i can't believe this is being moderated as Insightful. What are you mods thinking!?
i'm a huge fan of djb's work, and i use his software (and i use Debian), but quoting his theories about cross-platform compatibility as support for your argument is pretty weak. djb's strong suit is his technical and mathematical rigor, not his infamous interpersonal skills.
For those of us who maintain more than a handful of machines, cross-package similarity is a real and significant advantage:
- Just installed package foo, but don't really know quite how you might use it best? debian policy lets you confidently look in /usr/share/doc/foo and know that you'll find *something* that the package maintainer thought would be worth reading, even if it's only the changelog.
- package doesn't have a man page? thanks to policy, that's an actual bug, not just an inconvenience.
- need to understand exactly how service foo starts and stops? you can read /etc/init.d/foo
- where are the config files? you can find them in /etc/foo/
- and so on...
djb is right that cross-platform incompatibility is a significant hassle. But what's his solution to that? He invents a whole new filesystem standard (see "Filesystem layout" on this page)! I respect the man for his technical prowess. And i'll grant that his proposed scheme probably makes more technical sense than the FHS, when viewed in isolation.
But you don't achieve cross-platform compatibility through technical rigor. You achieve it through compromise, social and political consensus, transparency, legacy support, and published standards. The FHS currently represents all of those things, as does debian. In fact, that's why debian endorses, attempts to comply with, and contributes back to the FHS, because it is committed to cross-platform compatibility.
djb's technical nit-picking, while usually a good thing, does him a disservice in this particular area, and debian gets it right.