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Re: Why does Ubuntu have all the ideas?

On Fri, Aug 25, 2006 at 11:46:20AM +0200, Mgr. Peter Tuharsky wrote:
> I cannot 100% agree with You, althought Your point is for sure partially 
> valid.
> I really don't believe that Debian can equal itself with Ubuntu in terms 
> of user friendliness. There is so much to say about that, that I hardly 
> can remember the very concrete cases, so please don't attack me on that 
> basis. I use Debian for 4 years now and my impression about it is valid, 
> because is based on facing and (if lucky) fixing problems. Many of them 
> I have happily forgotten right after fixing, but the allround impression 
> about Debian's user friendliness remains.
> 1, Ubuntu places the care about the average-Joe-user at first place at 
> worst. Debian dosen't.

That's true, but this is improving.

Moreover, Debian tries to cater for everyone, rather than just "the
average Joe-user". We're not there yet, especially not in case of "the
average Joe-user", but personally I prefer to have a focus on more than
just one small subset of people.

> 1a, Often it seems that ideological problems put anything else aside.

There are cases where this is true, but they are more of the exception
than the rule.

This is also true for Ubuntu, BTW. They, too, separate free software
from non-free software.

> I don't tell the ideology is not valid; I just tell that often this is
> in the state "Users, wait until we solve this ideologically, it may
> take some years". Well, user dosen't have the years and need things
> working, so he either does it himself (if he is sortof admin) by
> downloading, compiling etc, or says "Things don't work in Debian and
> it's too difficult to solve it. I'll better stick with XYZ".

Can you give a concrete and extensive example of this? It's hard to
discuss such things with hypothetical scenarios.

> Others care about ideology too, but by the time MAKE THE THINGS WORK 
> SOMEHOW as painless as possible for the end user, until the ideologists 
> say their last word.
> Simple examples: Mplayer, codecs, M$ True Type fonts, Java, flash.

Mplayer can be installed easily by adding the right line to your
sources.list. It's all over the internet. Same goes for codecs.

Besides, mplayer is starting to get increasingly obsolete. There are
less and less things that cannot be played by either gstreamer or xine.
Which both have a *much* saner design, too.

True type fonts and flash have nice installer packages that will
download and install the stuff for you. What's the problem?

In case you missed it, there is now a java package in non-free for
unstable. Once etch releases, it will be in stable. Obviously we cannot
go ahead and change stable after the fact; but installing Java on a
Debian stable system is no harder than it is on a RedHat or Ubuntu or
Fedora or whatnot system. In fact, because of java-package, it's
actually easier to manage and uninstall if that ever becomes necessary.
I _really_ don't understand what your problem is here.

Do you actually have a real and founded gripe, or are you just trolling?

> 1b, If things don't work, it's sometimes hard to get them working 
> either. Example: Bug 372719. The OOo 2.0 keeps crashing for 2 months 
> thank to KNOWN bug in security upgrade. Now tell somebody, that Debian 
> is as good _for_average_Joe_user_ as Ubuntu. Or that Debian cares about 
> average_Joe_user at least as much as Ubuntu does.

I can't comment on this; I'm writing this on the train, so have no
Internet access currently.

However, I will add that I haven't seen this bug on the stable systems
that I run; even though that of course doesn't have to mean anything, it
is at least an indication that the bug is not everywhere, and that it
may be a problem to track it down.

> Of course that there always will be bugs. It's normal in evoluting 
> project; We are mankind and always do mistakes. However, facing them and 
> solving (or not solving) makes a picture about our priorities and goals. 
> In case of Debian, average-Joe-user for sure is not a priority; jokes aside.

Actually, our social contract shows that they are.

