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Debian: contempt for “end user” values has to stop!

Three recent problems with packages in the last stable release of Debian GNU/Linux (“Lenny”), brought me face-to-face with what is still a major obstacle for acceptance of free software on the desktop: contempt for the values of the people who use it. Despite all the accusations of unfair trade practices or other excuses, this remains as one solid reason why free software is still perceived as “geeks only” territory. If we want to progress further, we’ve got to improve our attitudes. More here

So what exactly happened to make me frustrated enough to write this? Well, this year I upgraded my main Debian system from “Etch” to “Lenny”. Of course, I did this to take advantage of new and improved packages (and they are there — much of this experience was positive). Sadly, this upgrade also broke a lot of stuff.

One Response to “Debian: contempt for “end user” values has to stop!” »

  1. Comment by Robert — August 28, 2009 @ 5:10 pm

    How about “Ubuntu: Contempt for “Stable Server” values has to stop!” as a headline?

    There are many reasonably good end-user distributions out there. There are not many ultra-stable server distros available; any change that improves the desktop experience in Debian at the expense of Debian’s legendary server suitability is an unjustifiable loss in my opinion.

    Among other complaints I have is the fact that Lenny got substantially less QA than Etch. An example would be the xzgv graphics viewer. It’s not an important package perhaps, but it does demonstrate the problem. Major parts of its functionality (the image tagging and keybindings to next-tagged-image/prev-tagged-image among others) do not function at all in Lenny, yet the Lenny xzgv had no noted regressions or bugs. Worse, it took only 5 minutes for a programmer with no gui-programming experience to patch around the bugs and generate a working local package. If this is “end user values”, I’ll take an extra helping of contempt please.

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