Re: Amendment to the Constitution: Add a new foundation document
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Manoj Srivastava <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
> Here is the current version
This one looks good; I'll second it.
> 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
> 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.
> 1. A Foundation Document is a document or statement regarded as
> critical to the Project's mission and purposes.
> 2. The Foundation Documents are the works entitled `Debian
> - Social Contract' and `Debian Free Software Guidelines'.
> + Social Contract', `Transition Guide' and
> + `Debian Free Software Guidelines'.
> 3. 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 existing ones withdrawn by amending the list of Foundation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.
> The attached Transition guide is:
> Transition Guide
> A working guide to achieve the transition for changes in Foundation documents
> containing explanations and Rationale, and defining
> guidelines for future transitions
> The Social Contract represents the core commitments of the Project.
> The Social Contract leaves its marks in many ways; it is deeply
> intertwined with all parts of the Project. Potentially, 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. Whenever we change these commitments, we may 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, a minor version
> was released just days after the Debian Free Software Guidelines were
> accepted, and this release by no means complied with the new
> 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 one developer has
> 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.
> We, the Debian Project, do so affirm this judgmen. 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.
> Whenever a change to our foundation documents 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), and 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.
> 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
> Since this modifies the Constitution, this requires a 3:1 majority to
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