> 1c, Other cases are when something CAN be done in Debian, and even 
> documentation exists, but it is quite complicated and time consuming, 
> and truly should be much easier. Mostly the installer's playground to 
> make life easier and set up things. For example, to automatically 
> install national fonts and translation packages if the user already 
> entered his location and national data.
> I use K3B and has been ready to contribute the Slovak translation. Only 
> on K3B's site I realised that translation exists. Then I have found the 
> k3b-l18n package, and whoila, K3B is localised.
> And so on.

There is an infrastructure to support a fully i18n'ed environment upon
installation. It uses language-based tasks, and the installer will
install the task of the language you've used in the installer upon
completion of the installation. If you chose to install the desktop
task, it will also install the desktop-$language task (or was it
$language-desktop? not sure, doesn't really matter).

k3b actually has a "suggests" header for k3b-i18n. This means that if
you install k3b using a frontend such as apt-get or aptitude, it will
tell you up-front that there is a k3b-i18n package. They are separate
from eachother because k3b-i18n takes 15.2 MB when installed, whereas
k3b itself takes only half of that; some people may therefore prefer not
having k3b translations installed.

> 2, The current software gets into main distribution too slowly, too too 
> slowly. Yes, of course, stability, security..

"too" is a very subjective thing. I actually prefer not having to plan,
test, and execute upgrades every half year.

> Think about, say, Mozilla Firefox. We keep in repository some 1.0.3 
> version? (I don't really know, I prefer using current stable release, 
> this time

1.0.3 *is* stable. And supported, if only by Debian.

> I doubt that mozilla.org supports either way that ancient version. Is it 
> even possible to keep track with _all_ security and stability updates 
> and backport them to that version? I really doubt.

It is being done.

> I can imagine, that the Debian's 1.0.3 version is no way more secure nor 
> stable than standard

It is not a matter of "being stable"; it is a matter of providing people
a stable _platform_ upon which to build a network and an infrastructure.
This is possible with Debian Stable and its current policy; it would not
be possible if we were to update Debian Stable for every major package
that is updated "somewhere else".

However, if you want that, there is something called "backports.org"
where you can download newer versions of packages, in case the version
in stable is too outdated for your taste. Of course, that does mean that
you may also introduce new bugs; but if you can live with that, why not?

> We should, for certain kinds of software, shorten the release cycle to, 
> say, 6 months.

You seem to think that it is possible to do this without having to
change the lower layers upon which you compile the software. This is
wrong. Newer versions of applications often require newer libraries to
support them, which in turn may also require newer versions of some
other packages. This is a very slippery slope.

Again, there is backports.org which tries to provide you with selective
upgrades of particular packages that upgrade only the absolute smallest
amount of packages required to support the new software. If you think
that's useful, you're absolutely welcome to use it.

> Debian can afford the luxury of keeping the basic system 
> infrastructure for 18 months, however the desktop software grows very 
> fast,

That is true. Does that mean everyone should upgrade just like that?

> user's often depend on its functionality (OpenOffice.org import
> capabilities to mention some),

Not necessarily.

> and it's nearly impossible to maintain that old software in meaningful
> way.

Mind if we decide about that for ourselves?

> And who will ever use that ancient versions at the end.. Especially
> painful in the end time of release's lifecycle.

Have you ever talked to someone who has to maintain, say, a network of
20.000 nodes?

[...lots more trolling snipped...]

It is clear how you think about Debian. It is useful for an average
"Joe-user". Maybe not as much as Ubuntu; that is certainly true.
However, Debian does not *need* to be Ubuntu. It can certainly use
improvements in some areas (and these *are* being worked on; however
help is surely always welcome). One thing to remember, though, is that
the core things that make Debian what it is today and make it strong --
long release cycles providing long-term support; high degree of
customizability; low number of things that get in your way; and above
all, the virtual guarantee that if something makes it to Debian Stable,
it *will*just*work* -- should not be thrown out the window in the name
of "supporting the average Joe-user". There is no good reason to do so.

<Lo-lan-do> Home is where you have to wash the dishes.
  -- #debian-devel, Freenode, 2004-09-22

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