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Bits from the DPL -- 2016Q4

Dear fellow developers,

This report is rather overdue and I apologize for the delay.
Fortunately, individual requests and budget approvals have been dealt
with in time.

Since it's been a little while since my last report, I thought I could
add a few bytes to my bits. The result is a bit on the lengthy side.


I attended DebConf16 and had the extraordinary opportunity to catch up
with old friends, make new ones, and exchange ideas with many people.

I'd like to thank all those who contributed to DebConf16's success!
The same goes for all those who are pushing to finish DC16's final
report ;-)

I hope everyone enjoyed DC16 as much as I did.

During the conference, I scheduled a few talks/BoF sessions:
- The customary "bits from the DPL" talk [1]
- "Debian from 10,000 feet" BoF [2], co-organized with Lucas Nussbaum
- Roadmap BoF [3] to discuss with interested contributors about the
  goal behind the idea and how to get started with idea.
- "DebConf handover" BoF [4]
- Using Debian Money to Fund Debian Projects [5], co-organized with
  Raphael Hertzog

[1] https://debconf16.debconf.org/talks/51/
[2] https://debconf16.debconf.org/talks/134/
[3] https://debconf16.debconf.org/talks/122/
[4] https://debconf16.debconf.org/talks/123/
[5] https://debconf16.debconf.org/talks/41/

Project Roadmap

First, if you haven't read my slides [3] on the roadmap, please have a
look before reading what follows.

Our project is about a thousand strong. Each one of us working on some
set of features in the OS. It is not easy (even for project members)
to keep track of what's going on within the project. It is even harder
to get a picture of our global strategy. Yes, we do have one, and each
one of you is contributing to it!

The goal of a roadmap for our project is to communicate on the
significant changes underway and build a coherent global strategy. I
believe this helps us to better advertise our work, eases the task of
attracting new contributors and enhances our chances of getting new

In order to make this happen, we need a team which will build the
roadmap based on input from project members. The role of the Roadmap
team is to collect ideas, publish in a periodic fashion an update of
the full roadmap, and monitor progress of each item to make sure
somebody is working on it. Communicating on individual or team efforts
may also help to attract new contributors.

The choice of making a new team to drive the roadmap is crucial since
it helps to:
- avoid concentration of power
- avoid the DPL as a blocking factor in the process
- give more stability to the roadmap, more than a DPL term

Initially, I thought the Technical Committee could be the Roadmap team
and I've asked them to formally state their position.  They did in [6],
stating “[they] shouldn't be part of the regular workflow of the
Roadmap team. [They] will always be available for escalations, as usual”.

[6] https://bugs.debian.org/830344

The next step is to form a team of volunteers and start working on
this project.

Debian from 10,000 feet

Many of you are big fans of S.W.O.T analysis [5], I am sure of that!
:-) Technical competence is our strongest suit, but we have reached a
size and sphere of influence which requires an increase in

We all love our project and want to make sure Debian still shines in
the next decades (and centuries!). One way to secure that goal is to
identify elements which could put that goal at risk. To this end,
we've organized a short S.W.O.T analysis session at DebConf16. Minutes
of the meeting can be found on our gobby server [7]. The report is
quite long and quite interesting (for old-timers as well
newcomers). It helps to convey a better understanding of the project's
status. For each item, we've tried to identify an action.

[7] gobby.debian.org:debconf16/bof/10,000 feet

Here are a few things we've worked on:

- Identify new potential contributors by attending and speaking at
  conferences where Free and Open Sources software are still not very
  well-known, or where we have too few contributors.

  Each Debian developer is encouraged to identify events where we can
  promote FOSS and Debian. As DPL, I'd be happy to cover expenses to
  attend such events.

- Our average age is also growing over the years. It is true that we
  could attract more new contributors than we already do.

  We can organize short internships. We should not wait for students
  to come to us. We can get in touch with universities and engineering
  schools and work together on a list of topics. It is easy and will
  give us the opportunity to reach out to more students.

  It is true that we have tried in the past to do that. We may
  organize a sprint with interested people and share our experience on
  trying to do internships on Debian-related subjects. If you have
  successfully done that in the past and managed to attract new
  contributors that way, please share your experience with us!

