Systemd violates social contract

Here you can discuss every aspect of Debian. Note: not for support requests!

Re: Systemd violates social contract

Postby dasein » 2014-09-22 18:45

koanhead wrote:Debian is not a democracy but a 'do-ocracy' in which the people who do the work are the ones who make the decisions.

Then maybe it's time to purge all that "our priority is our users and their interests" talk in the social contract. High-sounding words to be sure, but if they aren't true, then repeating them merely out of habit is somewhere between pointless and hypocritical.

(Just sayin')
User avatar
dasein
 
Posts: 7775
Joined: 2011-03-04 01:06
Location: Terra Incantationum

Re: Systemd violates social contract

Postby koanhead » 2014-09-23 00:41

Pointing out who makes the decisions doesn't alter the priority that should guide the decisions. I presume the Debian Developers are all Debian users too, otherwise it seems like it would be hard to test things.

I don't think removing the idea that the priority is our users from the Social Contract is likely to be helpful. More helpful would be better methods of divining the interests of the users, and more people available and empowered to serve those interests.

I don't find the (non)word "do-ocracy" enshrined anywhere in the Policy Manual nor do I recall coming across it in other authoritative documents I've read, but my memory is not perfect. AFAIK it's just a neologism that someone (Lucas Nussbaum?) used to describe part of Debian's social dynamic.

Do you disagree that Debian decision-making is done by "those who do the work"? Do you think that fundamentally conflicts with "our priority is our users and their interests"? Or do you just think that the interests of users is under-represented in decision-making? Because if it's the latter, then I agree with you; if either of the former, then I don't understand what you're getting at.
User avatar
koanhead
 
Posts: 110
Joined: 2013-06-20 16:54

Re: Systemd violates social contract

Postby buntunub » 2014-09-23 04:48

Speaking for myself, I think the do-ocracy you speak of is OK so long as the users are polled on major decisions, such the one with Systemd. These things can be done intelligently. A simple poll asking the users, DDs, and Maintainers what their thoughts were about Systemd, and also to gauge the interests of alternative options would be, given the current state of DDs and Maintainers.

I can understand if there is a critical shortage of either or both driving a decision like the move to Systemd -- a monolithic system like that might be a tempting thing for those few who are doing all the work right now because it is so much less packages they need to worry about. However, laziness to streamline the Maintainer/DD process (which should have been done months, if not years ago) is no excuse to abandon the Debian userbase in favor of such a thing. What Edbarx says is reflective of how users feel about Systemd across the entire Linux community - not just Debian.

Lastly, I find it hard to believe that anyone who has been a member of this community would ~not~ want to contribute if the process was made less of a hassle.
User avatar
buntunub
 
Posts: 591
Joined: 2011-02-11 05:23

Re: Systemd violates social contract

Postby edbarx » 2014-09-23 05:37

Any system that facilitates software lock-ins is not in the interests of users, this is effectively systemd. Due to its coincidental complexity, and I dare say, due to its coincidental sponsor, systemd is effectively, a software lock-in for a huge subset of GNU software. GNU software was always about choice, this is sacrosanct and cannot be sacrificed, even if the gods happen to be wealthy money-weilding corporations.

Trying to argue that those who write software should make the decisions, is not the same as trying to justify that users are excluded from decisions, that primarily affect them, especially, if the decisions contradict what a distribution's manifesto clearly states. If DDs want to continue with this war-tank attitude, then it is time to remove the clause that states "our priority is our users and their interests". No, your priority is Red Hat lock-ins, as that is effectively the result of your 'casting vote' decision.

Keeping the Social Contract as it is allowing software lock-ins to creep in, is offending our intelligence.

Long life, CHOICE!
Debian == { > 30, 000 packages }; Debian != systemd
The worst infection of all, is a false sense of security!
It is hard to get away from CLI tools.
User avatar
edbarx
 
Posts: 5401
Joined: 2007-07-18 06:19
Location: 35° 50 N, 14 º 35 E

Re: Systemd violates social contract

Postby golinux » 2014-09-23 05:48

Well said. That is indeed the crux of the matter . . .
May the FORK be with you!
User avatar
golinux
 
Posts: 1538
Joined: 2010-12-09 00:56
Location: not a 'buntard!

