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Re: Questions for the Debate



On Tue, Mar 04, 2003 at 12:21:54PM -0600, Adam DiCarlo wrote:
> Much of the difference in candidates seem to boil down to what level
> of command and control the DPL should have in technical matters.  My
> question is, what techniques would you (or your authorized delegates)
> use to assert this command and control, assuming you desire it?

The DPL should not be exercising much in the way of direct
command-and-control over technical issues; that's the province of the
Technical Committee under the Constitution.

Whether specific delegates have much say over technical issues pretty
much depends on the nature of the delegated position.  I can envision
the Release Manager having much greater say over technical issues than a
member of the New Maintainer team, for example.

> What steps, if any, do you believe should be taken to increase
> Debian's profile in the technical and non-technical press?

Establish good relationships with the press, especially those who take
the trouble to contact *you* as DPL.  Follow up with them promptly, and
try to instill in them some of the enthusiasm that I have for the Debian
Project.

Debian could pay for press releases if we needed to, and in fact I think
Bruce Perens did that (out of his own pocket) when announcing that
Debian was flying on the Space Shuttle several years ago.

> What changes, if any, do you believe should be made to the release
> process?  Related: how would you go about this?

I'm not terribly comfortable offering much in the way of specifics here
until I've had a conversation with the Release Manager and Stable
Release Manager (and possibly other people, like those prominent in work
on the various architecture and OS ports) after I'm elected.

> What changes, if any, do you believe should be made to the NM process?
> Related: how would you go about this?

The Debian Account Manager seems to be an incredibly sore spot with some
people, and with several respondents to my questionnaire.

I will need to ascertain if this remains a problem, and talk with the
DAM about various issues: whether the DAM team needs to be expanded,
what needs of his aren't being met by the Account Managers or Front Desk
(if any), what feels a reasonable time frame for feedback to an
applicant on account creation status is, whether he feels that the role
of DAM as it relates to the NM process is mostly a mechanical,
procedural one, or whether the DAM is expected to enagage in critical
review of the applicant, and so forth.

The DAM may be receiving a lot of grief for justified reasons, and/or
because he is an obvious and convenient target for gripes.  My job as
DPL is to separate the wheat from the chaff of these complaints, and
find out what I can do to make the DAM's job easier.

As with the Release Manager, the first thing to do with a delegate is
*talk* to them.  More importantly, in fact, *listen* to them.

Blowing into office with a long list of "firings", or with a laundry
list of unverified complaints with which one lambastes the current
delegates is not only impolite but dumb.  Demoralized or angry delegates
are unlikely to do a good job, and I think it's obvious how much gets
done in an unfilled position (which is of course the result if one fires
a delegate without a replacement lined up).

> Do you believe there is a conflict between the goals of service to our
> users and the goals of free-software quality?  Is Debian fundamentally
> "for ourselves" or "for our users"?  [Question cribbed from Brandon's
> questionaire.]

Ultimately, no.  There are going to be small-scale conflicts from time
to time, particularly of the form "convenience today versus freedom
tomorrow".  My only concern with those arguments is that sometimes,
tomorrow never comes.  :)

I think that, in the big picture, we best serve our users by helping to
guard their freedoms.  Debian can't become the universal operating
system when its users are hamstrung by licensing restrictions.

As I said in my platform, I think a carefully constructed non-binding
General Resolution might be a very good way to really figure out where
our developers stand on this issue.  As DPL, I will be most successful
if I represent the developers -- especially on philosophical issues --
instead of trying to dictate to them.

I'm not sure, but maybe asking whether Debian is fundamentally "for
ourselves" or "for users" isn't positing a false alternative.  (*That*
question you *didn't* crib from my questionnaire.)

I think Debian developers have a strong tendency to be the Debian's OS's
most critical and observant users.  (At least, this has been my personal
experience, with thousands of XFree86 bug reports under my belt.  :) )
Since our membership is open to the public, I'm not sure that
developers' goals are really in conflict with our users' goals.

Thanks for the questions!

-- 
G. Branden Robinson                |     No math genius, eh?  Then perhaps
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     you could explain to me where you
branden@debian.org                 |     got these...       PENROSE TILES!
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |     -- Stephen R. Notley

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