Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
Before the Soviet Union collapsed, the Communist state had a vast manufacturing base. The problem was that the quality of most of what it manufactured was rubbish. Take a look at any Soviet era car and you'll get the idea.
Why was that? Talking to a Russian engineer the other day — let's call him Yuri — I asked him why Soviet manufacturers so rarely improved or updated the goods they used to make. "If they did that," Yuri told me, "they would have hurt the other factories that made similar goods. Why would they have wanted to do that? The other factories weren't competitors, they were friends."
Now we all know in a capitalist system, the competition is there to be crushed. Inefficient companies or those with inferior products lose out to better companies and products, and the principal of survival of the fittest means the consumer gets an ever better deal.
OK, enough economics 101, already. The reason I mention all this stems from an offer made by Ubuntu head honcho Mark Shuttleworth to put some of his staff to work on the Debian distro, to help Debian developers get ready for a proposed code freeze in December. Underlying this is a desire on Shuttleworth's part to get as many distros release cycles as possible "in sync," which would, Shuttleworth believes, benefit the entire Linux community — from the distros themselves to upstream developers and end users.