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The Debian 2.2 release press conference

The Debian press conference to announce the release of Debian 2.2 was held in a large meeting room, with attendance available to evertyone, not just members of the press. A stage in the front of the room demonstrated a historical perspective on Debian leadership, including Ian Murdoch (the Ian in Debian), the original founder of Debian, Bruce Perens, also a former Debian project manager, a Wichert Akkerman, the current Debian project manager. They were flanked by two large screens, the left displaying multiple IRC chat sessions that were allowing Debian developers all over the world to participate in the announcement, and the right displaying a map of the globe with markers for the locations of the 500+ Debian developers. Scott McNeil from VA Linux moderated the press release, which included comments from both Linus Torvalds and Larry Augustin in support of Debian.

Ian Murdoch spoke of how and why he chose to begin the Debian project and why he chose to emulate Linus' development model. "I knew I didn't have the time nor the expertise to do it all myself, so I took the Linux development model." He also credited the Free Sofftware Foundation for providing some limited funding and hardware that was critical to getting Debian going.

Bruce Perens, who was Debian Project leader himself for two years, spoke as well. He commented on how the GPL allows companies to pay developers to work on Debian. "Everyone feels they are doing something good for the world, yet no one is afraid of getting ripped off." He also mentioned that finding out that 15 minutes of his time to answer a question resulted in Debian flying on the space shuttle was more exciting to him than his one-line credit on the Pixar movie Toy Story.

Wichert Akkerman spoke of the dedication of the Debian 2.2 release to Joel Klecker who died recently. He then demonstrated the upgrade of a Debian slink system (Debian 2.1) to potato (Debian 2.2) in thirteen minutes. A single command was typed, no questions were asked, no errors displayed and a reboot was not required (and, obviously, the kernel was not upgraded as part of the upgrade script). Presumably a kernel upgrade requires an additional step and an actual reboot.

The press conference finished with drawings for prizes. Unfortunately, only VA Linux employees appear to have picked up their tickets for the drawing! They managed to hand out third and second level prizes, then awarded first prize to the first person to answer the question, "In what year did the Debian development begin?" Many people answered the question simultaneously and correctly (1993), but LWN editor Liz Coolbaugh was one of them and at least clearly known *not* to be a VA Linux employee, so she got to take home first prize.

Her prize included a talking potato head (given to all winners), a bottle of potato vodka (also awarded to the second prize winner) and finally, a date with a Debian developer anywhere in the world. She graciously accepted, but warned that she might have to bring her husband along on the date. Meanwhile, we have not yet confirmed whether funding for this date has actually been made available, but we promise to pursue the issue, to see if we can get the opportunity to interview one of the worldwide Debian developers "in their native habitat".

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