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Legitimate exercise of our constitutional decision-making processes [Was, Re: Tentative summary of the amendments]

Thanks to Steve for his perceptive and well-reasoned article.

Steve Langasek writes ("Legitimate exercise of our constitutional decision-making processes [Was, Re: Tentative summary of the amendments]"):
> There are also a lot of Debian users who are afraid of what the future holds
> for an OS that they love very much; and they deserve to have that cloud of
> fear removed from over their heads, to be given closure, even if that
> closure brings the certainty that they will part ways with Debian rather
> than being reconciled to it.

There is a big point I wanted to make apropos, roughly, of this:

If this vote goes against the users and derivatives who don't want to
use systemd, those people will have nowhere to go.

It's clear that the systemd project has been vigorously expanding its
range of functionality.  It now contains competitors to (amongst many
other things) syslog, cron and ntpd.

If Debian packages in general start to depend on the systemd versions
of these services, and support is removed for interacting with and
configuring the non-systemd services (cron.d snippets, for example),
it will be very difficult for a downstream distro to put back support
for operation without systemd.  That would involve a very large number
of patches to things like maintainer scripts.

Conversely, what if, following the passage of my GR, the very unlikely
worst case comes to pass - some packages can't be made to work
properly without systemd, and those packages are removed from Debian ?
In such a situation would be very easy for downstreams to put them
back.  I think such a derivative would be straightforward project and
sustainable in the long term.

But as I say I don't think it will come to that.  With appropriate
backpressure both the doomsday scenarios can be avoided.

I think that as the upstream for our community, we have a
responsibility to make our distribution as flexible as possible.

And over the years we have discharged that responsibility amazingly
well.  At one end of the spectrum Debian has developed some very
sophisticated frameworks for handling the diversity of software; and
at the other end, our individual packages often contain features big
and small which are useful only in non-default configurations - even,
features useful only in esoteric situations.

This flexibility has, for a long time, been one of our key strengths.
It is one of the reasons we are an attractive choice for downstreams
and it is also something that I have always thought the Debian
community values highly.

We have even encoded that flexibility in the slogan `the Universal
Operating System'.  That surely does not mean that Debian /is/, itself
and directly, the best OS for every purpose; but rather than Debian is
at least trying to support every possibility, all imperfectly.  We try
to avoid trading off that flexibility in favour of supporting some (or
even many) use cases more perfectly.


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