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Re: Question for DPL Candidates: Debian $$$

On Wed, Mar 18, 2009 at 09:24:29PM +0000, Joseph Nahmias wrote:
> Hello Steve, Luk, and Zak!

Argh, "Zack", with 'c' and 'k' :-) SCNR

> Having just particpated in the latest SPI board meeting, I've
> learned that The Debian Project currently has over 125k USD in
> reserve.  This amount (even setting aside the recent 30k debconf9
> sponsorship by HP) seems to be at a point where we as a project
> should start articulating and coming to some agreement on what an
> appropriate level of reserves is, and how (on what) to spend the
> excess.

Fair enough.

>     1 - What is an appropriate reserve level for the project?

I'm a bit uncomfortable in giving raw numbers, but let's see ... We
should keep enough money just to replace on the fly the hardware of
our main server infrastructure. In the long run we survive with
donations (of either the hardware directly or of the money to buy it),
but emergencies cannot wait.

I don't have a precise figure in mind, but I know how I would obtain
one. First by asking DSA to determine what are the key machines which
should be backed by an "immediate monetary coverage" if needed. Then
by collecting quotes for the corresponding hardware.

All in all if I had, gun pointed at my head, to make a guess, I'd say
that keeping emergency reserves at about 50k$ would be appropriate.

>     2 - How should funds above that level be allocated?

I've discussed some usages in my platform. I believe the most useful
one is enabling contributors to travel for getting
together. Unfortunately, even 100k$ is not that much if you start
paying entire trips, lodgement, and so on (cfr. DebConf budget). So
what I propose is to use Debian money to pay the "diff" that would
enable gettogethers that would otherwise be impossible. A technical
way to implement some quality assurance on the process, proposed in my
platform, is to rely on some kind of sponsorship where other
developers are required to back the funding request of specific
developers or contributors.

Other potential usages of Debian moneys are bounties, to which I'm not
opposed in principle. However, they should obey to very specific
rules. The first one is that no one already contributing to Debian
should be authorized to pick them up (no dunc-tank 2). The second one
is that they should be used only for tasks that we have a history of
not being able to fulfill by ourselves, and that are considered
blocking for some needed Project improvements. No matter how people
can get emotional about this, this would be way better that let money
rot in our bank accounts; money that people who love us have given us
to improve what we do.

In both funding scenarios, the final response on whether to fund or
not people will remain the DPL's, as prescribed by the constitution.


> PS - I subscribe to -vote, no need to cc me.

Fair enough, but note that your M-F-T header ask for an explicit Cc,
you might want to fix that.

Stefano Zacchiroli -o- PhD in Computer Science \ PostDoc @ Univ. Paris 7
zack@{upsilon.cc,pps.jussieu.fr,debian.org} -<>- http://upsilon.cc/zack/
Dietro un grande uomo c'è ..|  .  |. Et ne m'en veux pas si je te tutoie
sempre uno zaino ...........| ..: |.... Je dis tu à tous ceux que j'aime

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