Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Jan 2009 13:48 UTC
Debian and its clones "The developers behind the Debian Linux distribution are preparing for the upcoming release of Debian 5, which is codenamed Lenny. The decision to move forward with the release follows a contentious vote over whether to permit the inclusion of binary blobs in the new version of the distribution. Consensus coalesced around a controversial proposal to "assume blobs comply with the GPL unless proven otherwise."
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Comment by moleskine
by moleskine on Tue 6th Jan 2009 23:34 UTC
moleskine
Member since:
2005-11-05

I suppose it's a bit of a reflection on Debian's fallen status that so few folks beyond the hardcore have even noticed that a new iteration of Debian is imminent. Time was when such an event would have been eagerly anticipated and discussed all over the place. Lenny is already a few months overdue and so far this has rated barely a mention in the usual places. In fact the by-now traditional Debian pre-release argument, complete with accusations of malpractice and skulduggery, almost seems more newsworthy than Lenny itself. Remember Dunktank, I think it was?

The Ars Technica piece talks about pragmatism. So I suppose the question with binary blobs is whether they can be removed without a loss of functionality. If the answer is yes, then I'd guess most folks wouldn't mind. But if the answer is no, as it appears to be (though this may not be true), then things are a lot more problematic. I'd guess that most users are pragmatists, so if a distro is too purist then it risks losing a chunk of its users to another, more pragmatic outfit whose non-free, blobby code offers better functionality. I'd guess there is no easy, cut-and-dried answer to this question. The compromise position, I suppose, is the non-free, non-OSS repositories that most distros now run. The trouble with these is that they make it that little bit harder for some new users to sort out their installs and so probably restrict the appeal of moving away from the Dark Side.

But even so it looks as if the pragmatists are winning this argument, not just in Debian but in F/OSS more generally. I've no strong feelings either way, just looking at how the wind blows.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by moleskine
by UltraZelda64 on Wed 7th Jan 2009 00:43 in reply to "Comment by moleskine"
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

I suppose it's a bit of a reflection on Debian's fallen status that so few folks beyond the hardcore have even noticed that a new iteration of Debian is imminent. Time was when such an event would have been eagerly anticipated and discussed all over the place.

I'm quite eagerly anticipating it myself, although because I'm relatively new to Linux I wouldn't be able to tell how Debian's popularity (in terms of anticipation and discussion) have changed over the years. I've only become interested in Linux since around 2004; by 2006 I was using it as my main and only OS. My first encounter was around 2000 with Red Hat Desktop (8 or 9--can't remember), and it was a disaster (that was back before I even know what a "distribution" was).

I thank Microsoft's repeated attempts at killing Windows XP and forcing Vista down our throats (ie. new computer required in my case... big time) for my renewed interest in Linux; and DistroWatch, Wikipedia, Google, Slashdot, and OSNews for the info I needed to make the switch. ;)

Edited 2009-01-07 00:44 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Comment by moleskine
by stabbyjones on Wed 7th Jan 2009 01:27 in reply to "Comment by moleskine"
stabbyjones Member since:
2008-04-15

I don't really think it reflects a fallen status, it's just quieter. There is just a lot less whinging from Debian users. That's left to Ubuntu/Et al.

As far as the dev's go i think it's important that they're discussing these things. It's not easy to run a totally pure system unless you make sacrifices but it should remain the primary goal of Debian without question.

The biggest complaint i've had with firmware personally was iwl5100 firmware isn't in the 2.6.26 kernel lenny will be released with. To fix this i had to add sidux repos to update the kernel for a new laptop.

As far as server builds go Lenny's current RC has been a rock. Since the last installer update i haven't had an issue with new installs.

At the moment it's looking like Lenny will release close to two years after the original Etch release (April 2007 i think it was) Those who stuck with Etch have had kernel updates and some major revisions since then. I tend to find the 6 month update cycle of other distro's to border on attention whoring.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by moleskine
by sbergman27 on Wed 7th Jan 2009 01:35 in reply to "RE: Comment by moleskine"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

As far as the dev's go i think it's important that they're discussing these things.

Discussion is beneficial when it results in progress. But this drama was a rerun of the one that accompanied (and delayed) the last release, and the one before that. What good does it do to discuss these things over and over if the discussion doesn't result in their being any closer to a resolution? But I guess the way is now paved for the release. Until next time...

Edited 2009-01-07 01:36 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by moleskine
by moleskine on Wed 7th Jan 2009 12:20 in reply to "RE: Comment by moleskine"
moleskine Member since:
2005-11-05

I don't really think it reflects a fallen status, it's just quieter. There is just a lot less whinging from Debian users. That's left to Ubuntu/Et al.

As far as the dev's go i think it's important that they're discussing these things. It's not easy to run a totally pure system unless you make sacrifices but it should remain the primary goal of Debian without question.

The biggest complaint i've had with firmware personally was iwl5100 firmware isn't in the 2.6.26 kernel lenny will be released with. To fix this i had to add sidux repos to update the kernel for a new laptop.

As far as server builds go Lenny's current RC has been a rock. Since the last installer update i haven't had an issue with new installs.

At the moment it's looking like Lenny will release close to two years after the original Etch release (April 2007 i think it was) Those who stuck with Etch have had kernel updates and some major revisions since then. I tend to find the 6 month update cycle of other distro's to border on attention whoring.


Yes that's a good one, about less whingeing. FWIW, I've just moved to SuSE after several years on Debian. The reason is that getting Lenny out the door seems to have caused a bit of a logjam in Unstable and Testing over the past few months, with the result that their software is getting a bit old and clunky for me. When Lenny is out and the river is flowing again, I'll probably move back. The one thing I notice, on trying another distro, is how far Debian has "defence in depth". It isn't just the number of available packages, it's that so many things have helper-scripts and useful little ideas attached to them. If you're prepared to spend some time learning the Debian Way, this really does make life creamy-smooth.

That's an interesting point about release cycles. I tried SuSE 11.0 about six months ago and it was too buggy and unpolished for me. Six months later, and 11.1 has really benefited from the extra attention. It's the best SuSE I've used for several years, Maybe releasing once a year rather than once every six months should become the norm for all distros. I suspect that even the blowhards must have had enough of "It's new! It's shiny! And, er, it doesn't work very well."

Reply Parent Score: 2