0. Who are you and what is your history with Debian Project?

I guess this part is well covered in my platform.

1. What is your most proud moment as Debian Developer?

I am pretty proud of having been part of the few who implemented the first automatic dependency resolver for OCaml programs and libraries in Debian packages. It was really the first one in the OCaml community and we were quite proud of it. But that was done before I become a Debian Developer.

As a DD, I have to admit I am quite proud to be part of the Release Team. It is a fantastic team where there is so much to do. Helping the team means something to me, and I invested a considerable amount of time (a few months) working on reviewing patches for Squeeze and helping to get it ready by our standards. My best moment was Squeeze's release, my first Debian release as Release Team member.

2. In your opinion what is the strongest part of Debian Project?

I am not sure we can identify one single strength of the Debian project. But, when I think about your question, I remember something I've heard many times: “Debian is about people”. I have to admit that I didn't realize it myself until I heard it for the first time and I completely share the idea! For me, all the technical side of the project comes after the community. With time, I think we managed to build a strong community. Many contributors became friends with time. We are seeing many Developers having babies and bringing them to Debian events. I find that really amazing.

3. And what is the weakest part of Debian Project?

Our strength is somehow also our weakness. We are humans and make mistakes. We have feelings and some discussions get heated sometimes. It is not easy to keep everyone calm and focused. We have seen the damage that was caused to our core community last year with all the flamewars. Many people lost their motivation and we have seen some of them stepping down. We are also having troubles on-boarding new contributors, which is a problem today because some teams are under-staffed and could become an even bigger issue on the longer term.

4. How do you intend to resolve the weakest part?

An effort has already been made on this front. We can mention the introduction of the Code of Conduct and the diversity statement, for example. Both are important and make us a more welcoming and caring community.

In my platform, I mentioned some ideas about recruitment and change management. I believe that both sides will help us to get a stronger community. Moreover, a DPL should act as a mediator to help some situation get through. This is one of the DPL tasks that is not formally identified and is usually under-estimated.

5. DPL term lasts for one year - what would you challenge during that term and what have you learned from previous DPL's?

Personally, the main thing I have learned from past DPLs is that communication is very important. A DPL should dedicate time to communicate about ongoing actions and achievements. It is also important to remind a few things even if it may sound repetitive or trivial:

  • Why such action/subject is important.
  • What actions have been tried/done in the past.
  • What progress has been made since last time.
  • What is possibly the next step.

If the communication is only about listing some actions, many people will miss its essence and its goals. It is even more important when we know that some actions may take years (thus, several DPL terms) to complete.

If I am elected as DPL, I'd really like to help the project to publish a roadmap. I think it is very important to set goals to the project to better explain our philosophy and approach in the Free Software world. This may also help to attract new contributors which may be interested by one or some items. Of course, I will not work on that subject only. I invite you to read the rest of my platform to see the other ideas.

6. What motivates you to work in Debian and run for DPL?

Many many things. And more importantly, many many people

As many of us, I like programming and socializing. It feels nice to be part of such a big project and where you can do many different things. I contribute to Debian because I find it fun and let me meet people I will not have been able to meet elsewhere.

In my platform, I tried to identify ideas I'd like to see implemented, or at least started. Since Debian is a do-ocracy, I thought I could try to get them implemented by myself. I think that those ideas are important for the Debian community and will help us moving forward. Running for DPL is also another way of contributing to Debian and I'd feel honored to represent Debian.


0. Who are you and what's your history with Debian Project?

I'm a little mouse behind a keyboard, going by the nickname "algernon". I used to be a lot of things: a flaming youth, an application manager, package maintainer, upstream, ftp-assistant, a student, a mentor, a hacker. In the end, however, I am but a simple, albeit sometimes crazy person.

I did a number of things within Debian - mostly small and marginal things, mind you. With a little break, I've been here for over a decade, and am planning to stay for at least another.

1. What's your most proud moment as Debian Developer?

At last year's LinuxTag, I was wandering around a stand where they sold Raspberry Pis (with cases and other accessories). I had a nice chat with one of the staffers there, inquired about the price (including the case, of course), and a few other things. He asked a few things back: what I'll be using it for, and so on. After it turned out that I'm a Debian Developer, and syslog-ng hacker, he went to the back, and emerged a few minutes later with a boxed up Pi, and gave it to me as a gift, for working on Debian.

