Debian Dissension Gets Louder

Not everyone in the Debian community is happy with the Debian Core Consortium Alliance.

The Debian Common Core Alliance hasnt even been formally announced yet at LinuxWorld in San Francisco this week, and already one of its prospective members, VA Linux Japan, is explaining why it isnt joining.

"It is true that VA Linux has been asked to join the DCC [Debian Common Core] Alliance. However, while we support the DCC Alliances objectives by and large, we have a different opinion on the way to achieve them," said Shuji Sado, VA Linux Japans VP of marketing.

VA Linux has not ruling out ever joining the DCC.

"Therefore, we do not plan to actively participate at this stage. Chinas Sun Wah Linux, a VA Linux partner, will attend the assembly at LinuxWorld, but we do not plan to do so," said Shuji.

Sources have already said that Sun Wah will be a formal member of the DCC.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about the DCC Alliance.

Shuji continued, "We completely support the DCC Alliances aims for attaining Debian conformity to the LSB standard and its efforts to promote selection of Debian on the enterprise market."

The DCCs goals include creating a common Debian Linux distribution for the enterprise based on the LSB (Linux Standard Base) 3.0 and Debian Sarge.

/zimages/6/28571.gifTo read a review of Debian Sarge, click here.

"Nonetheless, we believe that this activity should be carried out as much as possible within the Debian Project. At this time, the DCC Alliance and the Debian Project are separate entities, and the DCC Alliances release of the Debian Common Core, even though it is argued as 100 percent Debian interchangeable, is certainly a fork in the Project," said Shuji.

"This is because the thousand Debian Developers who have not joined the DCC Alliance will be excluded, raising the fear that, in the long term, it could lead to the breakup of the Debian Project."

In addition, VA Linux fears, "there might be a problem [with] … a release by the DCC Alliance, an organization that exists outside of the Debian Project, [because it] cannot be Debian," said Shuji.

"This is because the DCC Alliance does not have rights to the Debian trademark. At least, the name Debian Common Core will give a false impression on our customers."

This is an issue, which emerged on the Debian mailing lists. It is still being discussed on these the lists.

The potential problem exists because Debian is a registered trademark of SPI Inc. (Software in the Public Interest).

"SPI, Debians 501(c)3 corporation, is not directly involved in the DCC effort," said Bruce Perens, well-known open-source advocate and SourceLabs Inc. vice president.

"I am a director of that corporation [SPI], and am involved in DCC, but those are separate activities," added Perens.

His involvement with the DCC stems from his leadership of UserLinux, a Debian-based Linux distribution.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more here about the UserLinux initiative.

Because of this, "VA Linux believes that, at the very least, if the DCC Alliance is going to put out a release named the Debian Common Core, it must get approval, such as winning widespread support within the Debian Project," said Shuji.

"VA Linux has six Debian developers and maintains more than 200 packages, and worldwide there are few businesses with 15-person Linux kernel developing units. As a business of this standing, we approve of the DCC Alliances aims, but we hope that organization takes the form of a Debian subproject."

Ian Murdoch, de facto leader of the DCC Alliance, Progeny Linux Systems Inc. and Debian founder, would be pleased to see that happen.

"I, for one, would be very happy to see this become an official Debian subproject, and I think its safe to say the consensus agrees with that," said Murdoch.

"Im just going into this not assuming anything. To be fair, were pretty early on in this.

"We werent planning on talking about any of this till this week. The details are still being worked out, and I think its safe to say VA will be pleased in how those details end up being resolved."

More generally speaking, Murdoch added, "Yes, VA has its own view about how exactly we should be going about this. So does everyone else—we all agree 100 percent on the generalities, but on the specifics, were not 100 percent in agreement and probably never will be, realistically speaking."

"For example, you quoted someone in your last story who was disappointed the DCCA wasnt going more along the lines of UnitedLinux, which is pretty much the complete opposite of the approach VA appears to want," Murdoch said.

"Indeed, this is why most consortiums fail to achieve anything—if you have to have unanimity to do anything; youre never going to do anything. So, in order to achieve what we hope to achieve, were each having to compromise on certain details when the consensus takes a different view from our own," said Murdoch.

"For some, compromise is acceptable; for others, it isnt. Thats just the way consensus-driven organizations work."

The DCC Alliance will formally announce its existence on Tuesday at LinuxWorld Conference & Expo.

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