Re: to DPL candidates: How do you plan to represent Debian externally?
On 2013-03-11 00:56, Paul Tagliamonte wrote:
I'd ask the DPL candidates to speak a bit about how they intend to
represent Debian externally
A few points:
I see the DPL as a kind of "chair" position rather than a "do
everything" one. For some aspects of external relations it may be
useful to show commitment by having the DPL speak/write/visit, but this
should be part of a wider approach which tries to connect Debian
contributors directly with people doing relevant work in external
organisations. Therefore I will answer your questions in a wider way
than by only focusing on the DPL's own representative role -- that role
should be used as a tool to bring about wider goals.
both in terms out downstream outreach
We should show our downstream users that we value them, including by
actively seeking good relationships with downstream distributions. It
would be appropriate for a new DPL to reach out to them, and in a more
personal way for larger ones.
It is normal that downstream distributions have different goals and
views from us, or they would be working in Debian. (In some other cases
people just don't realise they could do the same work within Debian,
which is a different issue.) While being firm on our own principles, we
should be make it clear to our downstream users that we are glad for
them to use our work in this way -- even if in many cases our long-term
hope is that their contributors shift to working directly in Debian.
We should also seek to work with downstream distributions better at the
individual package level. For more complex packages, maintainers can
benefit from starting a dialogue about issues and possible future
approaches, as happens in some cases already. Future technical
advances, such as a shared VCS representing all Debian packages, may
make it easier for downstream maintainers to take advantage of our work,
and also easier for us to pull useful changes back from them.
https://lists.debian.org/debian-derivatives/ is a good initiative for
talking with downstreams, that I would like to see pushed forward
More generally see http://wiki.debian.org/Derivatives/Census and help
as well as upstream (or even side-stream) relations.
Debian contributors already attend many major free software events
where they can discuss with people working on upstream projects. And
many Debian contributors are themselves part of upstream projects
relevant to their Debian work. In this area targetted relations may be
more useful than DPL speeches, though both can be used to advance our
Just as we should look how we can work better with downstream
distributions on a technical level, we should try to improve the example
we set by pushing Debian changes back upstream. This happens in many
cases, but there are other cases where improvements get stuck in Debian.
(Clearly we do publish Debian patches in a consistent way, but I'm not
sure that all upstream projects would know where to look, and we can't
expect them to check for changes in every distribution that exists.
Perhaps we should at least attempt to more visibly flag up packages with
significant code changes in the PTS etc.?)
What sort of plans do you have to collaborate with other F/OSS
communities? Other distros?
Relationships with non-derivative distributions are even more likely
than ones with downstream distributions to be seen as purely
competitive. But it will help our users and free software if we try to
work more closely with them. Again, at present some package maintainers
look at changes in unrelated distributions, but we have seen in the past
problems from cases where we work in isolation, including for important
security features. Again, we can hope that DVCS technology helps here,
though the fundamental issues are social ones. While targetted
relationships are probably most useful, in some cases DPL contact may
help make connections.
At a higher level, we should see what we can learn from the approaches
and processes of other distributions and other large software projects.
(Their experiences have certainly informed our discussions about release
methodologies in the past.)
Realtedly, what sort of messaging (on this topic) can we expect
from the future DPL?
I think I have more or less answered this above. While these
"external" topics should be addressed much more widely than by the DPL,
it can help our overall approach if the DPL makes public statements and
actions that show that we value our downstreams as well as upstreams,
and that we see ourselves as part of a wider free software community
that we wish to see flourish.