This was an incredibly touching moment, in many, many ways.

2. In your opinion what is the strongest part of Debian Project?

That's hard to say, to be honest. There are a good number of things Debian is incredibly strong at, and it would be hard to arbitrarily pick one. Quality, responsibility, safety, predictability are all areas we are very good at. But those are the qualities of the OS. As a project, we are remarkably well organised, given the volunteer & distributed nature of the project.

3. And what is the weakest part of Debian Project?

While we can resolve and work with technical issues in a reasonable manner, the project as a whole is rather lacking in all other areas. To grow beyond being the creators of the Universal OS, we, as a project, need to pursue goals beyond the OS.

Being part of GSoC and Outreachy are great steps forward. But we still have a lot of internal issues that need to be resolved. Areas such as innovation, team work, where we're in dire need of improvement.

4. How do you intend to resolve the weakest part?

As explained in my platform, my primary goal is to remove roadblocks. The DPL can do very little alone, his time and powers are better spent on enabling those who have the required skills and desires, to pursue those.

5. DPL term lasts for one year - what would you challenge during that term and what have you learned from previous DPL's?

The most valuable thing I learned from past DPLs is that the expectations are sky-high, yet, a significant portion of what the DPL does is very different than what I imagined in past years.

I'd like to challenge the status quo of the DPL being a nearly full-time job.

6. What motivates you to work in Debian and run for DPL?

I'm in it for the fame and glory, of course! And because my Tamagotchi told me to.

But on a more serious tone, my main motivation to work on Debian is because contributing makes me happy. It satisfies my hunger for doing useful work. Debian is - in my opinion - the perfect platform to give back to the wider Free Software community. Similarly, my motivation to run for DPL is to allow Debian to be a stronger member of that greater


0. Who are you and what's your history with Debian Project?

My name's Neil, I've been involved with Debian for over 10 years now. I've held a variety of roles, from the SPI board, writing policy and secure testing team, to being one of the Release Managers for Squeeze and Wheezy.

1. What's your most proud moment as Debian Developer?

Probably the release of Squeeze, my first as RM. It was the end of a great effort to get the release out. I particularly remember at the end of DebConf 10 in New York going to the local Disney store and buying every single small squeeze plush toy they had, so I could send a thank you gift to the rest of the release team! Another perhaps was when I first got my Debian kilt.

2. In your opinion what is the strongest part of Debian Project?

I think this is our social contract. It guides us, and is what we all agree on. This is our promise to ourselves, to the wider open source community and to our users.

3. And what is the weakest part of Debian Project?

At a push, I'd say it's the variety of packages we have in the archive. I'm not sure it's weakness, but it's certainly a challenge. It becomes exponentially harder to ensure that everything integrates well as you add more packages. To have made it do so this far is quite impressive.

4. How do you intend to resolve the weakest part?

Well, see the section in my platform on PPAs, and modernising our build and infrastructure system Wouldn't it be great if you could stage a package against all of stable, testing and unstable, and see what fails to build and where, with live build logs on all architectures?

5. DPL term lasts for one year - what would you challenge during that term and what have you learned from previous DPL's?

I think my primary role as DPL for 2015 would be to get a great start of development for Stretch. The start of a new release cycle is the exact time to implement wide changes that are potentially disruptive. Every couple of years we seem to relax after the release, rather than get geared up for the next one, and then time passes, and plans slip, and before we know it, the freeze is fast approaching. If we start planning /now/, then we can hopefully enter the freeze with fewer RC bugs, which should be great news for everyone! For the second part, I've talked to a lot of the previous DPLs, and worked with them in one role or another. The main thing I was told was that I shouldn't try and do everything I planned on. It's hard work, and all sorts of things pop up that derail your original plans.

6. What motivates you to work in Debian and run for DPL?

The people involved. I've met and worked with some of my greatest friends due to the project. The work, dedication and commitment of those over the years is outstanding. Most of these people are still with us, and unfortunately, a few are not. Whenever I'm feeling disheartened or annoyed, usually due to a giant flame-war then I simply remember that what we're doing is truly remarkable, and the effort that everyone has put in over the years isn't something that should be taken for granted.


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.


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