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Re: support for merged /usr in Debian

Russ Allbery writes ("Re: support for merged /usr in Debian"):
> What will kill Debian faster than anything else is to have every idea for
> changing something large, interesting, or possibly revolutionary in Debian
> be met with anger, derision, and attacks.

I know you are engaging in hyperbole, but really, I think this is
quite unjustified.

While there is much that I agree with in your message, particularly
about the relationship between maintenance, creativity and fun, I
think you're way off the mark in the paragraph I quote above.

In the last few years I have embarked on a campaign to change the way
Debian manages its source code.  Of course it's just me, and even so
it's only getting some of my own effort, so it's not going as rapidly
as it could.

But I have had, in general, good support from almost all quarters.
Almost no-one has tried to discourage me, and there has been no anger,
derision, or attacks.  The main limiting factor has been my own
available effort, and the complexity of the task.

Why do you think I have had such an `easy ride' ?  I doubt it's
because I'm popular and everyone just naturally wants to help  me.

It sees to me that it is because:

* I haven't been giving talks (or writing mailing list messages or
  manpages) where I attack people's beloved tools, data formats, or
  source code management practices.  I could certainly give such
  talks, but it would just serve to make me (more) enemies.

* The new mechanisms I am developing and implementing are designed, on
  a technical level, to interoperate with existing systems.

* Insofar I foresee that anything that currently exists may eventually
  be obsoleted, I am avoiding talking about it (except perhaps if you
  catch me in the bar or the pub).  In large part this is because I
  recognise that existing things should be deliberately removed only
  when the their users and developers will be happy with the

In short, I haven't been throwing my weight around.

I could mention a couple of other projects in Debian that are fairly
big changes: source-only uploads, and reproducible builds.  It seems
to me that the folks doing those exciting and worthwhile projects are,
in general, getting support and encouragement from the project as a

Even multiarch, which is very complicated and was fiercely contested
on the technical level, has now made it in and even involved
relatively low levels of aggro - even though on a technical level we
are even now still working through some of fallout.

It is true that all of these projects are taking years to come to
fruition.  But doing things carefully and with proper transition
planning means that Debian as a whole can be changing many things all
at once.  The lead time is long but our productivity is high.

I think that people who want to change Debian should take care to:

  - Communicate respectfully;
  - Ensure technical interoperability between different
     approaches and different tools;
  - Carefully plan necessary transitions;
  - Approach change in a consensual manner;
  - Particularly, avoid hostile acts like publicly declaring
     other people's code or configurations dead or unsupported.

It is not necessary to declare other people's code or configurations
dead in order to make progress.  New things can sit alongside old
things.  Eventually the new things will be overwhelmingly popular
because they are better, and no-one will want to work on the old
things, which can then wither away.  And if the old things don't
wither away because a few people still want to maintain them, well,
fine - that's them exercising their software freedom.


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