McIntyre is a petrolhead and made the two-hour drive from Cambridgeshire to the London Docklands to see the motor show along with two mates, one of them, Neil McGovern, a work colleague and fellow Debian developer. While most people his age at the show sported various motoring slogans on their attire, he was more conscious of being a part of Debian - his black T-shirt bore the slogan: "Debian. The best a geek can get."
The project has now more or less frozen the next version, Lenny, and is hoping to release it in September. McIntyre said that despite the timely release of the last version, Etch, people often tended to keep bringing up the delay associated with the release of Sarge (which took more than three years). He says that aiming for an 18-month release cycle is what the project plans and even if that stretches out by another six months it would be acceptable.
"We've already released once on this kind of schedule but people have long memories. The release team is now working on things right from the beginning. People will always want to knock us, the best thing we can do is to give them timely releases," he says.
How does he see Debian in comparison to commercial distributions like Red Hat and SUSE? In terms of support, he admits that the commercial distros have the advantage. But when it comes to technical details, like packaging for example, he feels that Debian stands up well in any comparison.
"Technically I think we're the best out there. Instead of people who are paid to do work as a day job, we have people around the world who are working on this because they passionately believe in what they are doing. It may not be the most efficient - we cannot promise a release every 12 months, for example, - but we have people who really want to do things like packaging etc the right way, not just working towards a deadline. We don't necessarily have to do something a particular way - we can do the right thing."
There are other plus points to being a volunteer project. "For instance at Linux shows, if an idiot comes to our stand and starts making trouble, you don't necessarily have to be diplomatic which you would have to be if you were wokring for a company - you can tell them that they are idiots. We don't have to spin things, everything we do is completely open. Every now and then we get egg on our faces, like with the recent OpenSSL screw-up. But we have some of the brightest people on the planet working for us and I wouldn't swap what I was doing for anything in the world."