It's again that time of the year for the Debian Project: the elections of its Project Leader! Starting on March 31st, and during the following two weeks, the Debian Developers will vote to choose the person who will guide the project for one year.

Among this year's candidates there is the current DPL, Lucas Nussbaum, who admits that "the workload involved in being the DPL is just huge," and motivates his nomination with the need for stability in the project in this release cycle, especially after the difficult decision about the default init system. In his platform, Lucas speaks of technical and social steps to improve the project: from reproducible builds for a more secure archive to a renewed effort to run Debian on new platforms (especially smartphone and tablets); from a more welcoming approach to prospective contributors to an easier collaboration with organizations.

The only other candidate left after Gergely Nagy withdrew his nomination, is former Release Manager Neil McGovern. Neil's platform focuses mainly on the need to "ensure that we cater to our users, and there's millions of them. From those running the latest software in unstable, to people who simply want a rock solid core release." In his opinion "the size of Debian is increasing, and will reach a point where we're unable to guarantee basic compatibility with other packages, or the length of time it takes to do so becomes exponentially longer, unless something changes." To fix this problem, Neil proposes the implementation of PPAs (Personal Package Archives), the modernisation of the current build and infrastructure system as well as generally supporting the various teams.

The campaigning period will last until March 30th: the candidates are already engaged in debates and discussions on the debian-vote mailing list where they'll reply to questions from users and contributors.


The Debian Project Leader election has concluded and the winner is Lucas Nussbaum. Of a total of 988 developers, 390 developers voted using the Condorcet method.

More information about the result is available in the Debian Project Leader Elections 2013 page.

The new term for the project leader will start on April 17th and expire on April 17th 2014.


We have asked Moray Allan, one of the three candidates for DPL elections 2013, to tell our readers about himself and his ideas for the Debian Project.

You can also read the interviews to the other two candidates: Lucas Nussbaum and Gergely Nagy.


Please tell us a little about yourself.

I'm Moray Allan, from Edinburgh in Scotland. I'm 32. After working in academic research for a few years, I'm now working freelance on a wide mixture of topics, with recent projects in Indonesia, Romania and Kuwait. When I'm not working, I'm likely to be found walking through a city or the countryside, or otherwise relaxing at home reading a novel in French or Spanish.

What do you do in Debian and how did you started contributing?

In recent years, most of my Debian time was taken up organising the annual Debian conferences. But I still have a load of packages, mostly connected to an upstream Linux-on-handheld-computers project I was working on before I joined Debian to create packages for it.

Why did you decide to run as DPL?

I've been involved in Debian for about 10 years now, including working for the last few years in DebConf in a way similar to how the DPL acts within overall Debian. Previously I'd ruled out running due to lack of time, but currently I'm in a more flexible work situation. It seems the right time to put myself forward, and see if the ideas in my platform interest project members.

Three keywords to summarise your platform.

Transparency, communication, openness. (Three ways I'd like us to think about teams in Debian.)

What are the biggest challenges that you envision for Debian in the future?

I think the biggest challenges are for free software in general.
End-users are moving to more closed hardware -- will our software be able to run on the phones and tablets people are shifting towards? At the same time, end-users and server users are moving to "the cloud", and often depending more heavily on non-free infrastructure outside their own control.

What are, in your opinion, the areas of the project more in need of technical and/or social improvements?

In my platform I give a few ideas about teams and delegations, coordination and mediation, and both internal and external communication, including more organised fundraising. These are areas where I think relatively simple changes can give big benefits.

Why should people vote for you?

I have proven leadership experience within Debian, as I've been working on coordination and mediation tasks for some years already. At the same time, I do regular packaging work, and work in other parts of Debian like the press and publicity teams, so I'm in touch with the experience of normal Debian contributors. People should vote for me if they support my platform, which is about coordination-level changes that I would have no mandate or authority to push through unless I am elected.

Name three tools you couldn't stay without.

