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Re: How to make Debian more attractive for users, was: Re: The number of popcon.debian.org-submissions is falling

Wow. This is depressing.

Hans-J. Ullrich wrote:

Group 3: Systemadmins - Yes, there are a lot of sysadmins out there,
who are not able to see the difference between Linux and Windows
server systems. IMO these people will bring the most power into
debian, if you can motivate them.

Without wishing to cast aspersions on your 15 years' experience, I can
tell you that there are a lot of system admins out there who want a
*nix, and I am one, and so are many of our clients. To give you an
example, a recent client ran around 50 fairly chunky servers, with a
file hit rate peaking at 2000 per second. Yes, second. I mention the hit
rate because I want to show they were, and still are, a major site
though I can't mention the name. This was all under linux and needed to
be so, and it was all adminned - as is common, at least amongst the
people we deal with -  by editing files.

Whilst I do not doubt there are many more windows admins to whom a hard
task is finding which box to type the broadcast into - if they even
understand the idea of using a non-default broadcast - you do point out
this class of users could be a tough nut to crack.

I might ask, however, how are you serving *nix admins? A lot easier
bunch to please with Linux I think. I for one have delisted (for the
moment anyway) Debian for our server installations after Lenny, because
I don't like the way it's headed, and I know a number of people who
agree with me. But take a look back at what happens if a system admin
complains about something. There's a lot of "it ain't going to happen"
"you'll have to maintain that yourself". It's not exactly welcoming to
make one's opinion known.

If Debian is serious about attracting new users, I wonder if listening
to the current ones might be a point to start.

Frankly, to my - admittedly cynical - eye, the direction I see Debian
taking is that of Ubuntu. Good for "ooh, shiny" and "by developers, for
developers". Weak on supplying a well-known, well understood
administrative interface. Using files which we can edit over an ssh
session, since our servers are in a colo centre half a day's drive away.

It's all very well wondering about attracting new users, but a
fundamental point to be addressed here is, are those working "at the
coalface" going to "buy in"? (sorry, been talking to mamagement again)
If the response to requests to keep functionality active or to add to it
is going to be "the devs aren't interested, do it yourself" it's
pointless, since most users in the classes you name, and - yes - even
old skool *nix admins like me, aren't capable of programming everything
on their system in every language used by themselves, even if they had
the time. That doesn't mean they don't have opinions about what should
be "in the box" nor that those opinions are worthless.

As has often been pointed out, no-one has the right to attempt to force
what someone does in their spare time, and quite rightly so; but if the
devs are only interested in developing to their own needs, well,
inevitably people will drift to systems they consider more suitable to,
in turn, their needs.

Thanks for bearing with me, especially if you disagree, and HTH.

Chris Jackson
Shadowcat Systems Ltd.

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