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Re: Let's Stop Getting Torn Apart by Disagreement: Concerns about the Technical Committee



Hello.

This is long, it may invite disagreement, but I tried my best to avoid 
triggering any hurt feelings. In case you just want to be bothered with the 
past even for the purpose of figuring out ways to learn from it, I invite you 
to just skip reading the mail. There is certainly no need to relive the past. 
Given current human experience it is also not possible to change it. But maybe 
there is a way toward healing wounds.

Ian Jackson - 28.12.17, 11:20:
> Martin Steigerwald writes ("Re: Let's Stop Getting Torn Apart by 
Disagreement: Concerns about the Technical Committee"):
> > Any workable solution lies beyond blame, however.
> > Any workable solution lies beyond "I am right and you are wrong".
> 
> Traditionally Debian has a very workable approach for disagreements
> over whether software X or Y is better.  (For whatever value of
> "better")  Offer both and let people decide for themselves.

Sure. And it is a good approach.

Regarding Systemd/SysVInit/OpenRC this approach comes with a considerable cost 
tough as it is such a core part of the system. One cost is that a lot of 
packages link against Systemd library which is part of the reason why Devuan 
exists. Or that GNOME and to some degree other DEs without Systemd is somewhat 
challenging. Devuan developers gave up on the GNOME without Systemd topic for 
now as far as I understood.

As far as I understand it is not possible without considerable effort and 
quite some of alternative, basically duplicated packages to provide the choice 
of a truly Systemd free system within Debian. It appears to me to be almost 
like a new architecture like FreeBSD or Hurd flavors, not a different CPU 
architecture. Sure Systemd is not an operating system kernel, but it is a 
software that is really tightly coupled with one – a perfectly valid, but not 
the only possible choice made by upstream developers. But to provide a new 
architecture for this would also be considerable, heavy overhead. As far as I 
understand Devuan works a bit like that. They pull in a lot of packages 
unchanged from Debian and inject their own packages with some kind of an 
overlay mechanism. Maybe there is something for Debian people to learn from 
that approach. I did not review it closely so far.

I think it is partly this limitation that invited most of the uproar in the 
discussion some years ago.

> When things start to get really emotional and heated is when people
> feel (rightly or wrongly) that such choices are being curtailed.

Exactly.

For those who don´t want any part of Systemd installed and used, not even the 
libraries, Debian I think is just not the suitable choice at the moment.

Providing that free choice would mean to think about ways how something like 
Devuan could be possible *within* the Debian project. Quite a challenge, but 
not impossible I think. Of course, Devuan people may not want to join the 
Debian project, at least not at the moment. On the other hand they do not 
provide Systemd as a choice within Devuan. They just refer to using Debian in 
case one wants to use Systemd. The other way around it could be perfectly 
valid to refer to using Devuan for those who want a Systemd free system.

I hope for a time where Debian and Devuan people come together to heal the 
forking. And I mean "heal" literally here. Cause there are still wounds. On 
both sides. Whether there would still be a (officially approved?) variant of 
Debian called Devuan does not matter, it could be a perfectly valid outcome. 
But to heal the wounds… I think that is important work to allow for that 
healing to happen.

A first step could be to stop accusing each other. Letting go of wanting to 
accuse the other side can help here. I do read dng mailinglists from time to 
time and some main people there often actively ask to drop Systemd debates or 
even hate speech on their lists. As far as I saw they try to be fair to Debian 
packagers as well.

Within the Debian project a first good step would be to accept the fork, 
instead of just tolerating (and probably suffering from) it (what else could 
Debian people anyway than at least to tolerate it? it is free software after 
all). Accepting the fork basically is just accepting that the past is they way 
it is. Could I let go of wanting to change the past? Especially when all my 
wanting to change the past still was not able to change it?

I read at least occasionally comments about Devuan in various Debian related 
mailing lists that suggested would not be a long lasting project and there 
would be no capable packagers / developers involved. Comments that tried to 
undermine the relevance of Devuan. A good first step could be to refrain from 
commenting in this way and open up to the possibility that some people there 
are capable packagers and testers as well and that some people have there have 
perfectly valid reasons for doing the work they do. Reasons you can think 
differently about, but still valid reasons.

Same goes for Devuan people of course. Accepting each other as they are is the 
first big, important step here.


To come back to the Technical Committee topic: I think it is important to 
appreciate both sides in a dispute even when announcing the final decision. I 
don´t have all the text of the final decisions in mind. I bet tech-ctte 
members care to at least word such a final decision as neutrally or non-
offensively as they could. But actively appreciating both sides, especially 
the side that "lost" the conflict, may be a step beyond current practice. 
Those decisions are not about right or wrong. They are about technical 
preferences.

I just reviewed some CTTE decision announcements in debian-devel-announce ml 
and while some of them include at least some rationale about the decision, 
some others are just presenting the result of the decision with strong, but 
accurate wording like "We exercise our power to decide" (including the various 
Systemd ones like 727708 and 762194). I however bet tech-ctte members have 
been completely exhausted after that discussion and decision process. So maybe 
my suggestion to appreciate both sides when announcing decisions… is asking 
for unrealistic super-human powers without other changes in the process.

Also are either not all CTTE´s are announced on debian-devel-announce or is 
[CTTE #741573] Debian Menu System from September 2015 really the last 
technical decision of the CTTE? According to

https://www.debian.org/devel/tech-ctte#status

it appears that there has not been an technical decision of the CTTE 
afterwards.

Thanks,
-- 
Martin


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