Re: How to leverage money to accomplish high impact Debian projects
On 2021/03/18 19:46, Raphael Hertzog wrote:> I announced this on
debian-project and on Planet Debian a while ago.
> But at this point, we have only funded a single project, leaving us
> with more than 25 KEUR available for further projects.
> I did not expect this lack of interest... if I were not running Freexian,
> I would have proposed projects out of the long list of distro-tracker
> wishlist bugs... I enjoy working on this project and I wish I had more
> time for it.
> 1/ How do you explain this lack of interest?
I don't think that lack of interest is the problem here, but I do think
that Debian contributors tend to be already starved for time, and trying
to get them to do more is like trying to tap water out of an empty well.
For some, a financial incentive might work if they're not currently
working full time, and especially if they need money, but the median
Debian developer seem capable of sustaining themselves reasonably well.
> I have read recently from other Debian members that they have a feeling
> that Debian is stagnating, and I share that feeling to some degree. If we
> had plans and motivated people, surely some of those would have stepped up
> to implement them in exchange of some remuneration. Do you share that
> feeling too?
We're always going to be growing in some ways and stagnating in other
ways. What I've found is that the people complaining about stagnating
parts are very eager to ignore all the parts where the innovation is
happening. Motivating people is great, it's something that's been at the
top of my mind regularly when it comes to Debian. In my experience,
having co-ordinated events do more to make things happen than flinging
some carrots at people. Over the last year we had DC20 online and
another bunch of online events (Fique em Casa Use Debian, MiniDebConf
Online, MiniDebConf Online Gaming Edition, MiniDebConf Online Brazil
2020 and MiniDebConf Online India). Each event brought with it its own
innovations, unique flavours and some new people who are curious about
Debian. I think that you'll have more success talking about the Freexian
initiatives at these kinds of events and attract new people to work on
ideas. Of course, if they're new they might work a bit slower and
ultimately cost a bit more, but I think overall that would still be
I've been telling a few people last month that I would really liked to
have an Enterprise Edition Online MiniDebConf, unfortunately I don't
have any time/energy to instigate that currently. It could cover aspects
that already make Debian good for business, and cover areas where it
could improve. I used to be on an Ubuntu mailing list called
ubuntu-enterprise, it mostly contained feature requests from people who
wanted more features for enterprise and large deployment use, but even
those were really interesting. Also, I think even just some of our usual
sponsors would already be interested in speaking at such an event, but I
> 2/ I really want this initiative to be successful so I'm now looking into
> ways to make it work. I'm considering paying someone to identify useful
> projects. That person could talk to various teams, make proposals based on
> their own experience, and even run a poll among Debian developers. The
> idea is that we want to find high-impact projects that can help Debian get
> out of this "stagnation".
> What do you think of this idea?
> 3/ While the DPL can't spend Debian's money to pay people, the funds
> available in Freexian's reserve have been clearly earmarked in this
> direction by the LTS sponsors.
> Do you think the DPL should be able to propose projects that would be
> funded through this initiative, so that DPLs can have a bit more impact in
> areas where they want to improve the current situation?
It's probably best to have as many ideas come into that funnel as
possible, so I'd say it would probably be a good idea to get some ideas
from the DPL too. There's a very long list of projects within Debian
that could do with more help, structure or even a complete reboot,
although some tact and planning will also go a long way, you don't want
to jump in to a team and tell them "oh we paid someone to fix all the
problems in the team and this is how they're going to do it". Sometimes
it's better to allow things to happen than to make them happen. I'm
hoping that if we are able to have sprints/meetings again in person,
that many of our teams will take advantage of it and spend some time and
project money to get together and work on projects. If you invite and
let Debian teams know that they could apply for some funding from
Freexian to get someone to spend more time on some problem, then that's
probably going to scale a bit better since they might already have a
better idea on how to integrate this kind of work into their team.
> Sorry for the hard questions and thanks for the time you spend for
> Debian. :-)
Thanks for the questions!