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Bits.Debian is an official Debian blog. This blog is under the same license and copyright as the Debian website, see Debian WWW pages license.

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Debian Project Leader elections 2013: interview with Lucas Nussbaum

March 27, 2013 17:52, by Bits from Debian - 0no comments yet

We have asked Lucas Nussbaum, one of the three candidates for DPL elections 2013, to tell our readers about himself and his ideas for the Debian Project.

You can also read the interviews to the other two candidates: Gergely Nagy and Moray Allan.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

Hi! I'm a 31 years old french computer geek. In my day job, I'm an assistant professor (Maître de Conférences) of Computer Science at Université de Lorraine.

What do you do in Debian and how did you started contributing?

Like many, I started contributing to Debian by creating and maintaining packages for my own software, in the Ruby team. Then, I discovered that, even if it's not so obvious from the outside, there are a lot of areas in Debian that could use more contributors. So I just started to contribute to more and more things.

There's a list of things I did in Debian in my platform. What I have been doing recently is:

  • rebuild all packages in Debian on a regular basis in order to identify packages that can no longer be built, and file bugs accordingly. In order to do that efficiently, I use cluster and cloud resources (more info)

  • develop and maintain Ultimate Debian Database, a data aggregator that collects data in most Debian services so that it is possible to expose it in interesting ways (e.g. find release-critical bugs affecting popular packages).

  • write and maintain a Debian Packaging tutorial, (packaging-tutorial package), to provide an easy-to-read introduction to packaging in Debian.

Why did you decide to run as DPL?

Two main reasons:

  • Most of my Debian contributions aim at addressing problems at the distribution scale (cross-distro collaboration, Quality Assurance, data-mining). Being DPL is a great way to contribute to Debian at this level.

  • the DPL campaign is a great time in Debian where we discuss the project's problems, politics and visions. Being a candidate is in itself a way to contribute to Debian (though it would be better if we had those discussions outside DPL campaigns too).

Three keywords to summarise your platform.

(re-)make Debian the center of the Free Software ecosystem; foster innovation inside Debian; reduce barriers to contributions

What are the biggest challenges that you envision for Debian in the future?

I often have the impression that the project is losing momentum, positive energy, and slowing down. It feels like we are living on the benefits of the past. A lot of very cool things happen in the Debian ecosystem, but very often outside the Debian project (in derivative distributions).

Debian should aim at reinforcing its position in the center of the Free Software ecosystem: it should be the main active intermediary between upstream projects and final users. To achieve that, we need to reinforce the visibility and the impact of Debian. This is extremely important because the values we fight for as a project are often neglected by our derivatives.

What are, in your opinion, the areas of the project more in need of technical and/or social improvements?

Fostering innovation inside Debian: we should be more welcoming towards innovation and experiments inside the project. Often, we merely tolerate them, and bureaucracy makes them hard and slow to conduct. As a result, people tends to innovate outside the Debian project.

Making it easier to contribute to Debian: we compete with more and more projects to attract contributors. While we are already quite good at welcoming new contributors with good documentation and mentoring (much better than people usually think), there's still a lot of room for improvement.

Why should people vote for you?

A great thing in Debian's voting system is that you don't vote "for" or "against" a specific candidate. Instead, due to our use of the Condorcet method, you rank candidates (and also indicate those who you consider suitable for the role by ranking a virtual "None of the above" candidate).

Why am I a good candidate? My previous contributions to Debian show that I have a pretty good understanding of the inner workings of the project, and that I have a track record of managing projects successfully inside Debian. I think that those are two required qualities for a DPL.

Name three tools you couldn't stay without.

vim, mutt, ssh.

What keep you motivated to work in Debian?

Debian is a fantastic project from a technical point of view (focus on technical excellence, lots of interesting challenges), but also from a social point of view: the Debian community is a great community where I have lots of good friends. Also, what's great when you contribute to Debian is that your work has a real impact, and that you see people using stuff you worked on everywhere.

Are there any other fields where you call yourself a geek, besides computers?

