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A plea to worry about what matters, and not take ourselves too seriously

Good afternoon,

This message comes on the heels of Sam Hartman's wonderful plea for
compassion [1] and the sad news of Joey Hess's resignation from Debian [2].

I no longer frequently post to this list, but when you've been a Debian
developer for 18 years, and still care deeply about the community and
the project, perhaps you have a bit of perspective to share.

Let me start with this:

Debian is not a Free Software project.

Debian is a making-the-world-better project, a caring for people
project, a freedom-spreading project.   Free Software is our tool.

As many of you, hopefully all of you, I joined Debian because I enjoyed
working on this project.  We all did, didn't we?  We joined Debian
because it was fun, because we were passionate about it, because we
wanted to make the world a better place and have fun doing it.

In short, Debian is life-giving, both to its developers and its users.

As volunteers, it is healthy to step back every so often, and ask
ourselves two questions: 1) Is this activity still life-giving for me? 
2) Is it life-giving for others?

I have my opinions about init.  Strong ones, in fact. [3] They're not
terribly relevant to this post.  Because I can see that they are not
really all that relevant.

14 years ago, I proposed what was, until now anyhow, one of the most
controversial GRs in Debian history.  It didn't go the way I hoped.  I
cared about it deeply then, and still care about the principles.

I had two choices: I could be angry and let that process ruin my
enjoyment of Debian.  Or I could let it pass, and continue to have fun
working on a project that I love.  I am glad I chose the latter.

Remember, for today, one way or another, jessie will still boot.

18 years ago when I joined Debian, our major concerns were helping
newbies figure out how to compile their kernels, finding manuals for
monitors so we could set the X modelines properly, finding some sort of
Free web browser, finding some acceptable Office-type software. 

Wow.  We WON, didn't we?  Not just Debian, but everyone.  Freedom won.

I promise you - 18 years from now, it will not matter what init Debian
chose in 2014.  It will probably barely matter in 3 years.  This is not
key to our goals of making the world a better place.  Jessie will still
boot.  I say that even though my system runs out of memory every few
days because systemd-logind has a mysterious bug [4].  It will be
fixed.  I say that even though I don't know what init system it will
use, or how much choice there will be.  I say that because it is simply
true.  We are Debian.  We will make it work, one way or another.

I don't post much on this list anymore because my personal passion isn't
with posting on this list anymore.  I make liberal use of my Delete
Thread keybinding on -vote these days, because although I care about the
GR, I don't care about it enough to read all the messages about it.  I
have not yet decided if I will spend the time researching it in order to
vote.  Instead of debating the init GR, sometimes I sit on the sofa with
my wife.  Sometimes I go out and fly the remote-control airplane I'm
learning to fly.  Sometimes I repair my plane after a flight that was
shorter than planned.  Sometimes I play games with my boys, or help them
with homework, or share my 8-year-old's delight as a text file full of
facts about the Titanic that he wrote in Emacs comes spitting out of the
printer.  Sometimes I write code or play with the latest Linux
filesystems or build a new server for my basement.

All these things matter more to me than init.  I have been using Debian
at home for almost 20 years, at various workplaces for almost that long,
and it is not going to stop being a part of my life any time soon. 
Perhaps I will have to learn how to administer a new init system.  Well,
so be it; I enjoy learning new things.  Or perhaps I will have to learn
to live with some desktop limitations with an old init system.  Well, so
be it; it won't bother me much anyhow.  Either way, I'm still going to
be using what is, to me, the best operating system in the world, made by
one of the world's foremost Freedom projects.

My hope is that all of you may also have the sense of peace I do, that
you may have your strong convictions, but may put them all in
perspective.  That we as a project realize that the enemy isn't the
lovers of the other init, but the people that would use law and
technology to repress people all over the world.  We are but one shining
beacon on a hill, but the world will be worse off if our beacon winked out.

My plea is that we each may get angry at what matters, and let go of the
smaller frustrations in life; that we may each find something more
important than init/systemd to derive enjoyment and meaning from. [5]
May you each find that airplane to soar freely in the skies, to lift
your soul so that the joy of using Free Software to make the world a
better place may still be here, regardless of what /sbin/init is.

[1] https://lists.debian.org/debian-project/2014/11/msg00002.html

[2] https://lists.debian.org/debian-devel/2014/11/msg00174.html

[3] A hint might be that in my more grumpy moments, I realize I haven't
ever quite figured out why the heck this dbus thing is on so many of my
systems, or why I have to edit XML to configure it... ;-)

[4] #765870

[5] No disrespect meant to the init/systemd maintainers.  Keep enjoying
what you do, too!

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