In my first post about my current problems with Debian, I noticed that there doesn't seem to be a common vision of Debian's future. My last post was about Debian's current state of moving from stable release to stable release without actual aims.
Today I would like to rant about our lack of enthusiasm. Could you name the biggest new feature of Debian Etch? I think the graphical installer is very cool, it made the installation look a lot friendlier and made translations to languages not based on the Latin alphabet easier. But what else happened in Etch? We added SecureApt, which might be cool if you are a hardcore hacker, but leaves most people bored. The same is true for using UTF8 for new installations and the addition of udev to the default install. If you don't know where I got this impressive list of thing - look at the Debian Wiki.
Most of the things listed on that page miss the bling we see in other distributions. Ubuntu 7.10 introduced Compiz bling while Fedora 7 had full NetworkManager support and tried to "just work" [tm]. Yeah, Debian isn't that far away from such things, whenever we release, such things are also picked up. But somehow it doesn't look like people would get out and party because we include the newest and coolest feature - no, Debian Developers prefer to discuss such things as the default MTA.
Of course, we need to discuss the default MTA - and exim4 might not be perfect for the job - but we should also start to think about advertising the features that impress non-geeks, so that we can go out and say "Hey, lenny came out and now we have a full dependency based init system and a smaller MTA and our kernel is now completely free of binary blobs" to our geek friends, while our non-geek friends can hear about the new easy-to-use and beautiful desktop environments and configuration applications that allow them to just install and use their Debian, without moving to a command line once.
We are half-way there. Debian is cool. Debian becomes better every day (*cough* please look away from the RC bug graph, thanks). We should start telling people about it and have fun doing so.
IMHO the switch to modular X.org may be the biggest change.
Ubuntu 7.10's Compiz was "bling" because not everyone has it. Unfortunately Debian 4 was released with delay and there was nothing impressive in its Compiz. I never heard of Network-Manager as something really bling. Anyway, with rare releases, it's hard to be "bling" from upstream software.
Indeed, you can't both have long release cycles and coolest/newest, particularly with long freezes. Ignoring testing, it's not honest to say that Debian is coolest or newest.
It's good to be enthusiastic, but with moderation - Debian is far from perfect. If you push enthusiasm too far, it becomes fanatism. If you find something in Debian is cool, feel free to blog about it...or advertise it!
I simply don't understand why people freak out and party for the release of some piece of software at all. It's nice to see progress but after all software is a tool to work with.
Ok Mac people are different in that way by nature but I can't see why someone should adopt this kind of euphoric dance for new products in other fields.
Maybe I should ask my baker for a release party whenever he has some new kind of bread to sell.