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Re: Amendment to the Constitution: Add a new foundation document



Hi,

        On consultation with the other sponsors, I have decided to
 add a sunset clause to the proposed "Transition Guide", so that the
 specific references to Sarge are ex-purged after it is released.

	This new version has been proof read by David Harris, and is
 in much better  shape than my initial offering. On their request, I
 have removed the names for Raul MIller and Joey Hess, though I thank
 them for helping me form my view, in the now unattributed emails.

	To recap, in order to handle the changes introduced in the GR
 2004_003:
----------------------------------------------------------------------
 	I propose we adopt a foundation document that tries to provide
 guidance and explanation for the transitions required whenever a
 change occurs in a foundation document like the social contract, and
 also provides specific remedies to the current dilemma that we find
 ourself in. This GR proposal is related to the GR currently in
 discussion for deferring of the changes made in GR 2004_003, and
 would be on the same ballot, and is an alternative to the GR
 currently in discussion.

	I hereby propose that we amend the constitution to add to the
 list of foundation documents the document attached in this proposal,
 titled "Transition Guide". The context diff follows.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
     <OL style="list-style: decimal;">
       <LI>A Foundation Document is a document or statement regarded as
        critical to the Project's mission and purposes.</LI>
       <LI>The Foundation Documents are the works entitled <q>Debian
-       Social Contract</q> and <q>Debian Free Software Guidelines</q>.</LI>
+       Social Contract</q>, <q>Transition Guide</q> and 
+      <q>Debian Free Software Guidelines</q>.</LI>
       <LI>A Foundation Document requires a 3:1 majority for its
        supersession.  New Foundation Documents are issued and
        existing ones withdrawn by amending the list of Foundation
        Documents in this constitution.</LI>
     </OL>
----------------------------------------------------------------------

It is further resolved that the final paragraph of the "Transition
Guide" with specific references to the forthcoming release (code named
"Sarge") shall be removed from the "Transition Guide" upon the next
full release of Debian after Debian 3.1 (code named "Sarge"), without
further cause for deliberation.

It is resolved that the full text of the proposed foundation document
be the following:


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			    Transition Guide

  A working guide to achieve the transition for changes in Foundation
 documents with specific remedies for the change in the social contract
made by GR 2004_003 containing explanations and Rationale, and defining
		   guidelines for future transitions

In General Resolution 2004_003, the wording of the Social Contract was
modified. The Social Contract represents the core commitments of the
Project. The Social Contract leaves its marks in many ways, it's deeply
intertwined with the all parts of the Project. Any change to the Social
Contract has major ramifications, and may require a period of
potentially deep changes to the roots of the Project before it can come
into compliance with the changed Contract.

Meeting our commitments as described in the Social Contact is an ongoing
process. Since we have recently changed these commitments, we need an
interval of time before we can approach compliance. Unless we shut down
the Project completely - abandoning users and our developers - the
regular activities of the Project must continue while we work towards
compliance.

There is precedent for a gap between ratifying a change to the
foundation documents of the Project and implementing dictates of that
document; when the Project first accepted the Social Contract and the
Debian Free Software Guidelines, there was an interval before we came
into compliance with those then-new documents. Indeed, there was the
release of a minor version just days after the Debian Free Software
Guidelines were accepted, and this release by no means complied with the
new commitments.

We also continued to support older non-complying releases, and did not
make them unavailable to our users.

The binding principle here is that we have to balance the needs of our
users and the need to make Debian strictly free. As seen on the mailing lists:


    In my opinion, the needs of the free software community take
    precedence in the context of adopting new packages, in the setting
    of release goals, in our choices about infrastructure and
    philosophy, and of course in the context of any development work we
    do.

    In my opinion, the needs of our users take precedence in the context
    of security fixes, in the context of support for packages and
    systems we've released, and in the context of the quality of our
    work.


With this document, we, the Debian Project, do so affirm this. We affirm
that while we are working towards complying with a change in the goals
or identity of the Project, or towards compliance with any change to a
foundation document, the needs of our users will be catered to. This may
mean that for a limited time, Debian will not be compliant with the new
Social Contract.

We affirm that whenever a change to the Social Contract, or the
Constitution, takes place, the activities required to provide ongoing
and proactive support for the Debian user community shall
continue. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, providing
security updates for previously-released versions of Debian, providing
point-release updates to previously-released versions of Debian,
preparing for the next (compliant) release of Debian, actually
releasing the current non-compliant version of Debian if such a
release is imminent (as well as any further updates to that version of
Debian), as well as providing all the Project's infrastructure such as
bug-tracking and mailing lists.

In the specific case of General Resolution 2004_003, since that release
currently in preparation, code named "Sarge", is very close to release,
and the previously released version is quite out of date, our commitment
to our users dictates that the "Sarge" release should go on as planned -
even while we are in the process of reaching compliance with the new
Social Contract. This exemption for "Sarge" applies to security releases
and point releases as well.

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Rationale

My intent was not just to find a way for us to allow to release Sarge,
it was to create a guideline to help ease us through major changes in
something like the Social contract, or the constitution. The fact that
a generic transition guide may help us also release Sarge soon is a
nice side effect. 

It has been suggested that transitioning ought to be handled in the
original proposal itself, and yes, that is a good idea. But foresight
is weak, compared to 8/20 hind sight, and there may be unforeseen
consequences of a proposed change that were not evident while drafting
the proposal. 

Nothing is perfect. I would much rather we also had a process defined
to pick up the pieces if the before-the-fact transition plan blew up
in our face; this is way better than relying on perfect foresight in
transition plans. 

The other issue addressed in the proposal is one of choosing between
two different requirements of the social contract; and how to balance
these different requirements when some of these requirements are
changed. 
======================================================================

	I would appreciate it if the people who seconded the original
 proposal also second the modifications made in adding the sunset
 clause, and the typographical changes wrought.

	manoj
-- 
* SynrG notes that the number of configuration questions to answer in
  sendmail is NON-TRIVIAL Seen on #Debian
Manoj Srivastava   <srivasta@debian.org>  <http://www.debian.org/%7Esrivasta/>
1024R/C7261095 print CB D9 F4 12 68 07 E4 05  CC 2D 27 12 1D F5 E8 6E
1024D/BF24424C print 4966 F272 D093 B493 410B  924B 21BA DABB BF24 424C

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