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AM report on Colin Walters

AM report on Colin Walters


I recommend that Colin becomes a Debian developer.

Applicant info:

Name:	         Colin Walters
Current email:   walters@verbum.org
Preferred email: walters@debian.org

Colin wrote me:

 > I'm from Columbus, Ohio.  I currently work as a student programmer at
 > the Ohio State University's Department of Computer and Information
 > Science.
 > I originally got interested in Debian after feeling a great deal of
 > frustration with my Red Hat system.  I tried it, and there was no
 > turning back :)
 > I'd like to join Debian as a developer so I can help out more easily.


Colin provided me with the following gpg key:

pub  1024D/9B936C95 2001-06-12 Colin Walters <walters@verbum.org>
sig!       9B936C95 2001-08-22  Colin Walters <walters@verbum.org>
uid                            Colin Walters <walters@cis.ohio-state.edu>
sig!       9B936C95 2001-06-12  Colin Walters <walters@verbum.org>
sig!       700A0551 2001-06-14  Evan Prodromou (GLUG) <evan@glug.org>
sig?       34984B9C 2001-06-15  
sig!       E0A38377 2001-06-22  Daniel Jacobowitz <dmj+@andrew.cmu.edu>
sub  1024g/B31AC9BB 2001-06-12
sig!       9B936C95 2001-06-12  Colin Walters <walters@verbum.org>

It is signed by Daniel Jacobowitz <dan@debian.org>.

Identification check passed.

Policy and procedures:
Colin agrees to follow the DSC, the DFSG and the DMUP. The answers he
gave me to the questions I asked him about these documents show that he
really knows what they are about and what their implications are. His
knowledge about Debian procedures is also accurate.

Policy and procedures check passed.

Tasks and Skills:
Colin already has done some packaging. He wrote me:

 > The main work that I want to do is on the "calc" package, which was
 > orphaned.  I took the package, fixed all remaining bugs in it, and I
 > also patched it so it will work on both emacs20 and emacs21.  See:   
 > http://verbum.org/~walters/debian/sid
 > Another package I plan to upload is gpmudmon-applet, available at the
 > same location.

I took a look at these packages. They are well packaged and are (almost)
lintian clean.  I also asked Adriak Bunk <bunk@debian.org>, who has
sponsored him, about Colin's packaging skills. He wrote me that he is
generally satisfied with the uqality of Colin's packages?

Colin has also contributed to the boot-floppies (basedebs.tgz support).
Ethan Benson <erbenson@alaska.net>, who committed Colin's changes, is
very positive about Colin's patches.

Finally, Colin is planning to help with the PowerPC port.

Tasks and skills check passed.

Kind regards,
| Bas Zoetekouw                  | Si l'on sait exactement ce   |
|--------------------------------| que l'on va faire, a quoi    |
| zoetekw@phys.uu.nl             | bon le faire?                |
|    bas@A-Es2.uu.nl             |               Pablo Picasso  |

Version: GnuPG v1.0.6 (GNU/Linux)
Comment: For info see http://www.gnupg.org


Bas Zoetekouw <bas@A-Eskwadraat.nl> writes:

> Yeah, that's ok.

Ok, cool.

> Are you already subscribed to debian-devel or other debian
> mailinglists?

I'm subscribed to almost every Debian list :)

> Furthermore, we'll have to discuss some Debian philosophy. Have you read
> the Debian Social Contract, the Debian Free Software Guidelines
> (http://www.debian.org/social_contract)?  Do you agree to follow those
> in your Debian-related work? 

I've read them, and I agree with them wholeheartedly.

> If you are accepted as a Debian developer, you will get accounts on
> the Debian machines. Do you agree to follow the Debian Machine Usage
> Policy (http://www.debian.org/devel/dmup)?

I agree.

> To check that you have read the Social Contract and the DFSG and
> that you understand them, I'll ask you a few questions about these
> documents.
> Firstly, can you explain the key points of the Social Contract and
> DFSG in your own words?

The Debian Free Software Guidelines basically describe what the
criteria for being a part of Debian is; free software.  Only packages
which satisfy these guidelines are considered for inclusion into
Debian proper ("main").  Other packages might be included in "contrib"
or "non-free", but these are not parts of Debian itself.

