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Re: Buying hardware with Debian money

On Sun, Oct 20, 2013, Lucas Nussbaum <leader@debian.org> wrote:

> I received a few requests for hardware purchases, that I think are worth
> discussing with the project as a whole in order to progress towards having
> clear guidelines for what is acceptable and what isn't in terms of spending
> Debian money.
> Please provide feedback on the proposed decisions -- they are not final
> yet.

Hello, and apologies for being so late in responding. I only noted this
discussion after a DPL report, and it's taken me some time to subscribe and

I'd like to generally note that I'm not in favour of buying hardware for
individual developers. Hardware for Debian infrastructure is obviously
distinct from this, and I'd suggest that even hardware purchased for a
particular role and maintained within the Debian infrastructure would be

Going down the list:

> A. Memory expansion cards for m68k buildds (expected cost: 500 EUR)

Infrastructure investment - reasonable.

> B. Powerful machine for d-i development (expected cost: 1.5k-2k EUR?)

Unreasonable. The developer should be using his own hardware. If the Project
is to supply hardware, it should live within the Project's infrastructure.
The developer is specifically noting that the machine will be running virtual
guests for the actual development work, and as such I can't imagine why this
cannot live inside the Debian infrastructure, thus making it more available
to the community as a resource when this develop doesn't need it for active

The developer argues against a remote machine, saying, "I do realize having
some nice hardware racked up in some datacenter would be nice for testing
purposes, but until automated regression testing is implemented, one needs to
rely on clicking and typing into a VM, so as to debug/develop some framework
to perform automated testing." This can readily be accomplished with VNC. The
developer also notes that "prepairing an upload" requires a local machine,
which, again, suggests that a machine managed within the Debian
infrastructure doesn't present the requisite level of trust... This request
simply bothers me. It is, I believe, too much to ask of the Project.

> C. Laptop for developer (expected cost: 1k-1.5k EUR?)

Again, individual developers should supply their own hardware.

My perspective: I donate a small sum to SPI, earmarked expressly for Debian,
monthly. I imagine there are many other people who do the same thing. Seeing
these requests for gifts from the Project makes me mentally add up how many
months of my contributions are going to satisfy a developer's desire for
something that he'd really ought to be providing for himself.

I believe in the election process and I have no illusion that I'm in a
position to try to micro-manage how the Project uses its available resources,
but it really won't take seeing this sort of thing more than once or twice
before I redirect this particular portion of my charitable giving elsewhere.
I would personally be far too embarassed to ask a non-profit group to which I
volunteered development time to give me equipment for the purpose, rather
than simply asking for the use of Project-managed resources if my own
resources seemed somehow insufficient.

Mason Loring Bliss  ((   If I have not seen as far as others, it is because
 mason@blisses.org   ))   giants were standing on my shoulders. - Hal Abelson

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