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The state of the Debian project

The first of my talks at LCA 2008 gave me a chance to talk about the current state of the Debian project, which got me my first LWN.net coverage — with a photo, even (subscribers only for now, the article will become public on 7 February). Thank you, Jonathan Corbet, for a very good article which nailed all the main points!

Slides are here.

I agreed to this talk on short notice because I like to talk about Debian and was honoured by the chance to represent the project in this form. I would not have been able to do it without plenty of helpful input from colleagues in the last few days. Since I didn't get a chance to display the final slide with the acknowledgements during the talk, I would herewith like to thank specifically Andreas Tille, Michael Banck, Kevin Mark, Josip Rodin, MJ Ray, Cyril Brulebois, Stefano Zacchiroli, Frans Pop, Moritz Mühlenhoff, Russ Allbery, Steve Langasek, Luk Class, Andreas Schuldei, and Christian Perrier. No guarantees for the completeness of the list.

The talk ended in an open discussion on how Debian could improve. I took notes and shall forward them to the project mailing list, once I get a chance. Thanks to all the participants, as well.

Update: during the talk, I mentioned that there was no security support around the time of the "etch" release. Thanks to Moritz Mühlenhoff, who spotted my error: that should have been "sarge". The problems with security support had long been resolved by the time "etch" was being prepared, and this was in (large?) part thanks to Moritz. Sorry for the screwup!

I also called Linux to tend towards multimedia more than one might like. I should not have made this comment as a representative of the Debian project, and I probably did unjust to the Linux kernel in whole. This is entirely a personal issue, I have a number of problems with Linux memory management, scheduling, and some other points relevant to production use. I've had some of these problems for years, but they seem never to get fixed, while development is fast-paced. Then I look at some of the work being done and I wonder what the priorities are.

Regardless, I should not have made this comment and I apologise for it.

Update: bzip2-compressed source packages are not yet supported. Thanks, Lior, for alerting me to this.

Update: the fourth issue of the misc development news mentiona a few other topics which I forgot, such as the Debian Enhancement Proposals.