The Social Contract describes the principles behind the Debian
_organization_ itself; how it accomplishes its goals of producing a
free operating system.

> Secondly, a few questions, based on them:
> (1) Do you know (and can you explain) the difference between free speech
>     and free beer?  Is Debian mainly about free speech or free beer?

The "free speech" vs "free beer" distinction is the same as the one
versus "gratis" and "libre" in French.  The former means "at no
cost".  The latter means "freedom".  Debian is about free speech.

> (2) Donald Knuth, author of TeX, insists that no one has the right
> to modify the source code of TeX, and that any changes must be made
> using "change files" (a sort of patch file).  Furthermore, any
> modification of TeX which produces something which fails the "trip
> test" (a regression test suite) may not be called TeX.  So how come
> TeX (in the guise of tetex-*) is in main?

These restrictions are explicitly allowed by section 4 of the DFSG.
That being said though, it's an ugly license.

> (3) The e-mail client pine is in non-free.  Can you tell me the
> difference between main, contrib and non-free?  Do you know what's
> wrong with Pine's current license in regard to the DFSG?

Main is composed of software which satisfies the DFSG, and depends
only on other software in main.  Contrib is composed of DFSG software,
but it depends on non-free software (such as Sun's JDK).  non-free is
just that; non-free, proprietary software that is distributed by

Pine's license last I heard didn't allow modification *and*

> (4) What is Debian's (current) approach to non-free software?  Why?

A fairly permissive one.  As per section 5 of the Social Contract, the
Debian project supports the use of non-free software on Debian
systems, and even distributes non-free software itself.  Why is a good
question; I personally feel Debian shouldn't.  This decision was made
a long time ago, when there were really no replacements for
proprietary software like netscape (now we have Mozilla).

> (5) Debian was offered a Debian-specific license to package a
> certain piece of software (I forget which).  Would we put it in
> main?

No, it fails DFSG section 8.

> (6) At http://people.debian.org/~wolfie/mpg123_copyright you can
> find the license of mpg123.  Can you tell me why this program is
> non-free according to the DFSG?

It can't be sold for profit; this fails section 1 of the DFSG.

> Furthermore, I have some questions about certain Debian procedures.
> (1) Can explain in your own words what a NMU is? What is the correct
>     procedure when you want to do an NMU?

A non-maintainer upload.  The correct procedure is to file a bug
report with a patch.  If there is no response, then it is acceptable
to NMU.

> (2) Can you tell me three different ways to close a bug in the BTS? What
>     is the preferred way?

Two are via email:

echo nnnnn-close | mail -s 'close nnnnn' control@bugs.debian.org
mail -s nnnnn-done@bugs.debian.org < /dev/null

And one is by placing a (Closes: #nnnnn) in the changelog for a

> (3) What would you do if a bug was reported against your package and
> you are not able to fix it yourself?

Ask for help on -devel or -mentors.

> (4) You've just heard about this great program and you would like to
> package it. What would you do?

Check to be sure it's not already a part of Debian.  Then, check the
license file to be sure it satisfies the DFSG.  Finally, I would file
a wishlist bug against the "wnpp" package, with a title of "ITP".

> (5) Do you know what 'lintian' is?  Why is it useful?

lintian is the automated policy checker for Debian packages.  It's
useful because it can find a huge number of bugs in packages.

> (6) What does version 3.4-2.1 mean? What Debian control file would
> you put this in?

The version would be placed in the changelog.  I think that version
means it's version 3.4 of the upstream package, and the debian
revision is -2 (meaning it's the second maintainer upload).  The .1
means it's a source NMU, I believe?

> (7) You have a package in contrib, why would it have to go there?
> What could you do (in theory at least) to get it into main?

It depends on non-free software.  To get it into main, one would have
to remove the dependency on non-free software.

> (8) If you had a file in your package which usually gets changed by
> a user for local settings, how would you make sure your next version
> of the package doesn't overwrite it?

Flag it as a "conffile".

> (9) What would you do if you wanted to retire from the project and
> let other developers maintain your packages?

I'd follow section 3.7 of the Developer's reference.

