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Bits from the Technical Committee

Traditionally at DebConf there's a Technical Committee BOF where we discuss
what the TC is, who the current members are, and what we did during the last
year.  This year, we want to spend our 45 minutes discussing how the TC can be
of more value to Debian, so we decided to send the yearly recap as a "Bits"
email instead.

I won't cover what the TC is here. It's defined in quite some detail in our
constitution: https://www.debian.org/devel/constitution#item-6


The TC membership has a term limit, which means that members of the committee
rotate regularly. The algorithm for determining when those rotations happen is
rather complicated (see Constitution item 6.2.7), so there's always a chance
that we might get this wrong.

On December 31st, 2019, the terms of Didier Raboud and Tollef Fog Heen reached
their limit. Thanks Didier and Tollef for your time in the committee!

On June 3rd, 2020, we welcomed two new team members: Sean Whitton and Elana
Hashman. Thanks Sean and Elana for agreeing to be part of the committee :).

This is our current roster and expected term limits assuming nobody resigns:

 * Philip Hands <philh> - Until Dec 2020
 * Margarita Manterola <marga> (chair) - Until Dec 2021
 * David Bremner <bremner> - Until Dec 2021
 * Niko Tyni <ntyni> - Until Dec 2022
 * Gunnar Wolf <gwolf> - Until Dec 2022
 * Simon McVittie <smcv> - Until Dec 2023
 * Sean Whitton <spwhitton> - Until Dec 2024
 * Elana Hashman <ehashman> - Until Dec 2024

The chair of the committee is elected by the current members.  There's a not
constitutionally-mandated tradition of resigning and calling for votes on a new
chair whenever the roster changes, to allow all current members to express
their opinion on the matter.

Previous members of the TC are listed here:

What we did since last year

The last 12 months were not particularly active with regards to requests for
committee decisions. We didn't vote for any non-administrative matters, but we
did give some advice.

Advice given

* #932795 - How to handle FTBFS bugs in release architectures

  This bug was about handling of bugs and priorities for FTBFS bugs that occur
  under specific conditions (like how many CPUs the builder machine has). After
  discussing the issue with the involved parties, we came to the conclusion that
  the problem was not technical but rather social in nature. We gave some advice
  on the matter, which is here:

* #934948 Dropping dependencies to avoid extra binary package when same source
  package targets more than one environment

  This bug was about a conflict that arose from trying to avoid dependencies
  that might only be necessary under some specific condition (for example, a
  javascript library could run on the browser and thus not need an
  interpreter).  There was a long discussion and in the end the committee
  gave a rather lengthy piece of advice in the matter, which is captured
  here: https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=934948#54

* #963112 - Request for advice on katex rejected by ftp masters

  This was another instance of a communication problem between a maintainer and
  the ftp-team. Our advice on the matter was to keep communicating amicably
  until an agreement could be found:

Declined to overrule
* #947847 - please install systemd-sysusers using update-alternatives

  We were asked to overrule the systemd maintainers in their decision not to use
  the alternatives system for systemd-sysusers and systemd-tmpfiles. After a lot
  of discussion, we came to the conclusion that we agreed with the systemd
  maintainers that using the alternatives system was not the best technical
  solution, and so we declined to overrule them.

  We suggested other options that could be followed to get to the same desired
  result, without the problems identified with using the alternative system.

  Full decision here:

Administrative bugs

Every decision taken by the TC happens through the BTS, including voting on new
members and on who the chair of the committee should be. We had three such bugs
this year.

* #961153 Call for votes on TC membership of Sean Whitton
  (#961150 had an invalid ballot and got closed without a vote)
* #961156 Call for votes on TC membership of Elana Hashman
* #965080 Resignation + Call for votes for new Chair

How can the TC provide more value to Debian

Tomorrow, we have a talk on this matter. This talk is a continuation from the
talk given in 2019 on the matter, and we will discuss proposals 1 to 4 from
this doc:

We welcome your feedback and questions before, during and after the talk.

Marga on behalf of the Technical Committee

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