It’s almost the end of financial year in Australia, so what better time
to take stock?
I’m actually a bit surprised at just how much I need to do that –
I knew being DPL would involve some new challenges, but it’s barely two
months in and I’m already just about in shock. Guess it serves me right
for putting “increasing Debian’s tempo” in my platform…
The two other roles I’ve been in that I would have expected to
prepare me more have been Debian release manager, and secretary of Linux
Australia. They’re both similar in a way – the release manager does a
lot of cat herding within Debian, and has to make some calls that will
leave people aggrieved; and Linux Australia has some contact with the
press, and some reasonably serious projects going on. So a few issues were
completely expected: a random initial slashdotting
, a press
, an interview
, some requests for
quotes in articles
and press releases
or ongoing opposition
Debianites who don’t happen to agree with me on some decision.
There were other things that were new and interesting though not
really surprising. The leader@ mail address turned out to have just as
much spam as I expected, though also some unexpected interesting stuff
too, including my first ever personally addressed open letter
in this case by Keith Curtis who also wrote the 10,000 bugs away from
article that got slashdotted a while back. A tidbit:
Everyone agrees that Ubuntu couldn’t exist without Debian, but I also
believe that Debian is better setup to take Ubuntu where it needs to
go. There are hints that the Ubuntu team feels like they brought a pork
chop suit to a lions den. Ubuntu’s user base and development team is
growing exponentially, but I believe they could get there much faster
with more of Debian’s help.
Keith also forwarded an open letter he’d written to Mark
, and had some interesting comments on the whole Java
thing. As well, I suddenly started receiving SPI board mail, as Debian’s
advisory representative to the SPI board, and started getting a couple
of requests for authorising expenditures (Debian UK reimbursing Matthew
Garrett for travel costs to the Gnome Advisory Board meeting in 2005) or
providing a Debian representative for a meeting
or joining the
Google Summer of Code
. And then there were the cool things
I knew absolutely nothing about, like the excellent news Christian
Perrier passed on about the launch of Dzongkha Linux
featured in news reports from Bhutan
Of course, I completely expected that all this would overload me a bit,
and I’d end up getting distracted from what I wanted to do, and not being
able to keep up with stuff other people wanted me to do. To help with
this a little, I delegated
Steve McIntyre as, essentially,
a co-DPL, and he’s been working on
a few things, including
the now successful switch of irc.debian.org over to OFTC
and another fun little endeavour that I won’t spoil just yet.
Things started getting a bit weird as I was preparing to travel off to
debconf in Mexico – with some frustrated comments from damog
, which was odd coming
from the conference organisers themselves; and independently the
of some old tension on the debian-installer
team. That got compounded at debconf itself, with the controversy over
the inclusion of Sun Java in non-free extending not just to the lists,
but an article in LWN
(with a followup
) as well
as numerous other places around the net.
That issue came to something of a climax when John Goerzen (with
whom I’ve had some entertaining disagreements
in the past)
whether SPI had been sufficiently involved in the
decision (“I am becoming increasingly concerned at the unilateral method
in which you and/or the archive maintainers have taken this decision.”),
to which I responded fairly curtly
to defend the way Debian
makes decisions (“If SPI wish to withdraw from their relationship with
Debian, then that’s entirely possible to arrange. I don’t think it’s at
all proper that you try to obtain veto power of Debian’s activities as
conducted by the duly authorised members of that organisation.”). Nothing’s
really news there – flamewar on Debian lists between influential project
members? Next thing you know the sun will rise in the East every morning, and
then where will we be?
What’s not so normal is those flamewars getting front
on slashdot, or noted in an article
on distrowatch. As far as Debian’s concerned, we had a
couple more rounds
, both in public
and on the developer only -private list, then moved onto actually
the legal advice John wanted. That’s actually still
pending, and the debate has pretty much abated while that’s going on.
And meanwhile, Wouter Verhelst, Manoj Srivastava, and others have started
a much more productive look
at Debian’s relationship with SPI
and similar organisations, which has continued on to a draft
of a constitutional amendment.
But there was more stress and chaos
at debconf than just
the Java stuff, but what’s really impressive is the way people ended up
dealing with it. Take damog
Just as Tore said: This is the best DebConf ever. Isn’t it great?
I started really enjoying this DebConf once I stopped worrying about
bullshit, once I stopped worrying about senseless things and started to
really give a shit about almost anything. Why do I need Gunnar to tell
my girlfriend Ana, “you picked up the irresponsible one”? Why do I have
to worry about the DPL giving a shit or not on the Latinamerican Debian
community, even after being invited to meet the guys or to attend our BOF?
[…] I enjoy people here, thanks to all the organization cabal, thanks
for your effort and your time on this.
But after leaving all of this behind, I think Ana and me are having
a great time sharing time with friends around us (the friends, los
cuates, we are here for).
After seeing that post, and figuring out who damog actually was when
he gave a lightning talk towards the end of the conference, we had a
chance to briefly chat about what was going on – somehow I hadn’t taken
in the invitation to attend the BOF, and had been told it was all in
Spanish anyway, so hadn’t gone; meanwhile they’ve been thinking about
holding a Debian miniconf in Latin America somewhere and wanting to
know what sort of support they can get from the rest of the project –
particularly moral support rather than financial, at that. Hopefully
we’ll see news on that score in the coming months.
But really, damog was right in the first place anyway: why care if
the DPL supports you or not? Debian’s about everyone doing what they
think is good and worthwhile, and that combining to produce something
great – it’s not about what some guy who got six votes more than the
next guy happens to think is important.
But support is important, whether it comes in the form of a DPL saying
“good idea!”, or something else
. Gunnar’s response
to the latter, eg:
Debian is love.
After my scream for help a couple of days ago, and after a mountain
of hard work, things are just running. No, we are not -by far- free
of incidents, and it would be foolish to expect it to be so, but we
are working nicely. And by the way, thank you, I have been receiving
the largest amount of hugs ever, and believe me, each of them has been
Thank you all, folks. I am in Cristoph Berg’s talk about reworking NM
- And this comes very good to wrap up my post. Debian is much, much more
than technical work. It is a social club. I love this social club. Just
sitting here makes long months of work really worth it.
A great hug back to you all!
And in the end we got quite a bit out of debconf6, for example
more movement on the forthcoming release
on i18n stuff
, a new publicity project
on updating python
, amongst other things. Who knows if the next
debconf will manage to be anywhere near as much of an experience, but
at least we’ll find out fairly soon
where it’s going to be
(though that process isn’t without hiccups
of its own).
Post debconf, there’s also been a notable influx of trolling
going on too; with the most obvious and odious example being the
insane, anonymously-posted prayers for a female developer’s
. Fortunately those have mostly been ignored as the mindless
spam they are, though one might argue that Marcela Tiznado’s
acceptance as a DD on her birthday, and the inclusion
in the official debian.org namespace are a
more appropriate response to that sort of harassment than any sort of
direct reply anyway.
Not all our problems have conveniently been resolved right now,
of course, the difficulties related to the installer team I alluded to
above are ongoing
, and at the moment a really good solution
is still eluding us, though development continues anyway.
And then, of course, there’s more to come – half the point of
posting this is so I can stop worrying about all the stuff that’s been
and gone, and get on with interesting things like the next point
, and the various other projects that I’ve let languish
for the past few weeks.