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Debian Project Leader report for 2005-04-24

Here is the first of my reports as Debian Project Leader.  You may read it
in HTML format at:

or in ReStructured Text format below.

Debian Project Leader Report for 2005-04-24

As promised in `my platform`_, this is the first of my periodic reports
to the Debian developers on the tasks I have been undertaking since
being elected Debian Project Leader (DPL).

Sarge Release Challenges and Progress
The issue foremost on most people's minds is, of course, the status of
the Sarge release process.  While many of us had our attention focused
on the Project Leader election, the ARM port suffered a debilitating
setback when two of its build daemons, ``europa`` and ``elara`` were
rendered inoperative.  The administrator at the hosting sponsor,
`Xandros`_, reports that the 2.5-inch hard drives within each of these
NetWinder machines are making unpleasant noises.

The good news is that we seem to be in a position to recover.  Steve
McIntyre has placed an ARM, ``toffee``, in a position where it can do
some good; the ``needs-build`` backlog is dropping accordingly.  (See
`Ian Lynagh's statistics`_ for more information.) Gerfried Fuchs has
retrieved another ARM, ``grieg``, from Othmar Pasteka, and is putting it
into operation.  More good news is that Ryan Murray has been making
progress with preparing the ``testing-proposed-updates`` and
``testing-security`` environments on the build daemons.

The Release Management team plans to have another release update ready
in the coming days.  I should, however, caution us collectively
regarding a phenomenon they have witnessed in the recent past: when a
positive-sounding release update is sent out, the scramble to get
non-release-critical changes into unstable renews, and the build daemons
consequently bog down, not just due to the load, but due to the
inevitable failures-to-build-from-source (FTBFSes) that result due to
sloppy errors made in the frenzy to "get that one last set of fixes in
before the freeze".  Please don't do that.  These actions do not bring
the Sarge release closer; they push it farther away.  Use the
``experimental`` upload target, exercise restraint, or consult with your
fellow developers or with members of the Release Management team to
establish the urgency of your upload vis-a-vis the Sarge release.

I offer a status report on the Sarge release because of its criticality,
and because as DPL I want to do everything I can to keep our developers
and users apprised of this central issue.  If the release managers see
that this report is correlated with a spike in reckless uploads to
unstable, however, I will be forced to refrain from offering them.  As I
said in all three of the interviews I conducted recently (see
`Interviews and Public Appearances`_, below), my top priority as DPL is
to not get in the way of the Sarge release.  Please do not put me in the
awkward position of having to refrain from reporting on this issue to
serve that goal.

Woody Security Update Challenges and Progress
The ARM problems we've had have also affected the timeliness with which
we've been able to get security updates out.  A security fix to
``xfree86``, for example, has been stalled for weeks because no ARM
build daemon has been operational to compile it.  (See `Debian bug
#298939`_ for details.)

Debian Assets
I've been trying to get an idea of what organizations around the world
hold assets in trust for the Debian Project.  The only body with much in
the way of formal recognition, of course, is `Software in the Public
Interest, Inc.`_ (SPI), which is explicitly mentioned in section nine of
our `Constitution`_.

SPI holds approximately USD 40,000 in cash assets, and the `Debian UK
Society`_ recently founded by Steve McIntyre holds about GBP 2,0000.
There are also people or organizations in (at least) Italy and Brazil
holding some money in trust for Debian.  In the case of Brazil, some
cash had to be left in the country after `DebConf 4`_, apparently
because it proved difficult for the money to be taken out of the
country.  It has therefore served as seed money for a new organization.
I expect to be in touch with these organizations shortly.  If you know
of any other organizations holding cash in trust for the Debian Project,
please let me know.

The issue of non-cash assets is more difficult to nail down, and the
enumeration of these will likely take some time.  If you're interested
in assisting with this task, please contact me and the Debian
Accountant, Benjamin "Mako" Hill.

Leadership Team Status Report
The leadership team affectionately(?) known as "Project Scud" held its
first meeting on 24 April 2005 at 2200 UTC.  The `meeting agenda`_ was
mailed to the `debian-project mailing list`_ shortly prior to the
meeting.  In the future, we expect to have the agenda published farther
in advance of the meeting so there is a useful public comment period.
We continue to grapple with ways to balance openness and accountability
with the discretion that some issues sometimes require, and welcome your
feedback on how we can better achieve this.  Andreas Schuldei
volunteered to be our secretary, and minutes of the meeting will be
posted to the -project list as soon as they have been prepared and
approved by those in attendance.

