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Re: Amendment to the Constitution: Add a new foundation document

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Manoj Srivastava <srivasta@debian.org> writes:

> Hi,
>         On consultation with the other sponsors, I have decided to
>  add a sunset clause to the proposed "Transition Guide", so that the
>  specific references to Sarge are ex-purged after it is released.
> 	This new version has been proof read by David Harris, and is
>  in much better  shape than my initial offering. On their request, I
>  have removed the names for Raul MIller and Joey Hess, though I thank
>  them for helping me form my view, in the now unattributed emails.
> 	To recap, in order to handle the changes introduced in the GR
>  2004_003:
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>  	I propose we adopt a foundation document that tries to provide
>  guidance and explanation for the transitions required whenever a
>  change occurs in a foundation document like the social contract, and
>  also provides specific remedies to the current dilemma that we find
>  ourself in. This GR proposal is related to the GR currently in
>  discussion for deferring of the changes made in GR 2004_003, and
>  would be on the same ballot, and is an alternative to the GR
>  currently in discussion.
> 	I hereby propose that we amend the constitution to add to the
>  list of foundation documents the document attached in this proposal,
>  titled "Transition Guide". The context diff follows.
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>      <OL style="list-style: decimal;">
>        <LI>A Foundation Document is a document or statement regarded as
>         critical to the Project's mission and purposes.</LI>
>        <LI>The Foundation Documents are the works entitled <q>Debian
> -       Social Contract</q> and <q>Debian Free Software Guidelines</q>.</LI>
> +       Social Contract</q>, <q>Transition Guide</q> and 
> +      <q>Debian Free Software Guidelines</q>.</LI>
>        <LI>A Foundation Document requires a 3:1 majority for its
>         supersession.  New Foundation Documents are issued and
>         existing ones withdrawn by amending the list of Foundation
>         Documents in this constitution.</LI>
>      </OL>
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> It is further resolved that the final paragraph of the "Transition
> Guide" with specific references to the forthcoming release (code named
> "Sarge") shall be removed from the "Transition Guide" upon the next
> full release of Debian after Debian 3.1 (code named "Sarge"), without
> further cause for deliberation.
> It is resolved that the full text of the proposed foundation document
> be the following:
> 			    Transition Guide
>   A working guide to achieve the transition for changes in Foundation
>  documents with specific remedies for the change in the social contract
> made by GR 2004_003 containing explanations and Rationale, and defining
> 		   guidelines for future transitions
> In General Resolution 2004_003, the wording of the Social Contract was
> modified. The Social Contract represents the core commitments of the
> Project. The Social Contract leaves its marks in many ways, it's deeply
> intertwined with the all parts of the Project. Any change to the Social
> Contract has major ramifications, and may require a period of
> potentially deep changes to the roots of the Project before it can come
> into compliance with the changed Contract.
> Meeting our commitments as described in the Social Contact is an ongoing
> process. Since we have recently changed these commitments, we need an
> interval of time before we can approach compliance. Unless we shut down
> the Project completely - abandoning users and our developers - the
> regular activities of the Project must continue while we work towards
> compliance.
> There is precedent for a gap between ratifying a change to the
> foundation documents of the Project and implementing dictates of that
> document; when the Project first accepted the Social Contract and the
> Debian Free Software Guidelines, there was an interval before we came
> into compliance with those then-new documents. Indeed, there was the
> release of a minor version just days after the Debian Free Software
> Guidelines were accepted, and this release by no means complied with the
> new commitments.
> We also continued to support older non-complying releases, and did not
> make them unavailable to our users.
> The binding principle here is that we have to balance the needs of our
> users and the need to make Debian strictly free. As seen on the mailing lists:
>     In my opinion, the needs of the free software community take
>     precedence in the context of adopting new packages, in the setting
>     of release goals, in our choices about infrastructure and
>     philosophy, and of course in the context of any development work we
>     do.
>     In my opinion, the needs of our users take precedence in the context
>     of security fixes, in the context of support for packages and
>     systems we've released, and in the context of the quality of our
>     work.
> With this document, we, the Debian Project, do so affirm this. We affirm
> that while we are working towards complying with a change in the goals
> or identity of the Project, or towards compliance with any change to a
> foundation document, the needs of our users will be catered to. This may
> mean that for a limited time, Debian will not be compliant with the new
> Social Contract.
> We affirm that whenever a change to the Social Contract, or the
> Constitution, takes place, the activities required to provide ongoing
> and proactive support for the Debian user community shall
> continue. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, providing
> security updates for previously-released versions of Debian, providing
> point-release updates to previously-released versions of Debian,
> preparing for the next (compliant) release of Debian, actually
> releasing the current non-compliant version of Debian if such a
> release is imminent (as well as any further updates to that version of
> Debian), as well as providing all the Project's infrastructure such as
> bug-tracking and mailing lists.
> In the specific case of General Resolution 2004_003, since that release
> currently in preparation, code named "Sarge", is very close to release,
> and the previously released version is quite out of date, our commitment
> to our users dictates that the "Sarge" release should go on as planned -
> even while we are in the process of reaching compliance with the new
> Social Contract. This exemption for "Sarge" applies to security releases
> and point releases as well.
> Rationale
> My intent was not just to find a way for us to allow to release Sarge,
> it was to create a guideline to help ease us through major changes in
> something like the Social contract, or the constitution. The fact that
> a generic transition guide may help us also release Sarge soon is a
> nice side effect. 
> It has been suggested that transitioning ought to be handled in the
> original proposal itself, and yes, that is a good idea. But foresight
> is weak, compared to 8/20 hind sight, and there may be unforeseen
> consequences of a proposed change that were not evident while drafting
> the proposal. 
> Nothing is perfect. I would much rather we also had a process defined
> to pick up the pieces if the before-the-fact transition plan blew up
> in our face; this is way better than relying on perfect foresight in
> transition plans. 
> The other issue addressed in the proposal is one of choosing between
> two different requirements of the social contract; and how to balance
> these different requirements when some of these requirements are
> changed. 
> ======================================================================
> 	I would appreciate it if the people who seconded the original
>  proposal also second the modifications made in adding the sunset
>  clause, and the typographical changes wrought.

I second it.

- -- 
Rémi Vanicat
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