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New branch on Debian?

Today I have read a post from Raphael Hertzog, taking about the possibility of a new Debian branch to be created. Debian already has three branches for those not familiar with it, O.K. maybe four branches. More here

2 Responses to “New branch on Debian?” »

  1. Pingback by Tweets that mention New branch on Debian? | Debian-News.net - Your one stop for news about Debian -- Topsy.com — October 6, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dave Roger, gallois. gallois said: New branch on Debian? http://bit.ly/9EooQY [...]

  2. Comment by Calvin — October 22, 2010 @ 12:55 am

    As attractive as the rolling idea sounds, it would be a mistake. By far the best direction for a “Desktop” version of Debian would be a large increase in resources devoted to Backports.

    The main shortcoming of the stable+backports approach is the low prioritization of Backports. This is strange since the model is effectively the one that all commercial operating systems use, and for very good reasons. You want the core of the operating system to be as stable and highly polished as possible, with new versions of applications built on and tested against it.

    Microsoft has *vastly* more resources at its disposal, yet it still chooses not to implement a “rolling” release because it would not only take a great deal more testing resources on its part (to maintain quality with more frequent “releases”), it would also require the same additional testing input from the application vendors, who currently only have to test against the fixed targets of releases every 2-5 years. The FOSS community can’t afford to squander its limited resources more than we already do.

    At the same time, the Ubuntu 6-month release cycle is a disaster. It drives people away from FOSS with it’s frequent upgrade breakages and major bugs in every release. Ordinary users looking to leave the Windows universe will never be impressed with the amatuerism that is the predictable byproduct of a chronically under-tested distribution.

    While it’s true that the rolling releas idea is very popular right now, anyone who has looked seriously at existing rolling release distributions realizes there is a considerable loss in quality and stability vs. the freeze-and-release Debian Stable approach. This is fine for the tech-savy hobbyist who doesn’t mind periodic broken packages, but for the FOSS community (or Debian in this case) it takes time and resources away from what should be the real goal — the highest possible quality open source distribution with reasonably up-to-date software. If Backports could commit to having major applications available soon after they are released, then it could be *more* up-to-date for most users than Ubuntu (with its 6-month cycles). There is so much redundency in the FOSS world, that the targeted “major applications” could be a tiny fraction of all packages, and yet still please the vast majority of users. If those backported packages were also well tested, then we could have new version of Debian: “Desktop”

    This will require a democratic process of prioritization to decide which applications will receive this status, and thus get regular updates. It of course would not freeze other applications at old versions, but they would be taken on a more case-by-case basis.

    Even though such a version of Debian would not have every new package, given Debian Stable’s incomparably high quality, it would still be far more useful for the vast majority of users (particularly if paired with the polish that Linux Mint has provided) than *any* existing Linux distribution.

    What I’m arguing for is essentially what Mepis does (using Debian Stable as it’s base), but I believe Debian could do it far better, and on a non-commercial basis.

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