“Abandoning” Debian

From: Eve Siegel <eve@eve-siegel.eu.org>
To: Debian Devel <debian-devel@lists.debian.org>
Subject: “Abandoning” Debian

Hi all!

Debian has been my distribution of choice for 3 years now. I can testify that
I have been quite happy with it, and as you may have noticed also contributed
by being a packager. Recently, however, I noticed several trends
in the community and attitude of Debian that induced me into abandoning it.
Part of the reason for this was a personal transformation of mine, (a very
good one in fact) that made me realise that Debian was not the distribution to
which I belong.

The reasons I dislike Debian now are:

1. The community consists of many people who are loud, smug, feel a sense
of superiority in their distribution, and denounce all other distributions.

While I don’t accuse any of the Debian Leaders of this, it seems we all have
done too little to make clear this behavior was unacceptable.

Debian has or had some advantages over other distributions. It also had or
even still has some drawbacks. However, telling the world and his mother, how
much we are better than the rest (if we are indeed better) is not going to
help us making it better. And workers of other distros are less boastful,
and invest time in filling in the gaps.

2. Trying to apply the Debian Free Software Guidelines to things that are
not software, will bring no good. Software is something that should abide
by the free software ideology. Documentation, fonts, graphics, music and
other types of content, play by different rules and warrant different
guidelines for inclusion in the distribution, than these applied to software.

The last thing I need is documentation disappearing into the oblivion of
the non-free repository, fonts rejected for being non-modifiable, and other
annoyances like that.

As an extreme example, are we going to remove all the packages license
files, because their text is not free-as-in-speech?

3. The arrangement of Debian as an online democratic country, is heavily
causing a lot of bad side-effects. People are simply not accepted because
there’s too much red-tape. There are plenty of procedures. Many things
are decided according to a vote instead of what is better to do.

Re-structuring Debian as an anarchy controlled by a loose leadership will
do it very good. Otherwise, it seems things are progressing too slowly:

Debian used to have a very poor installer until not long ago, and even
now it is not a graphical one but a character based one. Furthermore, the
Debian release cycle is too long to be effective for most users. (and we
should remember that using the bleeding edge distribution is not an option
for many users, who cannot excessively download packages from the Internet).
Furthermore, Debian still lacks many of the graphical configuration tools
that are common in other distributions. That’s not good.


It is beyond my power to fix all these problems on my own. So I looked for
an alternative distribution. I bought a new hard-disk which I’m dedicating
to distribution experimentation. For a long time I recommended using Mandrake
for many newcomers I’ve introduced Linux to. So I decided to give it a try.

Mandrake is very nice, and I’m happily using it. I have one partition with
Mandrake Cooker (the bleeding edge distribution) and one partition with the
stable one. There is a lot of glue and integration in the distribution and
everything is made to work together. The distribution is kept up-to-date and
the releases are more frequent than Debian.

Granted, there are more bugs than in Debian, especially in the Mandrake
Cooker. But they are nothing I cannot handle, and so I’m just trying to
fix what I find. I already contributed some bug-reports, and even fixes
there, and also submitted several new packages.

Note that I can still use and work on Debian, either by booting to it,
or running it on a PC emulator. I will continue to maintain my packages in
Debian at least until someone else volunteers to take over them. But I’m
officially no longer a Debianist.

Sincerely yours,

    Eve Siegel (“Erisa”).


Eve has sent me a copy of this message. It started an entire active discussion at the mailing list to which it was sent.