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Re: Q to all candidates: Debian in five years?

On Sat, Mar 14, 2015 at 10:59:26PM +0100, Lucas Nussbaum wrote:
> There has been some discussions about the focus moving to other areas of
> Free Software, distributions being solved problems, containers as a
> alternative/better way to ship software, etc.
> In five years, what should Debian's position and role be in the Free
> Software ecosystem?
> Are there other positions where we somehow risk ending up?
> What can we rely on to get to that ideal position/role?
> What are the main things we should worry about (including, but not
> limited to recent trends in the Free Software world)?

I think this is somewhat larger a topic than can fit in a single email,
or indeed thread. Perhaps a small book may be more appropriate, but I'll
try and give a selection of my thoughts below anyway :)

The landscape and concepts of software is changing (as it always has)
and we need to make sure our key characteristics remain true;
* A dedication to technical excellence
* We are a community distribution
* We integrate
* We care about software freedom
* We care about our users

By doing this, and via our social contract, we create trust. That
implied trust is something that has kept Debian going, and is possibly
an answer to various trends that are now happening.

One of the issues that has come up is around dockerisation, and cloud
deployments. However, this does draw parallels with the 1970s, where
everything is on a special mainframe, which you can't touch. If you're
lucky, you get a terminal which you can interact with. I think that if
Debian and the wider free software community somehow imploded and
disappeared, this could indeed be the future we're heading towards.

However, I'm an optimist at heart. Users still /like/ their own
software. The concept that you control your own system is important.
In my day job, we sell consultancy and development of free software. A
lot of the key plus points we put across becomes threatened by this
centralisation which is best summed up by 'vendor neutrality'.

If your cloud email provider decides to shut off your access, you get
very little recourse in getting your information back out again. If
Adobe decide tomorrow that Photoshop isn't what it's all been cracked up
to be, and shut down their service, you lose a key part of software
which you may have been relying on. If you store all your photos in the
cloud, and suddenly there's a huge price hike for doing so, then you
have to pay for face massive hassle to re-arrange hosting (assuming you
were good and saved backups. You did, didn't you?).

Linked to the above is a concern over privacy and security. Debian
provides a trust path for your software, so you can know what's on your
system, where it came from and what it does. There are, of course,
people who don't seem to mind what happens with their personal data, but
given the number of emails I keep getting advertising identity theft
protection, I expect that there is indeed a general concern.

These are still issues which are important to people in general, and is
something we can still provide a counter to.


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