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Javier's questions for the candidates

On Fri, Mar 07, 2003 at 09:19:06AM +0100, Javier Fern?ndez-Sanguino Pe?a wrote:
> 1.- Do you think that translators, people involved in i18n, and people
> involved in documentation-only work should be given maintainer status even
> though they are not going to maintain packages or infrastructure? How
> should the NM process be modified in order to provide for this?

This is a tricky question for me; my instinctive answer to the first
question is "yes", but the answer to the second requires nuance.

There is no reason an i18n/l10n specialist should have to meet the same
requirments as a maintainer of a C library package, for instance, but at
the same time it's not fair to the applicants who passed a difficult
"Tasks and Skills" phase to let i18n/l10n applicants in with a much
"easier" tasks and skills test.

Some people have proposed a tiered structure for developers.  Of course,
the sorts of people who propose such a system would probably put
themselves in the "highest" tier.

The tier concept makes me fairly nervous, and at the same time I'm not
sure that my answer to your first question doesn't necessitate something
that looks sort of like tiers.

This issue is largely in the hands of the New Maintainer Team; all of
these should be delegates of the DPL.  I am offer advice to the NM team,
and participate in discussions of this issue with them.  If i18n/l10n
specialists feel especially disenfranchised by the current system, then
I would hope they'd contact me as DPL and/or the NM team and express
their concerns.

> 2.- Do you believe Debian has to actively look for business partners in
> order to be "certified" as part of broader IT solutions? What kind of help
> will major companies get from Debian if you were DPL? (This is not a
> 'non-free' kind of question, BTW, it's a major caveat for companies to
> adopt Debian as a distribution of choice when the hardware vendors do not
> 'support' Debian as an operating system in their solutions)

Your first question is very, very broad.  I'm not sure how to answer it
except to say that I think every case would have to be judged on its own
merits.  I'm also not sure what you mean by "business partners"; Debian
is not a business so there is no one for an existing company to "partner
with" in the conventional sense.

I certainly think Debian should be willing to consider donations of
certification for our products (say, for instance, LSB certification of
Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 "woody"), or the funds for us to pay for such
certification ourselves.  I'm not sure if that qualifies as a
"partnership" in your book, though it certainly makes the organization
in question a donor to our Project, and we should recognize it as such
unless it wants to remain anonymous.

I'm not sure any major companies can expect any particular "help" from
Debian if I am elected DPL.  In fact, I question whether any company
could expect much in the way of special help no matter who is elected.

I think if our Project remains focused on producing the best possible
free operating system we can produce, we're probably doing quite enough
for any company, large or small.

> 3.- What do you believe the involvement of the Technical Comitee should be
> wrt fundamental differents in developers or major issues which hold back
> the development of the distribution as a whole? Do you view the Technical
> Comitee work as an active role (i.e. urging for things to be done or asking
> resources coming from the NM queue to cooperate in things lacking instead
> of making their pet projects) or as a passive role (i.e. endpoint of
> discussions between developers in the BTS when no agreement is reached)

My understanding of the Constitution is such that the Technical
Committee is a forum of last resort for technical disputes; that would
give them an explicitly passive role, to use the terms of your question.

I am content with the role of the Technical Committee as defined by the
Constitution; where there have been problems with the TC, I think they
have been instances where the TC did not do what the Constitution
required of it, or was unreasonably slow in doing so.

> 4.- What is the number one thing you will take an active role as DPL to fix
> in the Debian distribution? (not the project) What actions would you take,
> if elected, to fix it?

My number one priority is to publicly document our organizational structure,
where it isn't already, identify the positions in that structure,
identify the people holding those positions, ensure that they have been
formally delegated their powers under the Constitution, and attempt to
appoint volunteers to any empty positions.

I may create new positions as needed to tackle problems not currently
being addressed, if I can find volunteers to fill them.

It is unlikely that I will eliminate any positions.  I cannot think of
any redundant ones that exist at present.  I think one of our problems
is that we expect too few people to do too much, in fact.

> 5.- What is your standpoint in Debian vs. the others? In which areas do you
> think Debian should cooperate with other distributions? (save the LSB,
> think about GPLd software which is produced by commercial distributions,
> documentation...)

I find this question difficult to answer; in the context of free
software, cooperation is pretty much imposed upon the parties.  :-)

I generally view other Linux distributions as rivals, but some rivalries
are friendly ones.  :)

> 6.- What would you, as a DPL, do to help improve areas in which developers
> are not that much willing to contribute to and which are usually lacking?
> (for example: documentation)

That's an extremely good question; basically, it boils down to "how do
you motivate volunteers?"  That's a tough problem for any organization
that has volunteers.

My feelings on this subject are one reason I'm nervous about "tiers" of
developers.  i18n and l10n work is no less important in the grand scheme
of things than, say, preparing XFree86 4.3 Debian packages.  (In
particular contexts, one may be important than the other, of course.)

Every developer's contributions should be acknowledged.  Where users
make contributions, whether through sponsorship or some other means,
those should be acknowledged, too.  One thing we could all do is use
"reportbug --kudos" more.  :)

Other possibilities that come to mind:
  * more people writing for DWN
  * a feature in DWN, "Cool Thing of the Week in Debian", which could
    feature a package, an important bugfix, progress on a translation
    effort, etc.  -- this sort of thing would likely be ego-gratifying
    to the featured individuals
  * meritorious service awards, voted on the the developers, perhaps via
    a General Resolution, and presented by the DPL at, say DebConf

G. Branden Robinson                |    The first thing the communists do
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    when they take over a country is to
branden@debian.org                 |    outlaw cockfighting.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |    -- Oklahoma State Senator John Monks

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