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Re: Why does Ubuntu have all the ideas?


Katrina Jackson wrote:

>     I am concerned Debian isn't trying to meet people's needs enough.   

That depends on whose needs you consider. Debian has a much wider target
audience, among them distribution builders such as SkoleLinux or Ubuntu.
It is true that we do not follow the individual end users' needs that
closely, because there are other interests at stake.

> You seem to have so many more people working for you, and you both use
> the same format for things, so it doesn't make sense to me why you can't
> keep up with Ubuntu.    

I can see a number of reasons.

One of them is that Ubuntu developers get paid. That makes a huge
difference, as they can devote a lot more time each day to their work
than, say, a student who also needs to work besides his university
duties to stay afloat, and can only dedicate a few hours on a weekend to

Another issue is, of course, the "mythical man month". If one man can
walk to the next town in half an hour, how long will ten men need to
accomplish that?

> A.  Ubuntu seems like it can get hardware support immeadiatly, but that
> support never seems to quickly get to Debian.   I have been using Ubuntu
> since Debian doesn't wok on my laptop.  Suspend doesn't work and my
> wireless pro  3945ABG doesn't work.  With Ubuntu everything works fine.

This is one of the cases where different interests come into play. A lot
of modern hardware requires binary-only firmware to operate. A
distribution with a clear end-user focus such as Ubuntu can easily
strike a deal with hardware manufacturers to get the necessary
permissions; it may not be allowed to derive a distribution from Ubuntu
that also includes these drivers as the license on them prohibits

Debian cannot ship these, as it would violate the Social Contract. While
this is a downside for end users, it is a big win for derivers, who do
not need to evaluate all the licenses for the software they ship again,
as all the necessary freedoms must be granted for a piece of software to
be included at all.

> B.  Ubuntu members not only support mailing lists and IRC but suport
> user forums which are so much more user friendly and don't fill up your
> mailbox.

My definition of "user friendly" seems to be different from yours then.
:-) I have so far not seen any forum software that will allow me to read
 or reply offline, or delete entire subthreads that are of no interest
to me. Basically, most forum implementations have been bad reinventions
of email and Usenet, with the additional disadvantage that each of them
also implemented an user interface that was slightly different from each
of the others, and thus presents a new learning challenge. That each
forum also requires additional login credentials is not helping either.

> C.  You seem to worry only about packaging.  You push people to
> package.  But you don't focus on making your OS better.  Ubuntu has made
> so many nice features for their OS that you don't seem to do.  I really
> don't know why.   I think you need to emphsise less packaging and more
> focus on making your current OS better for people.  Why does Ubuntu have
> to have all the great ideas for their users?  One example:  They have a
> pop up telling you updates are ready.  Now maybe you now have this
> feature, I don't know, but I see great ideas like this every six months
> with Ubuntu, and I see nothing from debian.  Except apt, but man, one
> nice thing a decade is pretty slow.

The update notification is there, provided you have it installed, use
the GNOME desktop and have it activated. Ubuntu does this by default,
because if you use Ubuntu, you will use the GNOME desktop, and if you
have administrative privileges, you are going to be interested in
updates. In Debian, it is assumed that an user does not have admin
rights at all, so there is no real point in unconditionally showing the
update notification. So again, target audience.

> E.  Going back to the last statement, I could write an entire email on
> how people think you guys are so unapproachable and so down right mean
> to users who make these suggestions.

Quite a lot of these suggestions are optimizations for specific use
cases that affect other use cases negatively. When we add a tool that
allows an ordinary user to change wireless settings (which does, of
course, make sense on a laptop system), we also have to add provisions
that this tool is not installed without the administrator's knowledge,
or it would give out privileges to users that are not supposed to have
them. When we do that, we usually add a question at installation time
whether you want this tool to be available to everyone. If we made that
part of a "standard" system installation, everyone installing Debian
would be confronted with this question.

Unfortunately, most suggestions we receive belong into this category.

> E.  Mr. Hess has a nice supermarket argument but can't see that Debian
> needs to steal a few things from Ubuntu, ie it goes both ways.  

Not quite. Ubuntu's big advantages are specifically in places where it
has been adapted to specific use cases; stealing those would lead to the
exact same problems that I outlined above under "taking suggestions".

> The reason why Ubuntu is more popular than you is they honestly focus
> their attention on making their users happy.

Well, quite a lot of our users are happy with the way it is, precisely
for the reasons that make Debian "difficult" to use -- the lack of
helpers that have unexpected side effects when your deployment deviates
from the norm.

> Unfortunatly I think you just aren't smart enough to read
> the writing on the wall that there is a reason Ubuntu has been for a
> while now such a more popular distro then us.

Yes, it's called "marketing".


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