APT, emacs, ssh.

What keep you motivated to work in Debian?

I've used Debian on all my computers for a long time, and by now working on the distribution myself feels a natural part of that.
Fortunately I'm constantly positively surprised by Debian and by the Debian community.

Are there any other fields where you call yourself a geek, besides computers?

Certainly history (such as the eastern Mediterranean region in late antiquity), languages (including dead ones) and music (especially Josquin to Monteverdi).


We have asked Lucas Nussbaum, one of the three candidates for DPL elections 2013, to tell our readers about himself and his ideas for the Debian Project.

You can also read the interviews to the other two candidates: Gergely Nagy and Moray Allan.


Please tell us a little about yourself.

Hi! I'm a 31 years old french computer geek. In my day job, I'm an assistant professor (Maître de Conférences) of Computer Science at Université de Lorraine.

What do you do in Debian and how did you started contributing?

Like many, I started contributing to Debian by creating and maintaining packages for my own software, in the Ruby team. Then, I discovered that, even if it's not so obvious from the outside, there are a lot of areas in Debian that could use more contributors. So I just started to contribute to more and more things.

There's a list of things I did in Debian in my platform. What I have been doing recently is:

  • rebuild all packages in Debian on a regular basis in order to identify packages that can no longer be built, and file bugs accordingly. In order to do that efficiently, I use cluster and cloud resources (more info)

  • develop and maintain Ultimate Debian Database, a data aggregator that collects data in most Debian services so that it is possible to expose it in interesting ways (e.g. find release-critical bugs affecting popular packages).

  • write and maintain a Debian Packaging tutorial, (packaging-tutorial package), to provide an easy-to-read introduction to packaging in Debian.

Why did you decide to run as DPL?

Two main reasons:

  • Most of my Debian contributions aim at addressing problems at the distribution scale (cross-distro collaboration, Quality Assurance, data-mining). Being DPL is a great way to contribute to Debian at this level.

  • the DPL campaign is a great time in Debian where we discuss the project's problems, politics and visions. Being a candidate is in itself a way to contribute to Debian (though it would be better if we had those discussions outside DPL campaigns too).

Three keywords to summarise your platform.

(re-)make Debian the center of the Free Software ecosystem; foster innovation inside Debian; reduce barriers to contributions

What are the biggest challenges that you envision for Debian in the future?

I often have the impression that the project is losing momentum, positive energy, and slowing down. It feels like we are living on the benefits of the past. A lot of very cool things happen in the Debian ecosystem, but very often outside the Debian project (in derivative distributions).

Debian should aim at reinforcing its position in the center of the Free Software ecosystem: it should be the main active intermediary between upstream projects and final users. To achieve that, we need to reinforce the visibility and the impact of Debian. This is extremely important because the values we fight for as a project are often neglected by our derivatives.

What are, in your opinion, the areas of the project more in need of technical and/or social improvements?

Fostering innovation inside Debian: we should be more welcoming towards innovation and experiments inside the project. Often, we merely tolerate them, and bureaucracy makes them hard and slow to conduct. As a result, people tends to innovate outside the Debian project.

Making it easier to contribute to Debian: we compete with more and more projects to attract contributors. While we are already quite good at welcoming new contributors with good documentation and mentoring (much better than people usually think), there's still a lot of room for improvement.

Why should people vote for you?

A great thing in Debian's voting system is that you don't vote "for" or "against" a specific candidate. Instead, due to our use of the Condorcet method, you rank candidates (and also indicate those who you consider suitable for the role by ranking a virtual "None of the above" candidate).

Why am I a good candidate? My previous contributions to Debian show that I have a pretty good understanding of the inner workings of the project, and that I have a track record of managing projects successfully inside Debian. I think that those are two required qualities for a DPL.

Name three tools you couldn't stay without.

vim, mutt, ssh.

What keep you motivated to work in Debian?

