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What will improve Debian most?

Hi *,

So looking through the nominations, platforms and the current -vote
threads, I'm left wondering if any of this actually matters. Only two
candidates running, no IRC debate or rebuttals added to the platforms,
and only a couple of topics people have even raised for the candidates
to address? Debian used to involve lots of people with different ideas
about how to improve free software; not just a handful of different
ideas about how to run a free software project.

One of the most impressive things about Debian in the past was its
exponential growth -- users, developers, packages, architectures,
email volume, etc -- but I wonder if that's still happening, or if
growth is something that's been outsourced to Ubuntu somewhere along the
line. Maintaining an exponential growth curve essentially means finding
new ways to make Debian twice as interesting at a constant rate --
each year or two, I'd guess.

So here's the question, and really the only part of this mail that
warrants a response:

    Over the next twelve months, what single development/activity/project
    is going to improve Debian's value the most? By how much? How will
    you be involved?

A possible example might be "making Debian 5% faster on m68k -- that'll
affect about 1% of our users, making them about 20% happier since speed
is their number one issue, for an overall improvement of 0.2%". 

Another might be "we'll make web applications, like WordPress, Drupal,
Tomcat etc, easy to install, activate and maintain; this will expand
our userbase by 30%, and make 20% of our users three times happier --
that's an overall improvement of 82%".

Another might be "we'll get 45% more patches from downstream distros
(Ubuntu, Xandros, HP's Mi, etc) into Debian, and get 35% more patches
from Debian incorporated back upstream, for a 96% improvement in our
free software community participation".

Another might be "we'll make working on Debian twice as fun so current
developers spend twice as much time/effort on Debian, and we'll make
participating sufficiently easier to get half as many contributors
again without any drop in quality, for an overall increase in our rate
of improvement of 150%".

Another might be "we'll stop working on Debian and move developers and
users to Ubuntu instead, following Canonical's existing goals/processes,
giving users three times as many other folks they can turn to for support,
pre-installed systems on various netbooks and laptops, and sharing work
on things like archive maintenance, bug triage, and routine packaging
making that take 70% as much work, with minimal transition costs of
about 5% due to Ubuntu's derived nature, for an overall benefit of 389%".

Communication is important, but not if it means everyone's time
and attention gets focussed on things that don't make an appreciable
difference to our goals, while things that would make a huge difference
keep getting ignored or deferred. And even if we didn't want to commit to
actual numeric values for different ideas, we've got plenty of developers
and users we could poll to at least get an overall ordering.

Bonus question: in retrospect, what single activity/etc over the past
twelve months improved Debian the most? By how much? (Can you really
justify that?) How were you involved?


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