Re: Systemd violates social contract

Postby mor » 2014-09-23 09:12

I would like to ask one question, mostly rhetoric and with no provoking intent whatsoever. I'll do so after putting beforehand the fact that I'm neither a supporter nor a detractor of the whole systemd adoption. (The reason is quite simple, I don't know nearly enough to make an informed decision, all I can do is use the OS with and without systemd, and say that as a user I could have even not noticed the change if it wasn't for the different commands needed to start and stop services.)

The question is: are we really, REALLY sure that all those who are opposing systemd, with or without possessing a full understanding of what it truly entails, are the majority of users?
Or even just a relevant minority?

I'm mostly asking this question because I've heard the argument of Debian Devs going against what the userbase wants many times but I've seen no data to support the claim (which is indeed admittedly difficult to produce).

I for one am of the opinion that very few possess the bare minimum understanding of what anything about this issue is all about (as I said, I am not one of the few), so to speak about the majority is quite moot because it includes the even greater majority of those who probably don't even know they have a init system and that systemd took over as default.
In this light a democratic approach would be in my opinion the stupider thing to do.
User avatar
mor
 
Posts: 970
Joined: 2010-08-28 15:16
Location: mor@debian

Re: Systemd violates social contract

Postby Randicus » 2014-09-23 11:29

mor wrote:... so to speak about the majority is quite moot because it includes the even greater majority of those who probably don't even know they have a init system ...

That is where the dividing line is. Generally speaking, experienced users who are also knowledgeable about the system are on one side of the argument, and people who who use the system without knowing how it operates are on the other. That is an over-simplification, but in general it reflects reality.
Randicus
 
Posts: 2664
Joined: 2011-05-08 09:11

Re: Systemd violates social contract

Postby saulgoode » 2014-09-23 11:40

mor wrote:The question is: are we really, REALLY sure that all those who are opposing systemd, with or without possessing a full understanding of what it truly entails, are the majority of users?
Or even just a relevant minority?

The argument presented -- that systemd violates the Debian Social Contract -- is not particularly premised upon the number of users opposed to or in favor of systemd; it is based upon the assessment that adoption of systemd is not in the interests of the users. A presumptuous assessment perhaps, but no more so than the alternative argument from those in favor of adoption.
Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it. -- Brian Kernighan
User avatar
saulgoode
 
Posts: 1545
Joined: 2007-10-22 11:34

Re: Systemd violates social contract

Postby mor » 2014-09-23 13:49

@saulgoode
You're right, my bad, my question was not truly relevant to the original point of this thread.
I kinda asked as if I was asking in every thread or discussion about systemd anywhere on the internet.

I personally don't see the move to systemd as a violation of anything in the contract or guidelines because Debian is only a distribution and if Gnome and others gang up with systemd "against the world", Debian can't do much about it.
Choosing Gnome and systemd as default, as far as I understand it, doesn't remove the possibility to choose other desktops and init systems and thus the possibility of its users to not have anything to do with systemd.

But maybe those who would consider this a violation are talking of a future where even other choices will be removed.
If that is so, I think it is unfair to say that Debian is violating the contract now, and quite frankly I'm inclined to think that if systemd is really the end of all that is good, something else will come up to offer a choice, maybe not for Gnome users, but what do they care, most of those who don't like systemd seem to be non-gnome users as well.

Randicus wrote:That is where the dividing line is. Generally speaking, experienced users who are also knowledgeable about the system are on one side of the argument, and people who who use the system without knowing how it operates are on the other. That is an over-simplification, but in general it reflects reality.

I'm not so inclined to see it like this.
I seriously doubt that the divide among knowledgeable people is strongly against systemd. If that was the case I think the status of things now would be different. After all the people in the high offices are the knowledgeable ones, not the average ones.

Moreover, you are repeating that the dissent about systemd is overwhelming (this time I mean among knowledgeable people), but repeating it doesn't make it true.
Do you have any evidence?

Actually I don't care about the evidence so don't rush finding it on my account (if you ever thought of doing it! :lol: ), but my question is simply aimed at stimulating all those who are convinced that their dissent about systemd is so widespread among people that understand the issue, to go look for a bit more data about how big (and how deep!) this dissent truly is.
User avatar
mor
 
Posts: 970
Joined: 2010-08-28 15:16
Location: mor@debian

Re: Systemd violates social contract

Postby edbarx » 2014-09-23 14:07

Beating round the bush will not change the nature of systemd. While systemd may appear appetising for beginners, this is because they don't understand that it is in effect a software lock-in. The latter is due to systemd's coincidental intermingleness with other non-related services which break the low end window managers and desktops. Furthermore, going away from promoting choice in a system as important as an init system, is definitely promoting lock-ins.

