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Bits From the DPL (June 2019)

Dear Debian:

There are some amazing perks for being DPL.  For me the best is that I
can justify the time necessary to follow what is going on in the

Again and again I'm amazed at the effort and care that goes into making
Debian great.

This month I'll focus on the release team.  I've had the honor of
following their work.  It looks like debian-release has received over
2200 messages since I started following in late April.  Most of those were related to
unblocks for buster.  The release team has been hand reviewing code
changes throughout the freeze.  What's amazing to me is how much care
they put into balancing some really thorny issues.

I kind of thought that the release team was all about rigidly
interpreting the freeze policy.  While they certainly do say no to a lot
of changes, real time and effort is put into balancing the important
trade offs.  They are not shy in asking developers to do their part of
the job.  But they slogged through a lot and carefully considered
complex questions about how to get the greatest stability for Debian.

Their work and that of the security team is a huge part of why Debian
stable releases are so rock solid.

Which brigs us to:

Buster Release!!

The buster release is this weekend, July 6. [1]
If you have time this week or Saturday please test installer images; see
[2] for instructions.

There are a number of release parties [3]; thanks for all the hard work
let's have fun.

Ironically, there don't seem to be any release parties scheduled on the
US East Coast.  It feels wrong to be DPL and to not have anyone to
celebrate our success with.  If anyone in the Boston area would be
willing to get together, please reach out to me privately (making sure
*not to copy debian-devel).  After this week it would be great to get
together with people in a positive atmosphere!

  [3]: https://wiki.debian.org/ReleasePartyBuster

Requiring dh In Some Situations

I published my consensus call on the discussion about using dh [4].  I
also opened a policy bug [5] and a lintian bug [6] to implement the
major conclusions of the discussion.

If I understand policy process, I think the policy bug is waiting for
another second (or someone to bring up more issues).  So I'd appreciate
it if folks familiar enough with policy could take a look there.
It's been great to see this moving so fast.

  [5]:  https://bugs.debian.org/930666
  [6]: https://bugs.debian.org/930679

Git Discussions

We've had great progress in June on discussing Git packaging.  I started
a thread where I tried to explore differences between tools like
`debcheckout` and `dgit clone` and the audiences they serve [7].

Ian Jackson published [8] a survey of git packaging practices.  This
attempts to catalog the different types of git branches we're using in
our packaging work today.

During some of the discussions we talked about the idea of marking what
kind of git tree we have so that tools can know what they are operating
on.  It's somewhat more tricky than we might like to do that because
tools like dgit may want to transform the git branch structure without
affecting the resulting source package.

I'm running a BOF [9] at Debconf where we can collect some of the
requirements for git packaging in Debian.  I already know we'll have
conflicting requirements like choosing a single maintainer branch format
while supporting at least several of the common formats.
The point is to understand all the things people want not to judge them.
It seems very likely that interested parties will also be getting
together to try and design solutions at Debconf.

In my last bits mail I said that I would start a discussion about Git
and Salsa this month.
I didn't end up starting that discussion for two reasons.  First, the
lists have been kind of busy in June.  We need to give people a chance
to follow things and understand that we all have finite time.  It's been
kind of exciting to see all the great discussion on the debian-devel
list, but we can only run so many discussions at once.
Also, personally, my June has been taken up with other issues I'll get
to in just a few paragraphs.  I think this week is going to be taken up
with Buster release prep for a lot of people.

I plan to come back to facilitating Git discussions on the lists in
August after our Debconf conversations.

  [7]: https://lists.debian.org/msgid-search/tslwohl8hg0.fsf@suchdamage.org
  [8]: https://lists.debian.org/msgid-search/23830.35269.24584.99695@chiark.greenend.org.uk


The Antiharassment, Debian Account Managers and DPL teams met in
Cambridge UK for a closed meeting.
We discussed how these three groups interact around making our community
welcoming and the Code of Conduct.
We went over some past and current cases, and reviewed the
antiharassment team feedback that I solicited from the current team,
former team members, and the community.

I think we had a very productive meeting.  Unfortunately, the upcoming
buster release and some post-meeting internal discussions have slowed
down us publishing our results.

I think the following items are coming in the near future:

* I'll publish a slightly redacted set of slides with the feedback I
  presented at the sprint.

* Prior to Debconf I'm hoping that we'll see a proposal from the AH team
  on its scope and new name.  I plan to facilitate a discussion to
  confirm consensus with the project.

* I'll be publishing some of my thoughts on what we could do better in
  the future.

* We will be engaging with other teams as appropriate.  As an example,
  the way Debian LDAP and Salsa work today make it hard to suspend an
  account or move someone from DD status to DM status while letting them
  continue having access to repositories for packages they maintain.
  The same issue shows up when someone retires.  Sometimes that's a
  feature; sometimes it is not.  So I'll be reaching out to the Salsa
  admins and DSA to explore this issue.  We had a bit of discussion on
  debian-devel about this already, but really the next step is to
  actually work with the responsible teams.

Several people have expressed worry about what would happen if the
antiharassment team had a concern about what they are doing.  I wrote up
my thoughts [10] on how to approach such a conversation in a
constructive manner.  We'd much rather work with people to build our
community than focus on sanctions.


The Hard Side of DPL

The last couple of weeks have been difficult emotionally.  I've reached
sufficient understanding of some parts of Debian where I think I  have
sufficient information to believe that change is necessary and to know
what change I'd like to make.
Unfortunately some of the decisions the DPL faces are painful.  You know
people aren't going to like the decisions.  Even one person yelling,
telling you how much what you are doing hurts them is challenging to
face.  Especially when they are right.  And sometimes you've been
bracing for that because you're sure it's the right decision anyway.
Sometimes it's unexpected.

Almost always as you go forward you learn things you could have done
better (and will try to do better next time).  Sometimes you know it is
still painful.  Sometimes with what you learned you could have entirely
avoided ruining someone's (or your own) day or week.

The last two weeks have been dreading that, confirming that sometimes
the things you think are going to be hard actually really are hard, and
planning for more of the same.

And yet even so there are really wonderful moments that remind me that
we have a great community it is wonderful to be part of.


As always, I welcome feedback about this message or any other part of
the DPL job.

I regret that this message didn't have the typical set of upcoming links
that have closed Bits from the DPL for the last while.  Debconf is the
big upcoming thing besides Debian 10.  And I need to get this sent out
and get into work so I can help test some Buster images and

Sam Hartman

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