The discussion over whether to put AMD64 processor support into the
Sarge and Sid releases of the Debian distribution has heated up.
The discussion has been brewing for some time, particularly since Chris Cheney's
to the debian-devel-announce list on July 1:
The Debian AMD64 port now has more installed packages than even powerpc making it the second most complete port behind i386
. The port is still waiting on Scott Remnant to fix dpkg and for James Troup to allow it into the archive. I sent an email to ftpmaster over 2 weeks ago with no response about the archive issue.
Also, I am starting to get questions from companies and universities running Debian asking when amd64 will be an official port since they are planning to switch to Fedora/SUSE if it is not soon. Do we really want to lose users of a popular platform due to a couple DD's lack of response? If you are concerned about this issue as well perhaps an email to firstname.lastname@example.org could help persuade them this is a larger issue than they realize.
After much discussion on Cheney's post, Josselin Mouette proposed a General Resolution (GR) that would require "amd64," based on the pure 64-bit port, to be included immediately in Sid and the auto-building infrastructure, and that Sarge include the amd64 port. The GR also gives amd64 a pass on Linux Standard Base (LSB) compliance, so that non-compliance with the LSB would not be considered a release-critical bug.
The discussion on the debian-devel has largely conflagrated into a flame-fest of near-epic proportions -- mostly unrelated to the merits of including amd64 in Sid or Sarge.
One can understand why Debian users and developers may be frustrated at the lack of progress in an official AMD64 port. It is not unreasonable to expect a response on such an important issue within a two-week period. Even a terse reply is better than silence.
However, it is probably a bad idea to rush the process excessively as well. As Thomas Bushnell states:
Being a part of sid and testing is a requirement for being a part of stable, and regardless of whether something has been excluded from sid for good reasons or bad reasons, it shouldn't be put in stable by some kind of end-run around sid and testing.
Goswin von Brederlow suggests an alternative draft that might make the GR more acceptable. This draft would "overturn the decision (made through inaction) to block amd64 from sid by the ftp-master team," unless amd64 is added to sid, or the ftp-masters team steps up to explain why amd64 should not be added to sid, or there is a change in the ftp-masters team that would "facilitate better communications."
At this time, the GR to force AMD64 into Sarge and Sid is waiting on a fifth sponsor to move its status to discussion. Cheney had originally signed on as a sponsor for the GR, but has apparently withdrawn his support for the GR. It is probably for the best that this GR does not come to a vote, in order to allow everyone some cooling-off time on the issue.
It is a shame to see something as desirable as an official amd64 port becoming the victim of poor communication (or no communication) and/or personality conflicts. Though there are indeed technical issues to be sorted through to make an official amd64 port happen, it seems that they have taken a back seat.
There is little doubt, at least in this writer's mind, that 64-bit extensions to the x86 architecture are likely to become the standard over time -- and sooner than the next stable release of Debian after Sarge. If the amd64 port is delayed until after the Sarge release, it seems likely that Debian will lose a number of users who are unwilling to wait until that time to make use of their 64-bit hardware or stay on the 32-bit path.
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