  If you see other ways to attract new contributors, please get in
  touch so that we can discuss!

- Not easy to get started in the project.

  It could be argued that all the information is available, but rather
  than being easily findable from on starting point, it is scattered
  over several places (documentation on our website, wiki,
  metadata on bug reports, etc…).

  Fedora [8] and Mozilla [9] both worked on this subject and did build
  a nice web application to make this easier and nicer. The result of
  this is asknot-ng [10].

  [8] http://whatcanidoforfedora.org/
  [9] https://whatcanidoformozilla.org/
  [10] https://github.com/fedora-infra/asknot-ng

  A whatcanidofor.debian.org would be wonderful! Any takers?

  We can help by providing a virtual machine to build this. Being a DD
  is not mandatory. Everyone is welcome!

- Cloud images for Debian.

  This is a very important point since cloud providers are now major
  distributions consumers. We have to ensure that Debian is correctly
  integrated in the cloud, without making compromises on our values
  and philosophy.

  I believe this item has been worked on during the last Debian Cloud
  sprint [11]. I am looking forward to seeing the positive effects of
  this sprint in the long term. I believe it does help us to build a
  stronger relationship with cloud providers and gives us a nice
  opportunity to work with them on a shared set of goals!

  [11] https://lists.debian.org/debian-sprints/2016/11/msg00018.html

During next DebConf, we can review the progress that has been made on
each item and discuss new ones. In addition to this session acting as
a health check, I see it as a way for the DPL to discuss, openly and
publicly, about the important changes that should be implemented in
the project and imagine together a better future.

Reimbursement for BSPs

Stretch's full freeze is approaching and I expect some Bug Squashing
Parties to take place [12]. In order to encourage project members to
attend BSPs and squash bugs, and just like Lucas did in 2014 [13], I
am willing to reimburse up to USD 100 (or equivalent in your local
currency) for your travel and accommodation expenses for participating
in Bug Squashing Parties. This should be enough to help attend a
local/regional BSP. If there's no such event, it might be a sign that
one should try to organize such an event.

[12] https://wiki.debian.org/BSPPlanning
[13] https://lists.debian.org/debian-project/2014/11/msg00050.html

Such reimbursement requests must meet the following conditions:
- The requester must already be a Debian contributor (and preferably
  have demonstrated an ability to contribute to this kind of work): I
  don't think that we should extend the sponsorship to people who are
  not yet involved in Debian.
- The requester should agree to communicate about his/her activities
  during the BSP, for example in a blog post: the goal here is to
  increase the visibility of such work and contribute to making it
  everybody's problem.
- As usual, this must follow the processes described at [14].

[14] https://wiki.debian.org/Teams/DPL/Reimbursement

DD certificates for new members

Hey new project members!

Joining Debian is not only getting a debian.org account to make
uploads, it is also:
- The right of voting during elections or general resolutions
- Visibility as a representative of the project in your area
- The ability of nominating yourself for DPL elections
- An opportunity to join a core team and help on our infrastructure,
  documentation, communication processes, etc…

Most importantly, joining Debian is joining an incredible project
made by wonderful people that share the same values!

As such, and since August, I've started to periodically welcome new
members by sending them a short personalized e-mail accompanied by
their new DD certificate.

To make this effort sustainable, I have:
- Asked Debian Account Managers to send me a notification
  each time a contributor gets their debian.org credentials
- I have wrote a small script [15] that is able to generate a DD
  certificate, thanks to nm.debian.org's API.

[15] https://anonscm.debian.org/cgit/dpl/dpl.git/tree/dd-certificate/generate.sh

This makes generation of DD certificates effortless and only leaves
checking its correctness and writing a nice welcome message.

The script is a quick hack. If you have suggestions on how to improve
it, patches are very welcome :-)

* Thanks to NVIDIA for donating four 32-bit ARM Jetson TK1 Developer
  Kits to Debian developers.
* Other approved expenses can be found in my day-to-day logs below.

Day-to-day log
My day-to-day log of DPL activities is available on master.debian.org:
- /srv/leader/news/bits-from-the-DPL.txt.2016*



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