months (expected support for sarge as oldstable)". Knowing why you're 
> using Debian and not another distribution or OS would be interesting too.

<http://www.debian.org/users/> lists many of them.

     smog  |   bricks
 AIR  --  mud  -- FIRE
soda water |   tequila
 -- with thanks to fortune

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