Internetnews.com ran an interesting article about the synergy and tension beween Ubuntu Linux and classic . Ian Murdoch had this to say…
Sarge vs. The Hoary Hedgehog?
But Ian Murdoch, Debian’s founding father, does not believe Ubuntu’s popularity bodes well for Debian-based distros.
“If anything, Ubuntu’s popularity is a net negative for Debian,” Murdoch told internetnews.com. “It’s diverged so far from Sarge that packages built for Ubuntu often don’t work on Sarge. And given the momentum behind Ubuntu, more and more packages are being built like this. The result is a potential compatibility nightmare.”
Murdoch argues that if Ubuntu were truly compatible with Debian, all of the energy going into it could be directed at Sarge and toward getting it released, which is what would really benefit the Debian developer ecosystem as a whole.
“I understand what the Ubuntu folks are trying to do, and they’re doing lots of good work that will eventually find its way into Debian,” Murdoch said. “But what we really need right now as a community is for Sarge to be released.
“In that respect, Ubuntu’s popularity is more harmful than helpful.”
Ian, you are missing the point. I suppose that isn’t really surprising, since the reason that Ubuntu exists at all is because Debian has lost its way.
The reason that Ubuntu exists is actually pretty simple: no existing distribution had the features that people wanted. Among things that people want but have not received are:
- regular releases
- modern updates to windowing software and applications
- excitement! A sense that things are really moving.
Yes, the guys behind Ubuntu could have tried to work within Debian. But they would be forced to participate in what seems like an incredibly bloated, lethargic, unresponsive behemoth. Sarge has been years in the making, and is still at least months away from being ready to ship. The current “stable” release of Debian was first released in January of 2002 for pity’s sake.
And another pet peeve of mine: installation. Debian has the most quirky, oddball install of any popular distribution I’ve found. With Ubuntu, you download an iso, burn it, boot it, answer a couple of questions, and you are done.
Ubuntu should hurt Debian. Debian has seemingly worked at dispersing excitement and enthusiasm rather than generating it. It seems always to be looking backwards, rather than forwards. Some people think that is important, but for a project that relies upon the enthusiasm and excitement of volunteers, it doesn’t seem like a viable strategy.