If DDs lack the manpower they need to keep users at the centre of the distribution's decisions, they should have sought to attract new programmers who are ready to give a hand. Whining about lacking manpower, does not justify going against the Social Contract, irrespective of whether one is labelled 'presumptuous' or not.

To understand what systemd does, is not an insurmountable conceptual challenge. systemd is a hodge-podge of unrelated daemons tied together in a contorted way to discourage forks, hence with the side effect of producing software lock-ins.
Debian == { > 30, 000 packages }; Debian != systemd
The worst infection of all, is a false sense of security!
It is hard to get away from CLI tools.
User avatar
edbarx
 
Posts: 5401
Joined: 2007-07-18 06:19
Location: 35° 50 N, 14 º 35 E

Re: Systemd violates social contract

Postby koanhead » 2014-09-23 23:31

The default-init situation is a symptom. The problem as I see it is twofold:

1) Debian doesn't and can't know what the users want.
As far as I know, Debian has two channels for information to pass from users to Maintainers: popcon and the BTS. popcon does very little: it provides statistics of package installation among a subset of unknown size of Debian systems. To complicate matters, it has no way to map package installation to actual users or actual uses.
The BTS is a BTS and not a method for polling users. There are various ways to use the data in the bug database to figure out things, but even if there were some reliable way to extract use statistics and user desires from BTS data, I suspect that relatively few users use the BTS. (Where "relatively few users" means "not a statistically significant sample of Debian users sufficient to determine the needs and interests of Debian users.) But I can't prove it, and as far as I know no-one can.
I spend about an hour every day on Debian stuff if I don't report any bugs that day. That hour is spent monitoring this forum, debian-user and debian-devel. I also hang out on #debian-offtopic, but since that's interrupt-driven I don't count it. I don't really have time to also monitor the BTS every day unless I reduce the time spent elsewhere or give more hours to Debian. There's a finite number of hours in a day, so it's hard to decide what to do... and there is not much official guidance on the subject from Debian AFAIK.
In order for Debian to know the needs and interests of its users, it needs to implement some means of communication between users and maintainers that binds specific users to specific "needs and interests", preferably anonymously. The only way to do this that I know about is to use cryptography, similarly to how Developers use their keys to vote in Debian's elections. How many users are willing to generate a 2048-bit key? Should the system do it for them?
In addition, the method of communication needs to be something users will actually use. It can require user interaction or not. If it doesn't, then what information should it collect, how should it get it, and how to protect it?
So, in order to solve #1, there are a lot of questions to be answered (many more than I've written here, but this post needs to be of finite length) and a lot of work to do.

2) There aren't enough developer-hours in the pool to achieve all the things users want.
In the absence of hard data about the needs and interests of users, Maintainers and Developers serve their own interests (fair enough, they are users too) and their ideas, accurate or not, about what the needs and interests of users are. The union of these two sets produces the set of things they think they should work on. Out of this set, they have to pick what they actually have time to work on. It's their place to make this choice, and no one else's place to dictate it to them. On the other hand, if the sum of their choices is incompatible with Policy or with the Social Contract, then they should not retain their status. It's the other Maintainers and Developers who decide this. That's the way it has to be, as long as Maintainers and Developers are the only identifiable entities within Debian- that is, those with keys in Debian's keyring who can make a statement and be counted. (Some people have keys in the ring and are not Maintainers nor Developers, so this condition doesn't entirely apply even now.)
An individual maintainer has a finite amount of time in a day. The more maintainers there are, the more time per day is available to get things done. The more time spent by Developers on running the New Maintainer process, the less time they have for reviewing code, uploading, working on their own packages and projects, etc.

If every Debian user spent an hour a day contributing to Debian, would there be enough time contributed to serve the needs and interests of the users? If so, is an hour a day a per user a reasonable cost for fulfilling that part of the Social Contract? If not, does that mean the Social Contract is invalid?

