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Re: How to leverage money to accomplish high impact Debian projects

On 18/03/21 11:16 pm, Raphael Hertzog wrote:
> Dear DPL candidates,
> when I was younger, I dreamed to be paid to do Debian work. But that was
> not possible, and that's the reason why I started my own company Freexian
> 16 years ago. Through those years I always kept this goal in mind (it's
> part of my personal mission statement for Freexian).
Some of my Debian work is sponsored by Gitlab and I am happy that I can
dedicate my whole time to Debian without having to worry about earning a
living. So I can understand your thought process.
> Now thanks to the success of the Debian LTS sponsorship and of the
> numerous companies that understand the importance of giving back to
> Debian, Freexian is in the position to pay some people to do useful Debian
> work. We formalized this with a mechanism to propose projects to be
> funded:
> https://salsa.debian.org/freexian-team/project-funding/
> I announced this on debian-project[1] and on Planet Debian[2] a while ago.
> But at this point, we have only funded a single project[3], leaving us
> with more than 25 KEUR available for further projects.
This sounds like a good idea from which both our community and Debian as
a project can benefit.
> 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 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?

I am not sure this is lack of interest. As mentioned by some of the
replies already, not all who contribute to Debian are looking for
monetary benefit. But yes, there are people who would be happy to
receive some monetary compensation to balance out their work. A bit more
publicity might help here. As Jonathan mentioned, mentioning in miniDCs
etc would help reach out to wider audience, mostly new comers (who might
need the monetary benefit the most).

> 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?
> I'm considering past DPLs for this role as they have a broad knowledge of
> the project and usually also some vision for the future. But I'm open to
> anyone than can convince me they would do a good job for this. :-)
This is a good initiative that I also believe should succeed. One person
working on identifying high impact projects sounds good, but being said
that, I do not think we can find a perfect way to work out things during
this election discussion. We can either have further discussions on this
topic (may be at -devel or -project) or you can go ahead with the
experiment and see where it goes.
> 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?
I do not think this will be a good idea. DPL suggesting projects or
people to be paid will not go well. While I strongly believe that there
should be options for people to earn living by contributing to Debian,
Debian and DPL should not be involved directly with those activities.
> Sorry for the hard questions and thanks for the time you spend for
> Debian. :-)
> The election is always a period where we look back a bit and think of
> bigger changes, so even if those questions are meant for the prospective
> DPL, I welcome feedback from everybody really.
> Cheers,
> [1] https://lists.debian.org/debian-project/2020/11/msg00002.html
> [2] https://raphaelhertzog.com/2020/12/14/funding-debian-development-projects-with-freexian-first-project-received/
> [3] https://salsa.debian.org/freexian-team/project-funding/-/issues/4

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