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Re: Questions for all candidates: the DPL as a creator of public opinion

On Sun, Mar 05, 2006 at 10:45:47PM +0200, Fabian Fagerholm wrote:
> The DPL is described as a representative of Debian to the general
> public, and as a vision-definer inside the Debian Project. 

I wouldn't say "vision-definer" -- the DPL lead's discussion, and may
summarise it afterwards, but actually reaching a conclusion and defining
a vision (or visions) is the job of the project at large.

> Currently, the FOSS world is facing major challenges that concern most
> aspects of this community: core questions of value are in discussion
> [1], the viability and sustainability of volunteer work is questioned
> [2], and various attempts at making commercial profit and business
> models are affecting the community [3] -- for better or for worse.

All of these issues have been questioned as long as I've been involved in
open source (indeed, before the term "open source" was coined). I hope
that's something that will continue long afterwards too -- if you stop
questioning the fundamentals, you lose the opportunity to find major
new improvements in your understanding.

> Against this background, what is your opinion on the following:
>      1. Is Debian affected by what happens in the FOSS world in general?
>         How? Please give examples if you can.

I can't imagine a way in which it's not. Even the use of free software
on proprietary operating systems can affect Debian -- such as the dpkg
and apt ports to Mac OS X used by the Fink Project.

>      2. Has the definition (written or implied) of freedom in Debian
>         changed over the years? How?

We never used to have a definition at all...

>      3. Is the understanding of freedom in Debian up to date with regard
>         to the current state of the world? How does this show?

Debian has its own standard of freedom; the rest of the world includes
many different ones, both for software and for other things like the
press, or doing business, or movement of people, or association. I
don't think there's anything much to be said overall about this -- just
whether the standards being used are good for what they're  being used
for. I think Debian's are good for building an operating system from
many disparate components.

>      4. Does Debian have a good relationship with well-known
>         organisations such as FSF, Creative Commons or <insert your own
>         example(s) here>? Why/why not?

It depends what standard you set for "good" -- if you mean working
together on common projects, then generally yes; if you mean marching
together to the beat of the same drum, generally not. I think most of
our disagreements are honest and principled on both sides though, and
that's what counts.

>      5. As DPL, what would you rather work on in your vision-defining
>         capacity: defining a special Debian-freedom, or encouraging
>         Debian to embrace other definitions? Why and how?

Like I said originally, I don't think the DPL should be "defining a
vision".  Personally, I think we should be doing both -- ensuring we
have the freedoms we need to do a good job for our main distribution,
and embracing other perspectives in areas where that's appropriate,
notably non-free.

> Finally, please tell us as much as you want about what has led you
> towards Debian and free software instead of non-free alternatives. Why
> have you taken this path in life? Why is it important to you personally?

I think free is the best way of doing software, and Debian's the easiest
way of being involved in the distro side of free software, and one of
the best at it.


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