Debian is a fantastic project from a technical point of view (focus on technical excellence, lots of interesting challenges), but also from a social point of view: the Debian community is a great community where I have lots of good friends. Also, what's great when you contribute to Debian is that your work has a real impact, and that you see people using stuff you worked on everywhere.

Are there any other fields where you call yourself a geek, besides computers?

I'm not sure this really qualifies as "besides computers", but I've gotten very interested in the OpenStreetMap project lately. I very much enjoy exploring unmapped areas on a mountain bike. It feels like being Christopher Columbus or Marco Polo, but 20 minutes from home. ;) The OpenStreetMap and Debian projects also share many values, such as a great attention to quality and details.


We have asked Gergely Nagy, one of the three candidates for DPL elections 2013, to tell our readers about himself and his ideas for the Debian Project.

You can also read the interviews to the other two candidates: Lucas Nussbaum and Moray Allan.


Please tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Hungary, a little bit over three decades ago, as a son of a biochemist and a pharmacist, who gave me the name Gergely Nagy (however, online - and offline too by now - I'm mostly known by my nickname, algernon).

I went on to study human arts (hungarian grammar & literature, in particular), and to support this passion, I work as a software engineer, one who gets paid to work on free software. As such, I'm in a fortunate situation where my hobby supports my passion, and my hobby aligns well with my Debian work too.

What do you do in Debian and how did you started contributing?

At the moment, apart from maintaining a few packages, I'm doing a few other, mostly invisible things, like reassigning misfiled bugs so they don't end up being forgotten; or review newly uploaded packages before they enter the archive, making sure we are allowed to distribute them, and that their quality is up to our standards. I used to do quite a lot of other things, but I chose to spend the past year mostly invisible, learning.

I started contributing by packaging an editor I was using at the time, but quickly ended up adopting another package - things escalated from there quickly.

Why did you decide to run as DPL?

There were two reasons that motivated me to run: one is that I believe I can bring something new to the table, that I can help Debian expand in new directions. The other reason is that I'm always on the lookout for new ways to contribute back to Debian, and being the project leader is a position where I believe I could contribute most at this point in time.

Three keywords to summarise your platform.

Non-technical contributors.

What are the biggest challenges that you envision for Debian in the future?

The biggest challenge is growing up, to become more than a group of computer geeks creating an amazing distribution. To become a community of a wide variety of people, where both computer geeks and art geeks feel equally at home. Yet, at the same time, where we as a project, keep our focus straight, and be the champions of Free Software.

We just need to realize that there's much more to Free Software than the software itself.

What are, in your opinion, the areas of the project more in need of technical and/or social improvements?

I believe that while we do have many areas where we could use technical improvements, we are reasonably safe there, because we do have very skilled technical people to help us solve these problems. We can make our tools better, we can develop our infrastructure better to aid us even more - and so on and so forth. While we need work on many areas, we're on the right track there.

However, when it comes to social issues, we're at a loss. We have serious trouble keeping certain topics civilised on mailing lists, we have trouble attracting women, and we have trouble reaching people who are not naturally exposed to Debian (or Free Software). We could really use a more diverse community, but that requires us to overcome quite a lot of social roadblocks, so to say. Outreach is one particular area where we need much more technical and social improvements.

Why should people vote for you?

People should vote me, because they found my platform, my answers on debian-vote@, and my ideas and goals convincing and worthy to pursue. People should vote me, because they trust I'll be able to serve the project well.

Name three tools you couldn't stay without.

Emacs, git and a pencil. Because with these three, I can pretty much do anything.

What keep you motivated to work in Debian?

The community. Over the years, I had the good fortune to meet with a lot of people I hold in high esteem, whose enthusiasm and motivation I found inspiring. For any other common goals Debian and I may share, in the end, it is the people within Debian that keep me motivated.

Are there any other fields where you call yourself a geek, besides computers?

I'm not quite there yet, but I'm working hard on becoming a human arts geek, or at least a geek of the hungarian language.


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