Wow, those were good questions :)

From erbenson@alaska.net Tue Sep 04 13:07:23 2001
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Date: Tue, 4 Sep 2001 03:07:16 -0800
From: Ethan Benson <erbenson@alaska.net>
To: Bas Zoetekouw <bas@A-Eskwadraat.nl>
Subject: Re: Colin Walters
Message-ID: <20010904030715.Q14519@plato.local.lan>
References: <20010902165504.A11231@niels>
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In-Reply-To: <20010902165504.A11231@niels>; from bas@A-Eskwadraat.nl on Sun, Sep 02, 2001 at 04:55:04PM +0200
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On Sun, Sep 02, 2001 at 04:55:04PM +0200, Bas Zoetekouw wrote:
> Hi Ethan!
> I am Colin Walter's AM, and I am currently processing his Debian
> application.  He told me that you've committed some of his patches to the
> boot-floppies CVS.  Could you please comment on his skills in this area?

Colin is quite careful and methodical in his efforts to contribute
patches/code to an existing project, he takes great care to ensure his
additions merge well with the existing code base (even a hideous one
like b-f), and more importantly he endeavors to test all his changes
to both ensure they actually compile as well as function correctly and
as expected. =20

I would have to say that his efforts in testing and constructing
patches well exceed what most other developers currently contributing
to boot-floppies development, I have often been required to fix other
people's patches (which they committed to CVS themselves) either to fix
some egregious flaw, or to even make the code compile at all, Colin's
patches have never required such action.

Furthermore the patches he is referring to are to a piece of code
which I regard as a completely twisted and ugly mess, I seeked his
assistance in these modifications because I was simply unable to make
any sense of that code (or bare to look at it long enough to try).
He did an excellent job on that patch, especially given the extremely
low quality of the existing code.

Ethan Benson

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From bunk@fs.tum.de Sun Sep 09 15:49:56 2001
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From: Adrian Bunk <bunk@fs.tum.de>
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To: Bas Zoetekouw <bas@A-Eskwadraat.nl>
Subject: Re: Colin Walters
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On Sat, 8 Sep 2001, Bas Zoetekouw wrote:

> Hi Adrian!

Hi Bas!

> I am currently Colin Walters's application manager. Colin told me that
> you have recently sponsored him. Could you please comment on the quality
> of his packages?

The packages Colin made were generally OK. There were some small problems
and carelessnesses (packages were accidentially made as native packages)
he corrected quickly after I told him about them.



Get my GPG key: finger bunk@debian.org | gpg --import

Fingerprint: B29C E71E FE19 6755 5C8A  84D4 99FC EA98 4F12 B400

From walters@verbum.org Wed Sep 12 22:27:51 2001
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To: Bas Zoetekouw <bas@A-Eskwadraat.nl>
Subject: Re: Your Debian application
References: <20010823175426.A8853@niels>
X-Attribution: Colin
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User-Agent: Gnus/5.090004 (Oort Gnus v0.04) Emacs/21.0.104
From: Colin Walters <walters@verbum.org>
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2001 16:26:12 -0400
In-Reply-To: <20010912220120.A16145@richard.a-es2.oi> (Bas Zoetekouw's
 message of "Wed, 12 Sep 2001 22:01:20 +0200")
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Bas Zoetekouw <bas@A-Eskwadraat.nl> writes:

> You're descriping here what the SC and the DSFG are. Could you
> please also describe what are their main points?

Sure; sorry about misunderstanding your question.

In my view, the main points of the DFSG are that the software should
allow one to make modifications and distribute them, as well as
allowing one to sell the (possibly modified) software.  And those
freedoms must be given to all people, not just certain groups.

The Social Contract says that Debian is focused on free software, and
will be composed entirely of free software.  However, the Social
Contract also states that Debian will allow users to run non-free
software on their systems, and will even redistribute non-free
software itself (although it is not part of Debian).

----- End forwarded message -----

Kind regards,
| Bas Zoetekouw                  | Si l'on sait exactement ce   |
|--------------------------------| que l'on va faire, a quoi    |
| zoetekw@phys.uu.nl             | bon le faire?                |
|    bas@A-Es2.uu.nl             |               Pablo Picasso  |

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