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Debian, Flamewars and Freedom
Posted by glanz on Mon 2 Apr 2007 at 14:04
I have been using Debian since the inception of its availability. I have followed its evolution, its developers' community, its user community and its general philosophical and ethical permutations since the beginning.

Many observers have found it difficult to "digest" the so-called "internal bickering", the occasional flamewar, in which I have participated in the distant past, and the continual, rather strong discussions its development occasions.

I have no criticism concerning all this. In fact, I find it positive and healthy. Freedom itself is often "difficult to digest" to those who have less experience with it. Others bloom in such an environment. Freedom has a price. The first payment comes in the money of opinions, often shocking and strong, of each member of the various levels of the Debian Community "hierarchy". In general, there is always room for improvement in an evolving and self-improving community. Debian is like a virtual country, spanning artificial territoriality, determined by greed and by wars. It is a unifying experience to all those involved even though when isolating a local verbal battle here and there from within its communication system seems shocking and apocalyptic from time to time.

Debian is a working cooperative. So is Ubuntu, but without a "dictator", benevolent or not. Unlike Ubuntu's community, it does not have political correctness, lack of criticism and being overly careful to not step on anyone's toes as a rule of conduct. Ubuntu seems to have its own "Dept. of Homeland Security," scanning the horizon for the "unseemly" criticism and the budding contention. This does present an Eden-like image to the uninvolved however -- sort of a "nicey-wicey" spin. That's OK though. All that was not a dumping of Ubuntu, just a statement of taste.

Debian is a non-fascist cooperative. Those who work the hardest have more influence than those who do not, yet everyone is welcomed. This freedom is disarming. I am pleasantly amazed that it works so well and for so long a time.

So all the heat you feel from really free discussions on mailing lists, all the strong language, albeit normally well formulated and expressed, and all the reposts and seeking for solutions are signs of health and a proof that freedom reigns in a full spectrum of humanity.


Comments on this Entry

Re: Debian, Flamewars and Freedom
Posted by ajt (85.211.xx.xx) on Mon 2 Apr 2007 at 21:34
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Democracy is a dreadful system, but probably the best there is...

I don't know if I really believe this, but there is a lot of truth to it. If you have a democracy you have to accept compromise or you'll never get anything done. It's hard but it's the only way to get to take a bunch of people and extract a "product" from them.

The only viable alternatives rely on a charismatic leader who attracts people to their single vision. There is something to be said for the dictator approach, both Hitler and Napoleon got a lot done in the way they wanted however it's fair to say that there were a lot of people who suffered.

Herding cats is always hard, so I suppose you could argue that democracy is often just representative democracy or a temporary dictatorship. A true democracy where every issue is discussed and voted on it's pretty unworkable, or is it...?

"It's Not Magic, It's Work"

[ Parent ]

Re: Debian, Flamewars and Freedom
Posted by glanz (70.55.xx.xx) on Mon 2 Apr 2007 at 21:52
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Well, the herd of cats that seems to be works. I realize what you are saying about compromise and the alternative dictator approach, but the Debian community has been rather lucky to have had competent leadership since the beginning. Personal conflicts aside, the level of competence has been there.

I believe that the charisma needed for the Debian project is more a question of language and communication than a simple matter of style. Language is like code.... In fact, it IS code. Happily, many "contribute" to the Debian code base, whether in scripting languages or in the dissemination of information.

True, a Project Leader is a necessity, to herd the cats. A thankless job, to say the least, and scratches are frequent.

So is a "true democracy" unworkable? Of course. That's where Chaos comes in, and the happy anarchy that is Debian. Remember back when "The Anarchists Handbook" was part of the Debian distribution? There's a reason for that.

[ Parent ]

Re: Debian, Flamewars and Freedom
Posted by Anonymous (87.118.xx.xx) on Fri 25 Apr 2008 at 00:01
you mean the Anarchist FAQ?
it's still there

It's not to be confused with the old, deliberately flawed bomb-making manual!

[ Parent ]