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Re: Skolelinux and the "Debian Labs" idea

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I am not a Debian developer so probably have no right to interject
opinion here, but that have never stopped me in the past. ;)

Martin Michlmayr - Debian Project Leader wrote:
| They are currently in the process of setting up a non-profit
| foundation and have approached me and some SPI members to discuss the
| name of this foundation.  Given their close relationship to Debian,
| they wanted permission to call the foundation "Debian Foundation
| Norway".  This would increase the visibility of the Debian name, and
| make it more visible that Skolelinux is based on Debian.

I think great caution should be exercised here.  One thing Debian
appears to take very seriously is it's social contract and the
evaluation of the licenses of the packages it puts in main.  I think
that Debian should not blindly jump on an "increased" marketing
opportunity solely because it is available.  I think this mail is proof
that it is going through a review/thought process which is great. :)

| I like what Skolelinux does and, knowing the people involved in the
| project, I'd have no problem per se of them using the Debian name.

The problem becomes, once you open the gate for them, have you opened
pandora's box?  What happens when someone who you dont like what they do
or the people involved with the project and they want to use the Debian

| However, I hold the belief that "Debian" should not pay developers.

This is a smart thing.

| It's quite unfortunate that they cannot use the Debian name because of
| this reason since the Skolelinux project does an excellent job and
| could generate good publicity for Debian when they emphasize their
| relationship to Debian through their name.  There are many good Debian

The other problem becomes, what happens when the relationship sours?
Money has a funny way of affecting peoples behavior.  When they have a
significant amount of people basing their livelihood on some funding
source and that source asks them to do things not in alignment with
Debian.  What happens then?

| based projects out there and many users are not aware that what they
| use is actually based on Debian (KNOPPIX is a good example for this).
| So I tried very hard to come up with a compromise and in the end had
| an idea which I think offers a good balance.  What I suggest is that
| certain organizations should be allowed to use the name "Debian Labs"
| in their name.  Hence, Skolelinux could create its foundation with the
| name "Skolelinux Debian Labs" [4].  This would clearly show that a)
| they are doing Debian related work and b) they are not Debian itself.

I think this a possible solution, with many things that need definition.

| We could create a "Debian Labs" brand and publicize what it means for
| an organization to carry that name.  Since we own the Debian
| trademark, we can control who is allowed to use the "Debian Labs"
| brand.  We have to develop a set of guidelines for this.  So in some
| sense Debian has some control over what those organizations do.  On
| the other hand, they are largely autonomous of Debian and can do with
| their money whatever they want -- that way, "Debian" wouldn't need to
| decide who to hire, etc, and could avoid the problems described in the
| mail mentioned above.

This is where you have hit the nail on the head so to speak.  You
absolutely need these guidelines.  I think there needs to be clear
guidelines as to what such an organization has to do in order to be
acceptable to use the "Debian Labs" name.  Also, there has to be some
guidelines as to acceptable behavior after they have received that
right.  There needs to be procedures that all revocation of the name as

This will be no easy task mind you.  From what I have seen on the
debian-legal list and debian-policy list it is hard to get a large
number of Debian developers to agree on such matters, but I think it is
the only way you can approach it without shooting yourself in the foot.

| I would like to ask for comments on this idea.  Are people comfortable
| with organizations calling themselves "<foo> Debian Labs" assuming
| that they are doing Debian related work and generally conform to a set
| of guidelines (which are yet to be developed).  Also, is there anyone
| interested in helping develop these guidelines?

I would be interested in being involved in such guidelines.

Derek Neighbors
GNU Enterprise
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