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Re: on the role of debian among its derivatives

On Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 10:43:44AM +0200, Stefano Zacchiroli wrote:
> At the same time, In doing all that we should not consider Ubuntu as a
> special case, as that would be a mistake. Ubuntu is currently one of a
> kind in term of users, but assuming it will be the case forever is
> risky. After all, who among us foresaw something like Ubuntu coming 10
> years ago? I surely didn't, but Debian was there. Debian will be there
> 10 years from now as well, while I have no idea how many others Ubuntu-s
> will be there or what would have happened to the "current" Ubuntu by
> then.

Ubuntu may not be a "special case" per se, but it is different from (most?)
other Debian derivatives in some important ways.  I think the number of
users is one of the least interesting things about it from a Debian

Things which make Ubuntu interesting among Debian derivatives include:

- Tracking unstable

  This creates more opportunities to share patches immediately

- Independent build infrastructure, toolchain and architecture selection

  This means that Ubuntu may find and fix certain bugs earlier

- Releasing on a schedule

  This makes it easier to know what to expect from Ubuntu at a given time,
  and plan around it

- Open participation and governance

  This means that Debian developers can influence Ubuntu if they want, in a
  range of ways including prodding the bits directly and voting in elections

- Tracking some upstream projects ahead of Debian

  This means that there is packaging work in Ubuntu which Debian will want
  in the future

I don't know how rare these are among today's derivatives, but certainly a
few years ago, this was not how most derivatives operated.  I think it is
worth exploring ways that we can take advantage of these differences.

I don't have an opinion on the DDPO question, but just to use it as an
example: If Ubuntu provides tools and infrastructure to make patches a
little easier to access (we do), and there is a reasonable probability that
these patches would be beneficial to Debian (matter of opinion) then it
makes sense to present this information to Debian developers in an
appropriate way.  If these same conditions were true for another derivative,
the answer would be the same, but as far as I know, Ubuntu is currently a
"special case" in this regard.

In other words, Debian shouldn't regard Ubuntu specially just because it's
Ubuntu, but it absolutely does make sense to work with Ubuntu differently
where it is actually different.

 - mdz

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