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The Debian Delay: Is Sarge MIA? Or Simply a POW of Process? - page 2

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

  • March 3, 2005
  • By Sean Michael Kerner

For some the delayed release and lack of predictable schedule from Debian is not a problem for others it is. "From a commercial providers point of view it�s a problem," Ian Murdock said. "When you're basing on something that doesn't have a well articulated or predictable release cycle or roadmap clearly your job becomes a lot harder."

Debian has grown over the years from a handful of people when Murdock began the project to the massive group that it is today. Growing pains and scalability issues are part of that growth according to Murdock, though Debian has risen to similar challenges before.

"It's a similar sort of problem that Debian has run into over the years and throughout the years people have said the Debian model has scaled as far as it can scale and that has clearly proven to not be true," Murdock said.

Does it really matter if Sarge is ever actually released?

"Whether this matters is, of course, an interesting question," Debian developer Matthew Garret said. "The success of Ubuntu, Skolelinux and other Debian-derived products shows that it's not required for Debian to release in order to get our code into the world. Indeed, some people have argued that Debian should give up on the idea of releasing at all and instead, Debian should be the infrastructure that other people would use to build projects."

Garrett however disagrees with that premise. He argues that one of the most powerful motivating forces in free software is the ability to look at something and think, "I helped build that".

"Making releases encourages people to work towards that release, and the net result is better software," Garrett said.

Ian Murdock is also of the opinion that Debian releases do matter and that Debian should continue to make its own releases.

"The main reason for that is if every Debian provider used Debian as just a loosely defined set of packages every provider is essentially going to be implementing its own product on top of that loosely defined set of packages and there are going to be incompatibilities between the different Debian based products," Murdock explained.

"It's far more effective if you have a single core platform that you can build above as opposed to this ever changing universe of software," he said. "It's very important that Debian continues to maintain its own release process rather than going off and Debian splintering into a bunch of different variants."

In Murdock's view the only thing that Debian needs to do to get to that point is to have a predictably release schedule. "It doesn't matter what the duration is so long as we all know what it is and we can base our roadmaps around it accordingly," he said.

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