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

Hi, Russ:

On Thursday 22 July 2010 07:55:52 Russ Allbery wrote:
> Will <ay1244@gmail.com> writes:
> > 1, 2010 at 10:36 PM, Russ Allbery <rra@debian.org> wrote:
> >> This one always boggles me and makes me wonder if we should present
> >> Debian unstable or testing as the "typical" installation.  Debian
> >> testing (and often Debian unstable) is more stable than the
> >> distributions with equivalent up-to-date libraries, and those
> >> distributions generally never offer anything remotely like Debian
> >> stable.  (RHEL is considerably more unstable than Debian stable *and*
> >> has even older software, for example.)


> That's the point.  You have a distribution that works like all the rest
> with the latest and greatest software (often even faster than other
> distributions in some places) AND if you want you can get a wonderfully
> stable distribution that's unlike anything else.
> People who say they don't run Debian because the software it provides is
> too old have no idea what Debian is actually like, and we don't do a very
> good job of educating them.  It's both a better fast-changing distribution
> like Fedora than Fedora and a better stable distribution like Red Hat
> Enterprise than Red Hat Enterprise.  You can pick and still be running
> Debian.

While I see your point, that's wishful thinking.  Sid (or Testing) is *not* a 
better fast-changing distribution than Fedora (it can seem sometimes like 
this because you and me know what should be expectable for both Fedora and 
Sid and understanding this, certainly Sid is usually above that kind of 
expectancies and Fedora is sometimes "a bit too broken" for its own 

But once you forget your expectancies and put yourself under the skin of a 
newcomer, Sid breaks and sometimes breaks hard (no other thing should be 
expected -in fact, I feel sometimes that Sid breaks "too little" because due 
to the fact that so many people use it for practical purposes package 
upgrades tend to be not as much aggressive as it could be otherwise).  A bit 
to a lessen extent the same can be said about Testing.

If anything Sid/Testing could be compared to a "rolling release" distribution 
ala Gentoo or Arch but not to any "fast releasing" like Fedora or Ubuntu.  
And even then their goals are different and as such the expectancies to be 
created: Ubuntu, Fedora or Arch are *products* by themselves while 
Sid/Testing are *tools* aimed to produce a product, which is Stable.  Forget 
that and you'll fastly find yourself in nasty places (i.e.: start "selling" 
Sid as a "Fedora/Ubuntu, only better" and be ready to put on your asbestos 
suit because users will start to yell each time it breaks something -as it 
happens almost daily, and asking yourself "well, since we can't risk Sid to 
be heavily broken sometimes, where do we develop integration for Stable?").


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