No matter how committed an individual is to Debian, there's a finite amount of time available to contribute. More contributors, especially more Maintainers and Developers, are needed. If voting Members represent a larger proportion of users, then it's likely that the needs and interest of users will be better served (assuming that users are capable of determining their own needs and interests.)
User avatar
koanhead
 
Posts: 110
Joined: 2013-06-20 16:54

Re: Systemd violates social contract

Postby buntunub » 2014-09-24 00:02

koanhead wrote:On the other hand, if the sum of their choices is incompatible with Policy or with the Social Contract, then they should not retain their status.


I agree. It may be time for a change of the guard in Debian. If there are not enough DDs and Maintainers, that is the fault of the current DDs and Maintainers, and really nobody else. They could have done so much by now to change the situation, but there has been only silence from their camp for the most part. Users also bear a fair share of the blame as well for letting things get to a sorry state (if that is indeed the case).

If there is a critical shortage of DDs and Maintainers in Debian after the purge, then Debian will most likely die, or grow stronger, yet this change must happen and will happen over time in any case. This is how evolution works. There is a choice to be made by everyone involved in Debian - DDs, Maintainers, users, and contributors - and that is, how much do you care about Debian? Do you care enough to get involved? If not, speaking for myself only, If some folks have lost interest or are tired, lost the spark, etc.. You should leave on your own accord. Preferably quietly. Bottom line, the Social Contract is not to be broken - for ANY reason whatsoever. It is a contract that is set in stone and should not be taken lightly. Truth be told, now is the time of the users, because if the Debian users let the Social Contract slip, then it will continue to erode due to apathy. Shame!

Now let's talk about FOSS and software freedom. Here we go RMS time! You won't hear me tell FOSS developers that they should work for free as RMS does, but the ideals of the FOSS movement are just as significant today as back in the early days. As a Debian user of any type, FOSS and it's ideals should be a concern. Ignorance of Systemd is no excuse. If you dont know enough about it, then go find out. Yet the question of wether or not the Social Contract has been broken by the Systemd decision is a valid and important discussion that everyone should be involved in if one cares about Debian. I think it has been an interesting discussion so far, from people in the Debian community who really care. I hope it stays that way. We can agree or dissagree on things, and that is fine and healthy in my book, but I hope this discussion around Systemd and Debians decision to move to it stays focussed and civil.
User avatar
buntunub
 
Posts: 591
Joined: 2011-02-11 05:23

Re: Systemd violates social contract

Postby saulgoode » 2014-09-24 03:11

mor wrote:I personally don't see the move to systemd as a violation of anything in the contract or guidelines ...

I agree. Nonetheless, this particular thread (at least for me) has provided some of the most reasonable discussion on the subject of systemd, with some important concerns being raised about the decision-making processes that has directed the Debian project along this path. And so I consider it beneficial to examine why some people feel this way.

In another thread you had pointed out that the systemd project satisfied the criteria of the Four Freedoms and thus properly qualified as "Free Software". You are absolutely correct in this, however, I would point out that those Four Freedoms are presented as "the four essential freedoms" -- they are the bare minimum conditions that need to be met -- and there is so much more that can be, and traditionally has been, done by projects to ensure and promote Free Software. Some examples:

  • Soon after the GIMP project's first release, they recognized that the graphical toolkit they'd implemented would be useful to other projects and split out that code as a separate library, allowing others to make use of GTK without having to build or install a monolithic GIMP.
  • GNU Autotools was created to facilitate development of software across multiple platforms.
  • The GNU readline library was developed to permit handling of language translations.
  • Debian's bug tracker was one of the first ever available (probably the first).
  • The Linux Documentation Project provided extensive documentation, How-tos, and FAQs. The Debian community played a major role in creating and administering TLDP.

None of the above activities were mandated by the Four Freedoms, yet it would be hard to imagine what the Free Software landscape would look like today, if it existed at all, were these extra measures (as well as thousands of similar activities) in supporting software freedom never taken; and one would be right to be concerned about what Free Software will be like in the future should it become acceptable today to abandon such practices going forward.

