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Re: (seemingly) declinging bug report numbers

Christoph Anton Mitterer <calestyo@scientia.net> writes:

> And still sounds like a fork in a respect that forks usually don't
> change everything.

I think of a fork as a permanent division of the code base, with possibly
some importing of code back and forth but with major development happening
independently.  While that has happened for some packages, that's really a
fairly rare case in the Debian/Ubuntu relationship.  (Exactly the way that
most Debian packages are not forks of upstream.)

> But I mean that discussion doesn't help... the question in the end will
> rather be, is Ubuntu becoming a thread to Debian (which it easily can by
> being more of a hype, by having commerical background, by focusing
> pretty much on what's "cool" like tablets and so on)... IMHO there are
> at least some sings for this.

And that seems to be making Debian richer.  We've benefited greatly from
major work that Ubuntu has done in pursuit of some of their goals, such as
multiarch or the PAM configuration system.

> And as second question, whether we're digging our own graves by
> seemingly even supporting that, which involuntarily came to my mind when
> I saw ubuntu-packaging-guides as a package in Debian.  Made me feel like
> the Borg have arrived and are going to assimilate us ;-)

I'm not seeing any signs that Ubuntu actually wants to take over what
Debian is the best at, which is maintaining a very broad range of packages
at high quality.  Notice the number of folks who start doing Debian
packaging because they want to introduce their packages upstream of
Ubuntu, and the number of less-widely-used packages that are maintained
entirely in Debian and just imported into Ubuntu.

Ubuntu has full-time developer resources available to focus on certain
core work, which means they can drive archive-wide changes faster than we
can and can do focused development on specific priorities often easier
than we can.  Having centralized decision-making also helps with both of
those.  But they're not as good at the things that large pools of
volunteers are good at, like maintaining lots of packages that are of
interest to small groups of people.

I think the relationship is fairly synergistic, honestly.

> Cause as I mentioned before... when you do hype things like cloud or
> tablets or apps... you easily can get biggest attraction (also in terms
> of attracting developers away from - potentially - Debian) and support.
> It's however not necessarily the best for free software culture or in
> the end for the good of the users.

Maybe, but I'm not seeing anything clearcut around loss of new developer
talent.  There's a fairly large pool of possible packagers that both
Debian and Ubuntu are drawing on, and a *lot* of people end up doing work
for both.

> Cause eventually, when the masses want, funny nice Apple-like systems
> and software... (which I guess is what we shouldn't want) professional
> and seriously usable systems and software will somehow suffer.

One of the great things about working on Debian is that what the masses
want doesn't need to be particularly important.  I've written about this
before, but I think it's always worth keeping in mind that Debian is not
primarily an entry in a popularity contest.  We don't have to be the most
popular distribution in the world; I, for one, am not working on Debian to
achieve that goal.  I work on Debian to create a Linux distribution that
does the things *I* need, and one of things I love about Debian is the
opportunity to work with other people with similar needs and
collaboratively create the distribution that we want to actually use.

Now, that motive certainly doesn't rule out others!  That's one of the
strengths of Debian: everyone can work on it for their own reasons.  I
have great respect for the folks who are working on aspects of the
distribution that make it more popular.  But, unlike commercial
distributions, we don't *have* to be popular to succeed.  We have a much
broader range of successful outcomes than a business that has to make

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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