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Re: [linux-audio-dev] Poll: Distro for audio and MIDI development

(sorry for moving the discussion, but I really only want to add something about my experience as a support-line for a few hundred AmigaOne users this past year).

Also, this posting is a bit long and posted a bit early in the morning (from a subjective point of view, it's actually 9.30 in the purely objective world :-) )

Maarten De Boer wrote:

This is a nice coincidence, because I just installed Debian Sid
('unstable') on my home workstation.

Personally, I run unstable on workstations both at home (AmigaOne) and at work (P4 PC), but I have both Woody and Sarge installed, one on each of my RS/6k workstations.

Yes, I know. Sid is "unstable" so shouldn't use for work, but come on. It's my choice ;-)

I am also a convinced Debian user, and all the servers and workstations
I administrate are Debian Woody ('stable'). Now, recently, I have seen
myself forced to install more and more backported packages, and backporting
some  myself, because Debian stable is rather conservative, and this can be
a problem if you have new hardware, esp. video cards, or if you need to run
recent  versions of applications, are depend on recent versions of

The AmigaOne project chose Debian because that's what we had people capable of creating installation systems for. Ross Vumbaca modified boot-floppies to work with the AmigaOne. I helped him, but at the time I only ran unstable on ALL my powerpc hardware, and boot-floppies doesn't (didn't) build-dep on unstable (needs two libraries which are mutually exclusive...). So I ended up reading the code and sending him info on where to add support. Kudos to him for pulling it off.

Anyway, choosing Debian was ok for a lot of people, but there's always someone who just CAN'T keep from buying newer and bigger and better, so suddenly we had a gazillion users with Radeon 8x00 and 9x00 cards out there. Basically, 8x00 needs Xfree 4.2.1, 9x00 needs 4.3.0. So that's testing and unstable (well, the packages over at penguinppc might work with testing now, but didn't back then), respectively. So I created a faq with info about upgrading Debian and using apt-pinning. Before that, we had people do fun tricks like change stable to unstable in sources.list, upgrading libc6, then switching back. Of course, I _could_ have told these people to download the X source and install from that, but we're talking about people who should never have started with Linux without tutoring anyway ;-)

Basically, I've discovered that people are _terminally_ afraid of using testing or unstable, and not because of security holes (these people surf the net with AmigaOS on a daily basis. AmigaOS doesn't have a concept of memory protection. You do the math). But because of the names. They think they have to run stable on their workstations because otherwise things will crash all the time. Ironically, we've had a lot of IRQ problems with the VIA southbridge, leading to lockups (in 2.4.19, 2.4.21 hasn't hard-locked as much). So we have an unstable kernel and people insist on running stable programs, but need to update libc and X. Nice combination ;-).

So, what's my point? I think there should be more focus on the difference between servers and workstations. If you're running a workstation that's sharing ADSL with WinME and AmigaOS, your LEAST concern is a security hole somewhere. So for this group, testing should be preferred. Also, XFree86 should get higher priority, it's been stuck at 4.2.1 in Debian for ages now, and there's VERY good reasons for upgrading to 4.3.0 if you buy new hardware. The problem is that when one distribution is named "stable", people who are new to Debian think the others must suck badly. If the naming was changed so you had something to the effect of "server", "workstation" and "devel", people would get the idea. Am I making sense here?

Other distributions we've been playing with:
SuSE: outdated by about a million years, much like Woody. Unuseable on half our users machines due to old XFree etc. Yellow Dog: 3.0 doesn't have an installation system that supports us, but there's been a lot of work by the people at MAI (who designed the hardware). This means we have people who run the current release of Yellow Dog, which is about on par with Sarge when it comes to software. Of course, Sarge has since then moved on, but you get the idea.

So some people go for other distributions instead of upgrading Debian, because they DO NOT WANT TO RUN non-stable systems, and they think that since Yellow Dog 3.0 is released, while Sarge is "testing" (since Woody is "stable" this implies a lack of stability). All in all, they end up with the EXCACT same software as if they had gone for Sarge, but it doesn't SEEM like that because of the names.

Sorry for the rant, but I feel Debian has some way to go before our marketing skills are on par with the other distributions.

Owner of AmigaOne since May 2002

AmigaOne dev list FAQ (when I say F, I mean F):
Some "useful" packages:

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