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Request for comments: use of project funds for hardware



The PowerPC port is about to be without an unstable build daemon again. 
While we could scrounge up an old machine with fairly little trouble, I've
been trying to arrange a new machine for the project for a couple of
reasons:

 - debian-installer
	The new-world power macs are miserably supported by boot-floppies
	right now; a lot of effort from Ethan Benson has gotten it to
	a useable state, but for the new installer I would strongly prefer
	to have access to a machine to test on.

 - X
	The current project PowerPCs represent the period when Apple was
	using old, proprietary video chipsets; I would prefer to have
	some new machine available to test the current experimental X
	packages on.

 - libc6
	PowerPC hasn't transitioned to 2.1.9x yet.  I'm sure it will cause
	some unexpected problems; there is no developer-accessible machine
	on which we could hunt them down.  The only PowerPC currently
	available for developer use is the machine donated to me by
	LinuxPPC, Inc., and hosted by Brainfood.  It provides the stable
	and proposed-updates build daemon, and is used by the security team.
	Thus it isn't appropriate for unstable work, and it doesn't have
	enough disk for a chroot.

And also just for general developer access; it would be very convenient if
more machines were available for curious developers to test on.

While there are several other solutions (like putting more disk space into
the stable buildd, which would be a far from ideal stopgap), there are also
quite a few advantages in having a separate machine.  I've been reluctant to
raise the idea of using project funds for this, as I'm thinking of a machine
that would be hosted with me, and thus I would get the lion's share of
benefit from it; I've been approaching possible sponsors to have one
donated, but no one has been able to do so.

However, with the current build daemon about to become inaccessible, I
want to at least get a feeling for public opinion on a topic we've been
avoiding: the use of the project's funds.  We receive a fair amount in
donations, as well as at least two major monetary prizes; is development
hardware a reasonable use of this money?  If not, what is?

In other words, I would like to ask for the use of Debian funds to purchase
a PowerPC for the project, or at least to partly purchase it.

Another thing to consider is that there is no unstable machine of any
architecture available for developer use.  This has bitten us repeatedly -
all small problems, but very annoying.  I'd like to see this change. 
Perhaps, if we have the funds and the project thinks it a worthwhile idea,
we can even pursue the build cluster proposals that come up regularly.

Right now, we don't even know quite how much money the project has;
obviously, it isn't doing us very much good.  It's good to have against a
rainy day (emergency drive replacements and the like), but I think that
there is more we could do with it than we are doing.

Dan

/--------------------------------\  /--------------------------------\
|       Daniel Jacobowitz        |__|        SCS Class of 2002       |
|   Debian GNU/Linux Developer    __    Carnegie Mellon University   |
|         dan@debian.org         |  |       dmj+@andrew.cmu.edu      |
\--------------------------------/  \--------------------------------/

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