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Re: A market perspective on the impact of dunc-tanc

On Thu, Dec 14, 2006 at 04:27:09PM -0400, D G Teed wrote:
> Howdy,
> I'm a sysadmin of the Unix half of a small University
> main server room.  Recently we have been trying to
> decide on a replacement for FreeBSD for 14 servers.
> I favor Debian, however I can't make that decision on
> my own.  I found it was a challenge to convince
> others in the decision making process that Debian
> is solid and here to stay when the Dunc Tanc causes
> the Weekly News to drop out of consistent appearance.
> I know there are alternate sources of information, but
> one must consider that non-Linux users are amongst
> the visitors of the Debian project web site.

how is this different than a for-profit corporation deciding to remove
support for a particular installation; changing its primary method of
communicating with customers; or any number of other things that
corps could choose to do? 

> It is small things about the web site for Debian which
> make Debian look less maintained than it really is.

the reality, as I see it from my two years with debian on all my
machines, is that the website is functional. it does what its supposed
to do -- get the information to the people. I would much rather have
volunteers spending time making a good OS instead of making a pretty web page.

> I understand the political tug of war the DWN editor
> is involved in, but in the end, holding a gun to the head
> of what you like isn't helping anything.  The missing DWN
> is one missing piece of "product" continuity, and reading
> the "why" just makes things worse.  The people involved
> are shown to be struggling for their individual rights
> on the same level as teenagers refusing to return
> someones possessions until the other person returns
> something they are missing (regardless of whether
> they really need it).  Principled self-righteousness is
> something that even 6 year olds can master (I have one).
> Its absence in mature people is sometimes mistaken for
> lack of awareness or apathy.

this kind of stuff happens all over the world in all kinds of contexts
all the time. So balmer throws chairs at people, how is that for one's
view of MS as a company and a business partner? I'm not trying to
flame here. I think that the powers that be in your organization might
have their priorities mixed up and its up to you to either educate them or
accept it. 

> It would be great if snarls between perspectives of developers
> had no impact on DWM and other aspects of Debian.  If a person
> developing Debian truly loves what they are doing, the Dunc Tanc
> should have no impact on what they are contributing either way.
> One way to protest it is to ignore it and stick to the essentials.
> It might seem insane, but there are people in the world
> who plant crops while bullets and mines are real threats.
> There is no point protesting when what you need to do
> is ensure you have food to live on in the future.
> It is the same with Debian.  It will only grow stronger with continued
> efforts of volunteers.  If it woobles and appears like the project web
> site of something much smaller, decision makers will not
> trust Debian as a mature, robust and trustworthy source of
> Linux and Linux applications.

that is an education issue more than anything. Truly educated decision
makers can look deeper than the first layer and determine the merits
of a product/project regardless of how glossy or not that top layer
is. the appearance of a website is irrelevant to the quality of a

> So far, I have failed to convince other decision makers that
> Debian deserves more roles in our server room, and we
> are headed to adoption of Redhat.  Yes, it is insane that
> decisions like this are made by someone with 20 minutes
> of experience installing Linux, but that it how it is.  They
> might have been more willing to consider my opinion
> if Debian's web appearance, newsletters, etc. demonstrated
> that Debian is backed by a "thousand plus" highly talented

maybe, since its free, they would like to try it in parallel with
other options and see which one "works" better for them? and you
answered your own question -- debian is backed by developers, not
marketing folks. That makes me confident that the real work is getting
done. Yet with all the work that is getting done, the website,
non-flashy though it is, continues to be up-to-date and functional. It
strikes me as the right balance.

> Typically when I have criticism of something open source, I hear
> back retorts of "why don't you volunteer to fix it?".   I will answer
> that right now.  It takes all kinds of people to make Debian a
> success, not only people writing code and documentation.
> I have contributed to open source projects where I've
> had the time and talent to do so.  At the current stage
> of my life I don't have the time to do more.  So my main role in
> supporting it will be advocate, user, product demonstrator
> and perhaps once in awhile, commenter.
> If there are other users who also feel this issue has degraded the
> appearance of the Debian project and its web site, you might share
> your view.

despite my many decimated strawmen above, I do to some extent agree
with you, the loss of the DWN is a great loss to the community. It
was one of those things I did not always read, but felt comforted
by seeing it float through my inbox. It was like a heartbeat telling me
deb was alive and well. Debian is a big and seemingly robust project
with lots of support from around the world. I think it has to be one
of the most successful volunteer projects in the world. I firmly
believe that Debian will weather this particular storm and will
continue long after it is just a footnote in deb's history. The fact
that we can have discourse like this only makes it stronger in my

To your particular problem... if you can't convince them, you can't
convince them. sorry. But if you can put together a good pros/cons
comparison ofthe various options open to you, that will give deb the
best chance it has. I wish you luck in that.


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