The Debian Project has always been at the forefront of "doing more" and I think many in its community are disappointed with adoption of a project, systemd, that eschews to the point of disdain such traditional best practices in developing software that not only meets the essential conditions of Free Software, but promotes its progress as well. Maybe it's not a direct violation of the Social Contract to do just the bare minimum but "doing more" to further software freedom is part of Debian's tradition and it has come to be expected as an integral part of the Project and the community.
Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it. -- Brian Kernighan
User avatar
saulgoode
 
Posts: 1545
Joined: 2007-10-22 11:34

Re: Systemd violates social contract

Postby edbarx » 2014-09-24 06:29

Choice is negatively affected, meaning users have far less freedom with systemd. Lesser choice is the opposite of what GNU/Linux users want, especially ripe ones. Most newbies usually wouldn't have understood what GNU/Linux is all about, as that takes time.

Lesser choice does not favour users, therefore, cancers like systemd, can never be in the interests of users. This is my logical argument and of many others, what is yours, would I be wrong to assume it is more denial?

P.S.
Is being forced to replace one's older computer, which used to work with lighter WMs, in the interest of users, as that is effectively what the situation will be with systemd?

Welcome to DebMSWindowz! :shock:
Debian == { > 30, 000 packages }; Debian != systemd
The worst infection of all, is a false sense of security!
It is hard to get away from CLI tools.
User avatar
edbarx
 
Posts: 5401
Joined: 2007-07-18 06:19
Location: 35° 50 N, 14 º 35 E

Re: Systemd violates social contract

Postby mor » 2014-09-24 10:15

saulgoode wrote:I agree. Nonetheless, this particular thread (at least for me) has provided some of the most reasonable discussion on the subject of systemd, with some important concerns being raised about the decision-making processes that has directed the Debian project along this path. And so I consider it beneficial to examine why some people feel this way.

And I agree as well, I asked my question exactly in this spirit.

If those who have the necessary knowledge want to have a constructive discussion about systemd and its repercussions, they should make sure to base their convictions about things like "how widespread is the dissent" on more solid ground than simple personal perception.

That's pretty much what I wanted to point out.

saulgoode wrote:In another thread you had pointed out that the systemd project satisfied the criteria of the Four Freedoms and thus properly qualified as "Free Software". You are absolutely correct in this, however, I would point out that those Four Freedoms are presented as "the four essential freedoms" -- they are the bare minimum conditions that need to be met -- and there is so much more that can be, and traditionally has been, done by projects to ensure and promote Free Software. Some examples:

I can see that, but not going the extra mile cannot be seen as a violation of the contract or guidelines or of the freedom of the license as some comments seemed to suggest.
In fact that was the issue I was addressing in that post you mentioned, not how good the systemd project is in terms of overall contribution to the free-software world.

As for this point it must be said, and you have the understanding that I don't possess to get what I'll say better than I do, that certain choices in software development do automatically close certain options.
Sometimes things like coding in language A preclude the code to be run in environment B or on architecture C and so on. Nobody would necessarily deem the choice of a developer to only code for one environment, or a subset of all, as a violation of the freedom of a GPL3 license because -for instance- it is technically impossible to port on other systems.

edbarx wrote:Choice is negatively affected, meaning users have far less freedom with systemd. Lesser choice is the opposite of what GNU/Linux users want, especially ripe ones. Most newbies usually wouldn't have understood what GNU/Linux is all about, as that takes time.

I don't disagree with the fact that something like systemd, by being monolithic (I take your word for it), does limit the possibilities to do without it or even just change stuff within it, but unlike you I don't see this as "limiting the choice", but rather as "having something that doesn't offer so many choices".

Practically the difference is not much, but in terms of ideology and adherence to the principles that guide Debian, it is immensely different (think about my last comment in response to saulgoode).

I am repeating something that I have said earlier, but Debian did not remove all other inits and DEs and software that is not dependent on systemd.
Debian didn't drive Gnome and others to the decision to become systemd dependent and its (re)adoption of Gnome as a default DE and consequently of systemd as default init (with all that it entails), doesn't prevent users from installing their favorite non systemd-dependent set of software.

Debian still maintains the choice, therefore where do you see the violation?
Wherever the violation is, if there is indeed a violation, it can't be ascribed to Debian in my opinion.

You have been very vocal about the fact that alternatives to systemd will come up exactly because of the free nature of its license and of Debian's principles.
In this light your last few comments are kinda puzzling don't you think? ;)
Last edited by mor on 2014-09-24 16:42, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
mor
 
Posts: 970
Joined: 2010-08-28 15:16
Location: mor@debian

PreviousNext

Return to General Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests

fashionable