[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Question to all candidates: financing of development

On Sat, Mar 13, 2010 at 08:18:00AM +0100, Raphael Hertzog wrote:
> Imagine a DD contacts you, she wants to setup an infrastructure to finance
> Debian related projects (i.e. paying people to enable them to work on the
> projects that they'd like to do for Debian) but she wants to avoid the
> main mistakes made during Dunc-Tank; in her project:

First a few general thoughts of mine on the topic "DDs/DMs getting paid
to do Debian work", then some answers to your more specific questions.

The fact that not all DDs are equal in terms of how/if they get paid for
their Debian work is, well, a fact.  Personally, my work contract does
not mention Debian at all, but I'm nevertheless doing some Debian
activities during my work time and that is accepted, if not encouraged.
Some DDs are able to pursue specific Debian projects due to bounties
they put on the projects (both AJ and Raphael have similar initiatives
on their homepages, even though I don't know how much they are
successful in terms of "customers"). Some others work for companies
which heavily use specific packages and they are therefore paid to
maintain such packages in Debian.

There is nothing wrong with that.  While all the above scenarios create
disparities, that's just life: as more and more the IT market gets
interested in FOSS, the more and more we will have people paid to work
on FOSS, and Debian is part of that.  We cannot stop that.

Still, Debian is a peculiar distribution also because it is a volunteer
project, not explicitly run or supported (e.g. in its infrastructure) by
any single/specific company.  That is a value: we should protect it, we
should *advertise* it (i.e. state clearly that in Debian money do not
drive decisions!), and we should never become *dependent* on specific
founding schemes.

According to this view of mine, the scenario created by the DD
contacting the DPL about such a proposition is dangerous, mainly because
it is a DD which is proposing it, leading to a potential conflict of

> What advice would you give her?

I would advice her, as a DD, to refrain from organizing that.

A bit of history. IIRC, the Dunc-Tank affair has gone through two
consequent problems. The first one was the proposal to use Debian money
to pay DDs. That proposal was taken back, since it was obvious that most
DDs were against. Then, the proposal was still pursued, now by
externalizing fund raising. Still, on the board of the organizers of the
(now) external activity, there were several DDs, including the DPL
himself. That was enough of a reason for unhappiness shared by a lot of
project members.

I've personally learned a lesson from the experience: explicit founding
of Debian activity should be *disjoint* from the project, both in terms
of where the money come from, and in terms of who are the people
organizing the machinery.

(For full disclosure and as an additional note: back then in Dunc-Tank I
 was not against external founding. However, the fact that it was
 _still_ that much controversial and flame-prone is enough of a reason,
 for me as potential DPL, to discourage any DDs/DMs for attempting it
 again. The benefits of the founding can be totally overtaken by the
 disadvantages of troubles created in the community.)

So, given that my main perplexities come from the fact that a DD is
involved in organizing all this, you can imagine I wouldn't mind: a
company doing that (which is already the case for Google with GSoC), a
non-DD/DM doing that, or even a DD/DM retiring from the project *to* do

> What other pitfalls from Dunc-Tank must she pay attention to?

She should pay attention to the fact that she is a DD. According to my
vision, that would then become a blocker to go forward.

> Do you have concrete suggestions for her on how it should be working?
> Would you encourage her to go forward or would you try to convince her to
> forget this idea?

In the end, it turns out I've already answered to these above :-)


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

Attachment: signature.asc
Description: Digital signature

Reply to: