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Q to all candidates: Universal Operating System


An unofficial motto for Debian (unofficial because it is not part of our
foundation documents) is "the universal Operating System".

Despite the fact that it was never (AFAIK) properly defined, it has been
used as a argument on various occasions (the discussions about the
Vancouver proposal about reducing the number of ports, the init systems
debate, etc.). Clearly we care about some level of universality, but we
have never really been able to draw a line to say how much we are
prepared to do (or lose) for this universality.

All platforms somehow mention this motto:

Jonathan Carter:
> I like the concept of the "Universal Operating System". To me it means
> that Debian is adaptable to different technologies, situations and use
> cases.

Joerg Jaspert:
> Everyone wants to know how the next leader is going to lead us into
> the gloryful future of the universal OS.

Sam Hartman:
> Our universality is more important than ever.

Martin Michlmayr:
> What I'm going to say now will be very controversial. Debian prides
> itself on being the universal operating system. This is a great goal,
> on many levels. However, it's also important to acknowledge that you
> cannot do everything — that doing everything slows things down. We
> can't always wait for everyone, otherwise we'd never get things done.
> Not everything is equally as important. Sometimes it's important to
> set priorities and to tell people "no". Again, we're afraid to do
> that. The universal operating system, and the underlying culture,
> while laudable in practice, has become toxic in practice on some
> levels.


1) So, if you were asked to write a Social Contract paragraph about our
universality, defining/outlining both what we aim for, and also maybe
some limits to that quest for universality, what would it be?

2) More specifically, if you believe that we should not aim for being
fully universal, *how* (in terms of decision-making processes) do you
think that we should draw a line about what's acceptable, for
example to decide how to cater to the needs of an hypothetical Debian
GNU/Darwin on m68k port? And what's your own opinion on where that line
should be (specific examples could rely on debian-ports, release
architectures, support for non-Linux kernels, init systems, ...)

- Lucas

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