I'm not sure this really qualifies as "besides computers", but I've gotten very interested in the OpenStreetMap project lately. I very much enjoy exploring unmapped areas on a mountain bike. It feels like being Christopher Columbus or Marco Polo, but 20 minutes from home. ;) The OpenStreetMap and Debian projects also share many values, such as a great attention to quality and details.

Debian Project Leader elections 2013: interview with Gergely Nagy

March 27, 2013 17:50, by Bits from Debian - 0no comments yet

We have asked Gergely Nagy, one of the three candidates for DPL elections 2013, to tell our readers about himself and his ideas for the Debian Project.

You can also read the interviews to the other two candidates: Lucas Nussbaum and Moray Allan.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Hungary, a little bit over three decades ago, as a son of a biochemist and a pharmacist, who gave me the name Gergely Nagy (however, online - and offline too by now - I'm mostly known by my nickname, algernon).

I went on to study human arts (hungarian grammar & literature, in particular), and to support this passion, I work as a software engineer, one who gets paid to work on free software. As such, I'm in a fortunate situation where my hobby supports my passion, and my hobby aligns well with my Debian work too.

What do you do in Debian and how did you started contributing?

At the moment, apart from maintaining a few packages, I'm doing a few other, mostly invisible things, like reassigning misfiled bugs so they don't end up being forgotten; or review newly uploaded packages before they enter the archive, making sure we are allowed to distribute them, and that their quality is up to our standards. I used to do quite a lot of other things, but I chose to spend the past year mostly invisible, learning.

I started contributing by packaging an editor I was using at the time, but quickly ended up adopting another package - things escalated from there quickly.

Why did you decide to run as DPL?

There were two reasons that motivated me to run: one is that I believe I can bring something new to the table, that I can help Debian expand in new directions. The other reason is that I'm always on the lookout for new ways to contribute back to Debian, and being the project leader is a position where I believe I could contribute most at this point in time.

Three keywords to summarise your platform.

Non-technical contributors.

What are the biggest challenges that you envision for Debian in the future?

The biggest challenge is growing up, to become more than a group of computer geeks creating an amazing distribution. To become a community of a wide variety of people, where both computer geeks and art geeks feel equally at home. Yet, at the same time, where we as a project, keep our focus straight, and be the champions of Free Software.

We just need to realize that there's much more to Free Software than the software itself.

What are, in your opinion, the areas of the project more in need of technical and/or social improvements?

I believe that while we do have many areas where we could use technical improvements, we are reasonably safe there, because we do have very skilled technical people to help us solve these problems. We can make our tools better, we can develop our infrastructure better to aid us even more - and so on and so forth. While we need work on many areas, we're on the right track there.

However, when it comes to social issues, we're at a loss. We have serious trouble keeping certain topics civilised on mailing lists, we have trouble attracting women, and we have trouble reaching people who are not naturally exposed to Debian (or Free Software). We could really use a more diverse community, but that requires us to overcome quite a lot of social roadblocks, so to say. Outreach is one particular area where we need much more technical and social improvements.

Why should people vote for you?

People should vote me, because they found my platform, my answers on debian-vote@, and my ideas and goals convincing and worthy to pursue. People should vote me, because they trust I'll be able to serve the project well.

Name three tools you couldn't stay without.

Emacs, git and a pencil. Because with these three, I can pretty much do anything.

What keep you motivated to work in Debian?

The community. Over the years, I had the good fortune to meet with a lot of people I hold in high esteem, whose enthusiasm and motivation I found inspiring. For any other common goals Debian and I may share, in the end, it is the people within Debian that keep me motivated.

Are there any other fields where you call yourself a geek, besides computers?

I'm not quite there yet, but I'm working hard on becoming a human arts geek, or at least a geek of the hungarian language.

Candidates for the Debian Project Leader Elections 2013

March 23, 2013 14:00, by Bits from Debian - 0no comments yet

It's the time of the year when Debian Developers vote for a new Debian Project Leader (DPL). After 3 years as DPL, Stefano Zacchiroli is not running again but we have 3 brave candidates to be his successor:

You can find more information about the candidates by following the link on their names to read their platforms, or in the ongoing discussion in the debian-vote mailing list.

