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Re: Proposal: Recall the Project Leader

On Sat, Sep 23, 2006 at 02:17:08PM -0700, Russ Allbery wrote:
> Clint Adams <schizo@debian.org> writes:

> > Now, if you become the release manager, and your employer makes your
> > compensation contingent on Debian not releasing before February of 2010,
> > no one can NMU the release.  Theoretically, we could replace you, but we
> > cannot fix the problem directly.

> > Would you not agree that this affects the risk assessment?

> If I became the release manager and some other distribution offered me
> $50,000 if Debian doesn't release before February of 2010, the situation
> is the same.  What you're talking about here, in my opinion, is a simple
> question of ethics.  The conflict could come from any number of sources,
> including ones that aren't even monetary, and the risk is present whether
> I'm being paid to work on Debian or not since it doesn't have to come from
> my employer.

> The solution to this sort of situation is, again, a matter of ethics.  As
> a Debian Developer, I agreed to be part of this project.  To me, that
> carries an ethical obligation to make decisions for the general good of
> the project.  Should I be put into a situation where I don't feel like I
> can do that without conflicts of interest, I would recuse myself.  Should
> someone offer me a bargain like the above, I would refuse it.  Should the
> Debian project as a whole not trust me to act ethically, it shouldn't
> trust me with that sort of position.

Indeed, the only solid defense against such a conflict of interest is the
ethics of the person holding the privileged position.  If the premise is
that the release managers are willing to sell their souls and the release
schedule for personal enrichment, I don't see how any amount of oversight
can effectively prevent that.  I'm pretty sure that a company looking to
sabotage the release process isn't going to feel out the idea on
debian-private first.

The other option is to eliminate privileged roles.  In this case, I think
that amounts to eliminating stable releases; I don't think Debian is capable
of pulling off a stable release without a focal point in the form of a
release team, and while I think sharing the burdens with a larger release
team has worked well, I don't think you want to make all decisions by

Now, dunc-tank hasn't asked me to compromise myself as an RM; releasing etch
this year is already a stated goal of mine, dunc-tank merely seeks to
facilitate this goal, and it's understood that this relationship isn't going
to bring with it any obligation to cut corners, make particular package
decisions that favor the donors, or even to release on schedule if the RMs
determine that this is not the correct technical decision at the time.

So as far as conflicts of interest are concerned, I don't see one here.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
vorlon@debian.org                                   http://www.debian.org/

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