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Re: to DPL candidates: getting new people to Debian

Hi Toni,

You quoted my mail by taking only one sentence of each of my paragraphs, so my
answers look much less subtle in your email than they were in my email. ;)

On 15/03/13 at 22:46 +0100, Toni Mueller wrote:
> Hi Lucas,
> On Mon, Mar 11, 2013 at 03:43:16PM +0100, Lucas Nussbaum wrote:
> > First, I don't think that age matters that much.
> imho, age does matter. See Bulbullle's notice why he doesn't run. I've
> seen people leaving other projects by eg. way of heart attack or traffic
> accident, too. Younger people tend to have less of the health problems,
> as well as more spare time.
> > You write about attracting people to free software. I'm not sure that we
> > have a problem here.
> I think we have. In my opinion, many users don't realise the value of
> "free as in free speech", and only see the value of "free as in free
> beer". Although I have tried to campaign in that direction, I have
> utterly failed to explain this issue to many people (esp. business
> people).
> > The number of free software users increases. Free
> ... mostly by way of accident, eg. by getting Ubuntu after their
> umpteenth computer breakdown due to a virus attack.

Yes, I addressed that in my platform:
   But we should also aim at reinforcing the visibility and the impact of
   Debian itself, because the extremely important values we fight for as a
   project are often neglected by our derivatives.

> > So we need to get more free software users to use Debian, more Debian
> > users to contribute, more contributors to become regular contributors,
> > etc. But I think I addressed that in my answer to Timo in
> > https://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2013/03/msg00014.html
> Your roadmap feels quite natural, but it's not yet a plan because the
> devil is in the detail: *How* do we get more people to use/... Debian?
> Simply saying "we need help" may easily make us look like beggars,
> yielding the opposite effect.

"we need help" is about getting people to *contribute* to Debian.

To get more people to *use* Debian, we need to reach out to people not using
Debian yet (obviously). One way to do that is to get involved in local
movements/events where it's possible to talk about Debian to people who, while
not really familiar with Free Software, are quite likely to be interested.
Usually, participation in such events leads to articles in the local press,
more participation to such events, etc.

How can we contribute to that on the project level?
By encouraging the debian events initiative (http://www.debian.org/events/), so
that setting up a booth will be much easier. Also, by being more open to non-DD
representing Debian at such events.

> Imho, a large part of the answer is in getting the cool back into
> Debian. In my discussion with other developers, I get the impression
> that Debian is viewed a huge bureaucratic monster, and you almost have
> to have a Ph.D. before you can reasonably expect to contribute. Which
> would preclude the participation of younger developers, if it were true,
> but I am convinced that it deters talent.
> Imho, we have to change that, somehow.

I fully agree (and I addressed that in my platform).

> At the next level of education, it would be great if people could
> establish Debian related projects as parts of coursework in high school
> or academia.

One thing I have done and that could be generalized is to ask students I
managed to provide a Debian package for software they use or develop during a

But asking students to contribute to Debian during university projects is quite
difficult (I have thought about it numerous times, but never found a
good-enough idea).  it would be interesting to share feedback on that, to
identify and suppress potential blockers.


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