The campaigning period ends next Saturday, March 30th. Debian Developers will vote from March 31st to April 13th. The new term for the project leader will start on April 17th, 2013.

All the information about this vote and the final results will be published at the Debian Project Leader Elections 2013 voting page.

Call for Debian projects and mentors in the GSoC 2013

March 22, 2013 23:06, by Bits from Debian - 0no comments yet

Alt GSoC 2013 banner

As we did in previous years, the Debian Project is applying to become a mentoring organization during the 2013 edition of the Google Summer of Code program. We're now looking for projects and mentors. If you have an idea for a project, please publish it on the wiki page, filling out the template, and send us an email on the coordination mailing-list.

Google Summer of Code is a program that allows students to work over the summer on free software projects, paid supported financially by Google. In order to be accepted as a mentoring organization, Debian needs to present a good list of projects to be proposed to the students.

If you need help with an idea in drafting a project proposal, or on anything else related to GSoC, feel free to contact us by email at the coordination mailing-list, or on our IRC channel #debian-soc (on irc.debian.org). You can also browse the list of project with confirmed mentors for inspiration.

This post is a brief version of this email from GSoC Admins in Debian

Backports integrated into the main archive

March 18, 2013 14:00, by Bits from Debian - 0no comments yet

This is a repost from Gerfried Fuchs's post

Dear users and supporters of the backports service!

The Backports Team is pleased to announce the next important step on getting backports more integrated. People who are reading debian-infrastructure- announce will have seen that there was an archive maintenance last weekend: starting with wheezy- backports the packages will be accessible from the regular pool instead of a separate one, and all backports uploads will be processed through the regular upload queue (including those for squeeze-backports and squeeze-backports- sloppy).

For Users

What exactly does that mean for you? For users of wheezy, the sources.list entry will be different, a simple substitute of squeeze for wheezy won't work. The new format is:

deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian/ wheezy-backports main

So it is debian instead of debian-backports, and offered through the regular mirror network. Feel invited to check your regular mirror if it carries backports and pull from there.

For Contributers

What does it mean for contributing developers? Uploads for backports are no longer to be pushed to backports-master but to ftp.upload.debian.org, like any other regular package. Also, given that the packages are served from the same archive install there is no need to include the original tarball in the upload any longer because the archive knows it (Squeeze and beyond).

Also, given that the upload goes to the same upload queue, there is only one keyring used anymore, so no more pain with expired or replaced keys. We though still keep the rule of adding your UID to an ACL list (this also includes DM additions). This is mostly only to give us the chance to remind you that uploads to backports are directly available for installation onto stable systems and you thus should take special care there. We carefully tried to take over the old ACLs, in case you can't upload anymore, please tell us so we can look into the issue.

I've mentioned wheezy-backports (and squeeze-backports-sloppy) a few times here already, and you might wonder when it will be available. Technically, it is available from now on. Practically, while you could already upload to it, the set up of the buildd network is more painful than expected, so please allow the Buildd Team some days for setting them up.

The upload rules for wheezy-backports are the same: packages that are in the next suite are accepted. Given that Jessie isn't created yet, we want you to think about whether the package you want to upload will go into Jessie final, and that you are taking a closer look once Jessie is created and the package entered there about the upgradeability. For the time until the suite is available, you can see this as relaxed upload rule.

The same goes for squeeze-backports-sloppy: packages from two suites after Squeeze are acceptable, which turns it into the same relaxed rule as wheezy- backports above. Please also keep in mind that uploads to squeeze-backports- sloppy usually should be accompanied by uploads to wheezy-backports so people are able to upgrade from squeeze-backports-sloppy to wheezy with wheezy- backports.


Finally, we want to thank the FTP-Master Team for their fine work on making this happen.

The documentation on backports-master has been updated, and in case of any doubt or question, feel free to ask them on either the debian-backports mailinglist, or in case of sensitive topics ask us directly.


Rhonda for the Backports Team

Welcome to the Debian Blog!

March 17, 2013 14:00, by Bits from Debian - 0no comments yet

Welcome to the Debian Blog!

Please subscribe to the Atom or RSS feed available from the lateral menu and read the About page if you want to know more about this blog.