One thing I thought I would note in advance of the meeting minutes is
that we voted to extend an invitation to Benjamin "Mako" Hill to join
our numbers, and he accepted.

Interviews and Public Appearances
I haven't made any public appearances yet, but I have been invited to
`FISL 6.0`_.  I hope to attend this conference, and am working on the
details of sponsorship for my flight and visa fees.

Three interviews with me have appeared over the past week.
Interestingly, each was conducted (predominantly) via a different
medium.  Please let me know in which forum I make the best (or worst)

* `email interview with Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier`_
* `IRC interview with Rob Levin`_
* `phone interview with Bruce Byfield`_

I'm pretty happy with all of the above interviews, and do not feel
misrepresented.  If you have any concerns about about any of the issues
in the above interviews, I urge you to contact me.

Internal Communications
Much of the initial mail I received at the ``leader`` alias was, as you
might expect, CCs or forwards of messages regarding ongoing business
that Martin Michlmayr was involved in when his term ended.  The very
*first* message I received via that alias was -- as you might expect --
Nigerian 4-1-9 spam.

Martin has been very helpful and responsive with the transition.  Some
of the matters not already mentioned above and currently under
discussion are:

* developing contacts at `Sun Microsystems`_
* establishing a backup site for ``snapshot.debian.net``
* sponsoring Debian Developer attendance at `aKademy 2005`_
* developing a more comprehensive backup strategy for machines critical
  to Debian's infrastructure
* working with `SPI`__ to figure out how to invoice IBM (at their request)
  for their sponsorship of `DebConf 5`_

Items of Interest
I have run across a couple of interesting articles and thought I would
commend them to wider attention:

* `Anthony Towns's analysis of Ubuntu Hoary Hedgehog`_
* `Rafael Laboissière's election analysis`_

That's all I have for now.  I hope you have found this report useful,
and I welcome your feedback on how I can improve on it for next time.

``$Id: 2005-04-24.rst 140 2005-04-25 05:45:14Z branden $``

.. _`my platform`: http://people.debian.org/~branden/dpl/campaign/2005/platform.xhtml
.. _`Xandros`: http://www.xandros.com/
.. _`Ian Lynagh's statistics`: http://people.debian.org/~igloo/needs-build-graph/index.php?arches=arm&days=60
.. _`Debian bug #298939`: http://bugs.debian.org/298939
.. _`Software in the Public Interest, Inc.`: http://www.spi-inc.org/
__ `Software in the Public Interest, Inc.`_
.. _`Constitution`: http://www.debian.org/devel/constitution
.. _`DebConf 4`: http://www.debconf.org/debconf4/
.. _`Debian UK Society`: http://wiki.earth.li/DebianUKSociety
.. _`meeting agenda`: http://lists.debian.org/debian-project/2005/04/msg00324.html
.. _`debian-project mailing list`: http://lists.debian.org/debian-project/
.. _`FISL 6.0`: http://fisl.softwarelivre.org/6.0/
.. _`email interview with Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier`: http://www.linux-mag.com/content/view/1870/2107/
.. _`IRC interview with Rob Levin`: http://dunnage.blogspot.com/2005/04/interview-with-branden-robinson.html
.. _`phone interview with Bruce Byfield`: http://distrocenter.linux.com/article.pl?sid=05/04/19/164235&from=rss
.. _`Sun Microsystems`: http://www.sun.com/
.. _`aKademy 2005`: http://conference2005.kde.org
.. _`IBM`: http://www.ibm.com/
.. _`DebConf 5`: http://www.debconf.org/debconf5/
.. _`Anthony Towns's analysis of Ubuntu Hoary Hedgehog`: http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/blog/2005/04/14#2005-04-14-sarge-v-hoary
.. _`Rafael Laboissière's election analysis`: http://people.debian.org/~rafael/dpl-vote-2005-analysis/

.. vim:set ai et sts=4 sw=4 tw=72:

G. Branden Robinson
Debian Project Leader

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