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Re: Why not only support Sid and Testing?

Joseph Smidt wrote:

> I know I am in for an argument, but I think it is a good
> question.  I'm sure many of you have read Mark's blog:
> http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/56.  It says 76% of Debian
> users run unstable and probably a fair fraction of the rest run testing.

What percentage run stable?  (Hint - the sum of that and the unstable
users may total > 100%.)  I have one workstation running unstable
(because it's an amd64), one running stable with an unstable chroot, a
physics analysis cluster running stable, and a home computer running
stable (because my wife hates it when things break on upgrade).

> 	I think we all really love running unstable. It is very fun
> because it is exciting and sometimes unpredictible.

On a computer used for playing or for maintaining Debian packages, this
is fun.  On a cluster supporting other users, or a computer behind a
modem, or a computer that needs to have a reliably constant base of
installed software, definitely not.  Forgive me if I put words in your
mouth, but you seem to have the impression that typical Debian users
have only a single desktop machine that they enjoy upgrading, breaking,
and fixing.  Maybe this was true 10 years ago, before GNU/Linux had any
recognition as a professional operating system.  Now, at least for a
significant minority of users, this is not the case.

> 1. Those who maintain Debian love unstable.  It is the OS that offers the
> most freedom.  Maintaining a Stable and Oldstable seem to distract from the 
> focus of an ever evolving Unstable.  I have an email from a developer I
> will not name that says he/she is not looking forward to having to
> maintain multiple versions of the same package in several different
> Debian snapshots when he/she could be worrying about one.

As far as Debian is concerned, a developer does in fact only have to
worry about one version of the package - the one in unstable.  (If s/he
wants this package ever to enter testing or stable, there are additional
constraints - but these constraints mainly involve having no RC bugs,
which packages should not have anyway.)  Granted s/he can put forth
additional effort to maintain a backport, or to help the security team
with security fixes, but these are optional on his/her part.

I recognize that said developer may have an employer who wants the
package maintained on other Debian versions too.  But in that case, said
developer is at least getting paid for the work of doing so.

> 2.  Testing would be a better distro.  The time and effort that goes
> into Freezing, maintaining Stable and Oldstable, could be pulled into
> making testing a better distro for those who want new software, without
> the risk of running Unstable.  Those who enjoy trying to live on the
> bleeding edge, who don't want to bleed to death.

Testing is updated continually and there are many people who need a
stable platform with only minimal changes (security fixes) that can be
relied on to last for a year or more.

> 3.  The freeze seems to cause more stress then happiness.

Depends upon who you ask.  I am very happy that Debian produces a stable
reliable platform every 1.5 - 3 years.  I am more than willing to trade
off the annoyance of having to deal with coordinated library
transitions, a few months' freeze, etc.  The release managers surely get
a lot more stress from it than I as a "normal" DD do; but on the other
hand, the release must make them correspondingly more happy, or else
(being volunteers) they would work on something else.

> 4.  Let's face it, it does both Debian and Desktop users who want a
> constantly updating, "Easy as Windows to use", stable distro a favor to
> send them to Ubuntu.  Debian will stop getting harassed how Ubuntu's
> stable is so much nicer for users then Debian's.  On the other, it does
> them a favor to go where life is made easier for them.  (I am not saying
> Ubuntu stable is better then Debian's Stable, just the type of users who
> like a "training wheels" distro that has stable updates every 6 months
> is never going to be happy with Debian's Stable and Debian could do
> better off not having them harassing Debian over everything they like or
> dislike)  Send them to Ubuntu, and let them come back when they want to
> run an Unstable style system.  Very, very few Ubuntu users run their
> "Unstable" snapshot.  Those types of people should be sent here.

If your main point here is that people who complain a lot prefer
Ubuntu/stable over Debian/stable, then I hope you are right; that's fine
with me!  But I don't see how this supports your argument to dump

Did you mean to imply that Ubuntu/stable is an acceptable replacement
for Debian/stable?  At least for me, this is not true.  Most Ubuntu
stable releases are only supported for a relatively short time, which is
not long enough for me; and most Ubuntu packages are in "universe" where
(AFAIK) they only get support in a stable release on a "best-effort"
basis by a small and overworked MOTU team.


Kevin B. McCarty <kmccarty@princeton.edu>   Physics Department
WWW: http://www.princeton.edu/~kmccarty/    Princeton University
GPG: public key ID 4F83C751                 Princeton, NJ 08544

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