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Re: Debian UK

Stephen Frost wrote:
> * Simon Huggins (huggie@earth.li) wrote:
>>I realise that money can be very devisive but these are relatively small
>>amounts of money used well for the good of Debian.
> Even small amounts of money can change people's priorities.

It seems that you are under the impression that the activities such as the
selling of T-shirts are done for the purpose of raising money.  (Not
surprising given the spin that MJ Ray's been putting on it)

The way we price this stuff has always been based on selling it as cheaply
as possible, while making the numbers round for convenient change at Expos,
and aiming to do just better than break-even (as opposed to doing just
worse than break-even) -- we sell to DDs at cost price -- on a couple of
occasions we made significantly more than break-even, but that was more a
case of mistaken judgement, and being worried that we were likely to be
left with stock that would be perishable (i.e. old release CDs)

IIRC I put the money up for some or all of the initial stock at the first
Expo.  I'm pretty sure Steve's subsidised similarly on a few occasions.
None of us ever took out anything beyond the money we'd put in.

Over the years, the small profits have accumulated to the point that it
funds the stock for the next event -- the alternative would be expecting
the likes of us to subsidise the stock, in the hope of getting paid back --
I think that approach would actually increase commercial concerns, since at
present we're not that fussed if we make a loss, or get left with a lot of

It also means that funds are available when SPI needs things funded in

One could seek sponsorship for the stand, but that has it's own risks to
the independence of Debian.

You are right that small amounts of money can change some people's attitudes.

The current assets held by Steve are significantly less than the amount of
money I've spent out of my own pocket on running the UK Debian mirror
alone.  Does it really seem likely that I would get distracted by the
difference between making 200 and 300 pounds at the next Expo?  Steve's
also demonstrated a continued indifference to the potential corruption that
goes with the presence of money.

So, we do trade T-Shirts, but the primary motivation is to provide Debian
fans with stuff they might like, not to make money out of it.

The recently available "When It's Ready" and "Good Things" designs that
proved so popular at DebConf5 would almost certainly not have been produced
without taking this approach:


Perhaps you think we should set up a tshirt production business, but would
that business be expected to pay for a stand at Expos?  You have to sell a
lot of T-shirts to justify the 5000.00 GBP it would probably cost to turn
up, which might impose some rather more extreme commercial pressures.
Given that we don't do this as our day job, we wouldn't be up for that
risk, so that would simply ensure that there were a lot less people wearing
Debian T-shirts in the UK, and slightly less money was available to Debian.

You also mention the competition issue -- interestingly, it's generally
been the case that our stocks were supplied by the people that one would
think were our closest competition, with debianshop.com supplying us with
CDs & DVDs, and linuxemporium.co.uk providing Tshirts & CDs on
sale-or-return, for example -- we have avoided that pitfall as well, it seems.

Personally, I like being able to get Debian Tshirts on occasion, and the
availability of merchandise certainly makes the stand more popular at
Expos, which in turn makes the uninitiated curious about what the
attraction is.  Without that continued popularity, we'd get smaller stands
at the Expos, which would then reduce the effectiveness of the promotion we
manage to achieve.

I agree that there is a danger of corruption that goes along with the
presence of money, but I don't appreciate the implication that such
corruption is inevitable.  In fact the level of honesty demonstrated by
those involved over the years has been impeccable.  There have been many
occasions where people who could certainly have done with the money have
had physical access to hundreds or thousands of pounds in cash, without

Rather than attempting to imply that there must always be an ulterior
motive, I think we (Debian as a whole) should congratulate ourselves that
we've managed to establish an environment in which such ethical behaviour
can be expected.

Cheers, Phil.

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