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Re: Some thoughts for Debian.

[ cc'd over to the developer's list ]

> I think if debian is going to succeed, it's going to have to be reduced
> to a standard set of "core" applications that will make up the "offical"
> distribution of debian. Right now, the distribution is huge and it's

I *very strongly* disagree.  One of the things that brought me to Debian in 
the first place, and kept me here despite some problems with the 1.2 release, 
is the tremendous amount of available software.  It is very nice to be able to 
run dselect, press +, hit a couple of keys, and have more software on the 

> getting bigger. In the process, it seems less is getting done in the way of
> providing comprehensive testing, marketing, etc.. of each new release.

I do not know that a free OS needs to have "marketing".  But you are right, 
testing needs to improve, and I think that plans are being made to do that for 
the next release (I hope so at least !)

> Many people are handling multiple packages and getting either burnt out
> or don't have enough time to adequatly test the packages they do maintain.

That could well be true, but Debian is getting new maintainers all the time.  
Handling multiple packages itself is not a big problem -- handling *too many* 
packages is.  And I've seen recently posts of people that have recognized they 
don't have time to maintain the packages they've got and are giving them away 
to others.

> While I understand and applaud the basic concepts behind Debian, it's
> success will depend on what the commercial community does with it.

I disagree.  Debian is free software.  If enough people at home use it, that 
will be fine.  Or if it penetrates into Computer Science, Engineering, etc...

> 1) I realize this process will start a religious debate over what
> 	program is the best, but, someone ( everyone? ) needs to decide
> 	on the core packages that will make up the offcial distribution.
> 	ie.... smail, sendmail, qmail, etc. which one will debian choose
> 	as the default for the distribution?

smail is the default.  But that doesn't mean that sendmail can't be included.  
And it doesn't mean that there should be no support for sendmail.  And...it 
doesn't mean that programs in Debian cannot depend on or reccommend sendmail.

> 	in the case of user apps, one application could be choosen that
> 	works on terminals and one that works in X. ( where possible )
> 	ie.... users will need a mail reader.
> 	for terminals: elm
> 	for X: exmh

Those are probably the packages I'd use, but... I like exmh, and use it most 
of the time.  But I don't think it's good for new users.  Maybe tkmail or 

> 	this will create a standardized distribution that commercial vendors
> 	can easily support. it will reduce greatly the size of the main
> 	distribution and will allow devlopers to focus on just the applications
> 	that make up the offical distribution plus allow easier beta testing
> 	of the distribution as a whole.

But then I don't get any choice in what I use.  This is one of the reasons I'm 
using Linux in the first place -- a good selection of programs for the things 
I do frequently.  What if I prefer Pine or Mutt for e-mail?  Do I suddenly get 
no support?  If a vendor of Debian is going to support Debian (which they are 
not obligated to do in the first place), then they should support Debian, not 
just a small part of it.

> 	some things, like games, should definatly not be part of the
> 	offcial distribution. while i dearly love xtetris, you can't consider
> 	it a necessity.
> 2) Everything else could be moved over to contrib.
> 	ie... since mutt ( a mail reader ) wasn't choosen as part of the offical
> 	distribution, it gets put in contrib/mail 

But this is not what contrib is for.  Contrib is for software that is not 
necessarily possible to be included in the main distribution for whatever 
reason.  Eg, shareware or programs that depend on stuff in non-free.

I really oppose making one package of each type a "default".  Such packages 
may not suit each person, so why should somebody have to go to an unsupported 
section to get a package that they want?

> 	this will provide alternatives while allowing for a so-called
> 	"official" distribution.
> 	someone could be put in charge of "maintaining" the contrib directory
> 	( oversee the layout of dirs, etc ) but the packages shouldn't be
> 	a concern of the "core" developers... 
> 	its basically the same system that is in place now, but it shouldn't
> 	be bruce's or any other "core" developers problem if the program
> 	doesn't work.

I don't think that it is Bruce's problem now if a package doesn't work.  It's 
the maintainer's job to make sure their packages work.  In the present system, 
in the end, the responsibility for a package working falls to the maintainer 
of the package.  And this is the way it should be.

> 3) revamp the web pages. its the first place a user might check for info
> 	on debian and they look really bad right now. ( i know this has
> 	already been discussed )

Now this I agree with!  It is especially bad to see "some parts of this may 
not be working..." at the top.  Delete links to those that don't work or fix 
> 4) open up the release dates a bit. last i heard, the push was for 3 month
> 	cycles. open it to 6 months. while those who want to stay on the
> 	cutting edge can do so, some people and most companies want stabilty.
> 	this is one area i don't have a clear understanding of.
> 	alot of people were excited about the release of "slackware96" but
> 	the release of debian 1.2 came and went. weird.

I disagree here.  I don't know if you are familiar with what it takes to do 
this.  A package maintainer must always ensure that his package will work on 
the "stable" system (which generally means at least downgrading the libc on 
his system, and sometimes, even more.)  as well as making it work on the 
unstable distribution for the next release.  The more time there is between 
releases, the harder this will be and the greater the chances will be of 
breaking a package for at least one of the two distributions.

> 5) the quest for a debian logo has produced some really good work from
> 	users of debian. i think a similiar push should be made for
> 	debian documentation. i know there are some debian users out there
> 	who are good at writing and debian could use some really well written
> 	FAQs, installation procedures, HOWTOs, etc...

Yes, we definately need a logo, and soon.  But just a hint to people making logos: get rid of the penguin!  The more I look at, the more I am repelled...it looks childish somehow...

John Goerzen          | Running Debian GNU/Linux (www.debian.org)
Custom Programming    | 
jgoerzen@complete.org | 

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