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Re: Question for all candidates: Care of Core infrastructure

On Mon, Mar 15, 2010 at 11:30:39AM +0100, Marc Haber wrote:
> This is for all candidates.
> In the last years I have seen a really disturbing development in
> Debian: New developers are very interested in bringing new packages
> into Debian, but care for our core infrastructure (dpkg, apt) has a
> little bit diminished. I am not saying that noone seems to care, but
> I see a lot of annoying issues not being addressed.
> An totally incomplete list:
[...snip examples...]
> Do you see the diminishing care for our Core infrastructure as a
> problem?

Yes. I point to this very problem in my platform (though I give
different examples, the points are basically the same). But I believe
the problem is wider than just the core infrastructure; it is about the
project as a whole facing competition for attracting distribution
developers by the fact that there are several other community-based
distributions out there today than there were about a decade ago.

The numbers are easy. The amount of Debian Developers has been
approximately steady at about 1000 for the past ten years. Over that
same time, the amount of packages in our distribution has been steadily
increasing. By definition, that means the ratio of Debian Developers per
package has been doing down, and thus also that the core infrastructure
has less contributors. Having more packages does not necessarily mean
that only fringe packages are added; useful new software is written all
the time, and the fact that useful new software is written does not make
useful old software disappear.

I believe the problem is not that less people are interested in Debian's
core infrastructure; the problem is that less people are interested in
*Debian*. We need to work on that. As we say in Dutch, "stilstaan is
achteruitgaan" -- "standing still is the same as going backwards" -- and
the number of DDs has not been going up for quite a while now.

> Do you have any idea how do sensibilize our new blood for the
> fact that "new packages" doesn't help Debian if our Core stuff is
> diminishing? I know that this is not exactly within the power of the
> DPL, but do you think that you, as DPL, can help speeding up Core
> development again?

Given the above, I believe the most important task ahead of us is making
Debian more attractive for users and prospective contributors; that is
what I intend to work on.

The biometric identification system at the gates of the CIA headquarters
works because there's a guard with a large gun making sure no one is
trying to fool the system.

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