The widely-used Debian GNU/Linux distribution has a new project leader, Australian Anthony Towns, following an election process spanning several weeks. Australian Anthony Towns won the poll from a field of several candidates after 421 votes – from 43 percent of the eligible community of Debian developers – were cast. He will take up the post for one year from Monday 17 April, taking over from incumbent Branden Robinson.
Debian Has a New Leader
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2006-04-10 10:49 pmnull_pointer_us
A bit worrying that only 43 per cent of those eligible actually voted. I wonder what the other 57 per cent were thinking?
Does it really matter? Apparently, they didn’t bother to vote.
Edited 2006-04-10 22:49
2006-04-11 12:24 amd a v i d
Indeed. People have real lives, and get busy with that – even free software developers!
I have often wondered about why only a year position as well. I can think of a couple reasons but still think it would be wise to go to at least 18months to 2years for the DPL.
I have often thought about testing becoming a real release, even if a slightly unstable one. Would be VERY cool. Just set some sort of goal for it and time table for those goals and do a real release.
Also a cool new software installer. Yes I love apt and since apt is scriptable you could build a web based front end to it quickly and shazaaam have easy software installs….
I know this is a bit off topic, but I wanted to know some of your opinions about using Debian Unstable. I just installed SuSE 10, and I like it, but I keep finding myself wanting to use Debian (for reasons about their philosophy about free software).
I have read reports of Unstable/Testing screwing up because of problems, sometimes screwing up the entire system. What are your experiences with this? I am about to start grad school, and the last thing I want is my computer to be rendered useless because of Unstable/Testing while I need access to my research.
I am paranoid? Are these cases exceptions to the rule? If I want to run Kanotix, Unstable, or Testing, what are some things I can do to reduce the probability of something bad happening? Thanks for your help.
2006-04-11 11:15 amnull_pointer_us
I am paranoid?
Probably. 🙂 But sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Are these cases exceptions to the rule? If I want to run Kanotix, Unstable, or Testing, what are some things I can do to reduce the probability of something bad happening? Thanks for your help.
Problems like that do happen. I remember reading about Linux installers’ incorrectly partitioning hard drives, accidentally rendering Windows partitions unusable. But it never happened to me, and I don’t think it was all that common.
There are several things you can do to minimize the risks of using new/unstable software.
First, don’t upgrade when you cannot deal with the consequences. Obviously, you don’t want your computer down for a few days when you’ve got a paper due. You don’t absolutely need the latest and greatest on your desktop every single day (although it would be nice).
Second, try to pick a safe route. Use common hardware that is known to work – i.e. don’t use a half-working open source wireless driver to connect to your campus network. Pay attention to the mailing lists and make sure to upgrade a week or so after everyone else so that you minimize your chances of discovering a new problem all by yourself. Also, use major, stable software for your work.
Third, you want to allow yourself plenty of time for studying so that if errors do start popping up, you have time to deal with them calmly and rationally.
Fourth, a live CD/DVD of your distro with the software you need for your work would be a great idea. That should save you from anything short of hardware failure or massive file system corruption – both of which are very unlikely.
2006-04-11 2:32 pmda_Chicken
All the major changes and improvements in Debian are first introduced in Unstable. Sometimes major changes cannot be introduced without temporarily breaking something. Debian developers need a place where such breaking is allowed, and this place is called Unstable.
After spending ten days in Unstable, packages are allowed to migrate to Testing if no release critical bugs have been discovered. Testing should be relatively safe to use at all times, although some minor glitches may occur.
Stable Debian releases are made every 18 months by freezing Testing and giving it some extra bug-fixing and polishing. Unlike Unstable and Testing, Stable only gets security updates — applications in Stable release are NOT upgraded (that’s one of the meanings of the term “stable”). All the problems that come from making a huge number of programs to interact smoothly and from supporting many architectures should be fixed when Debian makes a Stable release. Stable Debian releases have the reputation of being very reliable and as bug-free as is humanely possible.
This is the theory, anyway. In practice, some users may find tracking Unstable quite unproblematic and some users have reported a bumpier ride than expected when tracking Testing. YMMV. The basic difference between Unstable and Testing is, however, that when things break in Unstable, it’s only to be expected but when things break in Testing, that should be unexpected and it indicates that things are not normal.
What can you do to avoid breaking your Debian system? If you decide to track Unstable despite all the warnings, install a package called “apt-listbugs” that will warn you before you install any packages that have open bug reports filed against them. If you track Testing and decide to install some packages from Unstable, you should be aware that you’re taking a calculated risk and that packages in Unstable are usually less-tested and buggier than the packages in Testing. Before you enable both Unstable and Testing in your sources.list, you should first make sure that you understand what apt-pinning is.
Also, you should be aware that both Unstable and Testing have already come a long way since the latest Stable release, Sarge, and that, for this reason, mixing Stable with Unstable/Testing in your sources.list is asking for trouble. If you decide to install Kanotix — do yourself a favour and change your sources.list to point to Testing. After that you should be OK. And if you decide to track Testing, please add the testing-security package repository to your sources.list: http://secure-testing-master.debian.net/
2006-04-11 7:42 pmgary1979
Thanks for the advice. I plan on giving Sarge a spin, but I am afraid that it will not work well with all the features on my laptop (power management, wireless, firewire, iPod, etc.).
The information on ‘apt-listbugs’ and adding the testing repositories for Kanotix are really useful. Thanks so much.
It seems like yesterday that I was reading about Branden getting elected. I think a volunteer leader who’s working on a project in their spare time needs more time to make lasting real improvements. Especially in such a large project as Debian.
From Anthony Towns’ platform:
Some of the goals I hope to work towards in the coming year include getting updates accepted into the archive more frequently than once a day, having frequent beta releases of etch/testing that we can legitimately call a release (benefiting from the ongoing work of the installer and testing-security teams), and having reliably quick resolution of RC bugs in unstable. None of those require, or even necessarily benefit from magical DPL powers; but I think the project will benefit if whoever is elected DPL takes that idea on board, and sets a good example at making frequent and improvements to Debian.
“Frequent beta releases of etch/testing” sound to me like a very good idea. Debian already makes weekly builds of testing http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/weekly-builds/ and elevating some of these to the status of beta releases (like Ubuntu’s monthly “alpha” releases) would show to larger audience how the development of the next stable Debian release is progressing.
Such beta releases might also attract more developers to work with the testing-security team and to fix release critical bugs faster so that packages can migrate from unstable to testing as quickly as possible.
As long as Debian testing is kept in good shape, it’s an attractive choice for desktop users who want real-world tested, relatively up-to-date software with security updates.
For sure, the best option to Debian progress..
A bit worrying that only 43 per cent of those eligible actually voted. I wonder what the other 57 per cent were thinking? Also, I wonder if one year is really enough time for a DPL who has some ambitious changes in mind. Maybe they should look at a longer tenure.
The ideas for requent beta releases of etch/testing and for fast attention to RC bugs in Unstable sound very good news, if a way can be found to do them without too much trouble. For desktop user, Unstable is a great blend of nearly bleeding edge with usually very stable to run.
As keen Debian user (I am typing this on it), best wishes and good luck to AJT and the whole project. For me, it is still the project that captures the best ideals of “free” and “open” better than anyone else.