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Bits from the Technical Committee

Hello everyone,

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.  Last year we moved most of the contents of that
talk into a "Bits from the Technical Committee" mailing, and spent our
BoF discussing what we are now calling our "Reimagining the TC" project.
That was well received, DebConf is all-online again, and while our
thinking about the future of the TC has become more focused, it is still
a work-in-progress.  So we would like to do the same this year.

I won't cover what the TC is here. It's defined in quite some detail in
our constitution and there is also a useful page on www.debian.org:


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 31st December 2020, the term of Philip Hands reached its limit.  We
would like to wholeheartedly thank Phil for all his work on the

In March 2021, we welcomed a new team member: Christoph Berg.  Thank you
very much, Christoph, for agreeing to be part of the committee.

This is our current roster and expected term limits assuming nobody

 * Sean Whitton <spwhitton> (chair) - until Dec 2024
 * Margarita Manterola <marga> - 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
 * Elana Hashman <ehashman> - until Dec 2024
 * Christoph Berg <myon> - until Dec 2025

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

Previous members of the TC are listed here:

What we've done since last year

We were asked to make several decisions this year.  However, aside from
administrative matters, we needed a formal vote for just one of our
decisions.  In another case we did not need to make a decision because
circumstances changed, but we played a part in keeping things moving.

Decision made

* #971515 excessive vendoring (private libraries)

  This bug was a request to overrule the new maintainer of the
  Kubernetes package, who had recently rewritten the packaging.  The new
  approach involved significantly more embedded code copies than did the
  old one.  We declined to overrule the maintainer and accepted the
  level of vendoring in the package.  Our reasons for this are here:
  LWN wrote about the discussion: <https://lwn.net/Articles/835599/>

* #976462 Should dbgsym files be compressed via objcopy
  --compress-debug-section or not?

  This bug was a good example of how the TC is not just for arbitrating
  disputes -- in this case, the debhelper maintainer took advantage of
  the constitution's provision for maintainers to delegate decisions to
  the TC that they would prefer not to take themselves, for whatever
  reasons.  We decided that debhelper should continue to use
  --compress-debug-section, for reasons given here:

* #978636 move to merged-usr-only?

  We were asked to decide whether or not Debian 'bookworm' should
  continue to support systems which are not using the merged-usr
  filesystem layout.  We decided that support should not continue beyond
  Debian 'bullseye'.  The decision is captured here:

Declined to rule

* #975075 Should NetworkManager support elogind?

  We were asked to overrule the maintainer of network-manager and
  udisks, to restore sysvinit scripts recently removed from the
  packages, and to adjust the package dependencies in order to support
  usage with elogind.  We were also asked to issue a more general ruling
  to cover similar cases.

  Together with several interested parties, we managed to achieve a
  compromise solution to the dependencies issue in which some hard
  dependencies were demoted to recommendations, such that elogind,
  network-manager and udisks can be used together:

  We declined to issue a more general ruling, and while we also declined
  to rule on restoring the sysvinit scripts, said scripts are now
  available in a separate package.

* #975381 libinih: drop Debian's custom vendorisation

  We were asked to overrule the maintainer of libinih.  However, it was
  not clear to us that this was really a Debian matter rather than one
  for our derivatives, and we didn't receive enough information from the
  participants in the dispute to enable us to proceed, despite repeated
  requests.  So we closed the bug without any decision:

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
two such bugs this year.

* #982987 Call for votes for new CTTE member
* #985270 Resignation + Call for votes for new Chair

Reimagining the TC

As mentioned, at DebConf we will have a talk to continue to discuss this
matter.  Of the original five proposals, we are currently focused on
proposals 1 and 2, and our plan is to discuss those at the BoF.  We are
currently in the process of writing up new notes on these two proposals,
which we intend to add to our git repository in advance of our talk.

You can view the original proposals on salsa, though please be aware
that there has been a lot of discussion since this text was written:

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

For the Technical Committee:
Sean Whitton

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