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Re: What's wrong with debian?

On Tue, 1 Mar 2005, Hugo Vanwoerkom wrote:

> I see your point. But out of curiosity, how many organizations are there
> like Debian? IM 1000+ DD's spread out over the world without a physical
> place, putting together a fairly sized software project, but always
> facing an oponent like Microsoft. I worked for IBM for 28 years and we
> sat together in buildings, but that isn't the case here. Maybe it is the
> "virtuality" what is "wrong".

1000 developers sounds impressive but most of them just maintain a few
packages.  The vast majority of "infrastructure" work is only done by a
relatively small number of people.  The shear number itself causes
inefficiency.  (See "The Mythical Man-Month" for the classic study of why
just throwing more bodies at a project doesn't make things go faster.)
Companies can ask employees to work 60-80 hours a week as release time
approaches.  Debian can't ask that of volunteers who have real life
comittments, might be demotivated, working on something else etc.  The
great distance and loose contact between DDs causes entropy in
communication which further slows things down.

These are the real reasons Debian is so slow to release.  The "too many
architecures" reason is a red herring as is "we are perfectionists" (At
this point most DDs are pretty sick of the delay too.)

Luckily all these problems are known and being addressed.

* A revamped new maintainer process which helps make sure DDs have a
  baseline of skills and greater understanding of the goals and methods of
  the organization.

*  More joint-maintainership for large (or merely time-consuming projects)

*  More face to face meetings.

*  Greater willingless to take over packages from missing in action maintainers

And I hope the new DPL will take action to remove the last few bottlenecks
in positions of authority.

Debian is a unique experiment.  We've gotten some things wrong but over
all we've gotten more things right so you can be confident we'll get over
this hump.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar@debian.org>
La Salle Debain - http://www.braincells.com/debian/

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