[ncolug] Re: Debian Linux gains carrier grade status

  • From: David Fierbaugh <david@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: ncolug@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 6 Jun 2006 09:47:38 -0400

On Tuesday 06 June 2006 08:02, Henry Keultjes wrote:
> http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/2157587/debian-linux-gains-carrier
> The questions was raised about Debian's OSDL status.   Here is a very
> positive answer.
> That brings me back to the Ubuntu situation.  I have always liked
> Chuck's well placed passion for Debian yet I don't quite understand the
> gripe with Ubuntu not pushing code upstream.
> Is not the sole requirement of the GPL to publish the code?

As stated, no, the GPL does not require publishing of the code. The GPL 
requires that the code be distributed or made available to those whom you are  
distributing the software to. Else-wise, it does not require public 

For example:
I am a freelance programmer. I have a client that wants a feature added to the 
GPL'd project SprocketMaker. They pay me to add the feature. The code is 
still GPL'd, including my changes.
 - I am required by the GPL to make available to the client the source code 
(and tools to build it, etc.)
 - I am not required to feed changes back into development (though why 
wouldn't I, unless specifically stated not to in contract.)
 - I do not have to provide the compiled program, or the source to anyone 
(except the client if I want to get paid.)

Is this done in reality? Yes. Is it the standard or usual case? No. Usually, 
code is contributed back to the community or published in some sort of public 

In the FOSS world, businesses/individuals are not selling products (or product 
licenses), but selling services.  The only way to effectively advertise those 
services is to make public your portfolio of work. This is especially true of 
smaller companies and individual consultants. It is a problem I am facing 
because few of the businesses I've written anything for around here could see 
any value to releasing the projects under the GPL.

> If the code that Ubuntu produces is worthwhile, is there any reason that
> Debian developers cannot just go and get it or is it a question of false
> pride on the part of the Debian developers?

If only coding were so simple as going to get code and adding it into your 

Debian, as with all FOSS projects I know of are in a continuous 'developer 
deficit' --- there's more work than workers. I understand that Debian is 
better off than some projects, but still there's an enormous amount of work. 
If it were as simple as dropping someone else's code into the existing base 
and knowing it wasn't going to break something, I'm sure they'd be jumping at 
it. They have in fact incorporated things developed by Ubuntu into Debian.

The package management system is the heart and soul of the distribution. Work 
on it is typically much more controlled and tested much more rigorously than 
any other part of the system (even the kernel in some cases.) It's one thing 
to grab an installer and modify it for use, it's something completely 
different to make changes to the package management system.

From what I understand, the differences are mostly in where software is 
installed to. For example, Xyz gets installed into /opt/Xyz/bin on Debian 
and /usr/share/bin/Xyz on Ubuntu. This sort of change is not something that 
can be integrated back into the Debian system, because it would break 
packages that expected to find Xyz at /opt/Xyz/bin. It's a change that's 
based more on someone's opinion of where packages should be located than 
anything else that I can tell.

Does this sort of thing break packages? Certainly. Is it fixable? Yes. But it 
takes an enormous amount of effort to go back through existing packages and 
have them: 1. check the location of Xyz before installation, 2. setup the 
package to use that location, 3. make sure the package (and all that depend 
on it)  works with both locations of Xyz, and be sure that every single 
package that depends on Xyz has those changes.

> Since Chuck was part of that original Debian "club" he should be
> qualified to answer that but I would also like for him to go back to his
> old comrades and ask that question - are they griping about a non-issue?

It's a valid question of 'are those changes worth the work it takes to 
implement them back into the upstream development?' Debian developers would 
probably say 'no, keeping the entire system stable is more important.' Ubuntu 
developers would probably say 'yes, this allows us to do ABC faster, and 
speeds development changes.'

Both are absolutely correct.

Debian developers will probably continue to do things the 'Debian way'.
Ubuntu developers will probably continue to do things the 'Ubuntu way'.
They will probably continue to work together to make both distros better (as 
they have been doing).

> Henry Keultjes
> Mansfield Ohio USA
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-- David

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