Last week's announcement
set off flame wars and controversy on Debian mailing lists including a rash of general resolutions
and a post from
the Project Secretary on the procedure for
proposing and sponsoring General resolutions
. It even had
Debian is dying?'.
The Dunc-Tank.org is described as
"fund-raising experiment" with the initial goal of raising funds to pay
Debian release managers Steve Langasek and Andreas Barth to work full time
on the Debian Etch release, for a period of one month each. This project
is independent of the Debian Project, however the Dunc board is made up
of prominent Debian Developers including current Debian Project Leader
Anthony Towns and his assistant DPL Steve McIntyre.
Therein comes the controversy. If the DPL is involved, doesn't that make
it a Debian Project? Can the DPL remain objective and unbiased while
working on Debian and an organization. Should Debian Developers be paid to
do work on Debian?
The goal is to release Etch on schedule, which is December 4, 2006. The
Debian Project and the Dunc-Tank share that goal. People will argue about
how that should be achieved, but there's general agreement on the goal. If
independent companies share that goal and want to help out in some fashion
their assistance should be appreciated. The DPL should ensure that any
help accepted from independent companies does not somehow compromise
Debian. If the DPL is also the CEO of the independent company that is
offering its assistance, there could be a conflict of interest. In this
case Anthony has started an organization that he hopes will be able to help
Debian. Dunc-Tank is an experiment which may or may not be effective. If
Etch is released on schedule and Dunc-Tank helps with that goal, then every
one should be can be happy about achieving that goal. If it fails
Dunc-Tank won't have much of a future.
Should Debian Developers, who are all volunteers, ever be paid to work on
Debian? In fact many Debian Developers have found gainful employment that
allows them to work on Debian as part of their job. Companies who use
Debian internally or have based their products on Debian, such as HP,
Canonical, Progeny, etc., employ Debian Developers and expect them to work
on Debian during company time. For the most part DDs who find such
employment are encouraged, applauded, and occasionally envied, but are
generally not accused of having a conflict of interest. If the release
managers don't have to worry about making a living while devoting their
time to the Etch release it just might help Etch go out on time.
In spite of the resolution calling for
the recall of Anthony Towns as DPL, it would seem that Anthony has a fair
amount of support from the developers. Anthony has
offered to step down if that's what people really want, but having him
step down at this point won't help Etch release on time and it may ensure
that the release is hopelessly delayed.
The recall proposal would require two weeks of discussion followed by
another two weeks of voting. If the resolution passed another project
leader election would start immediately with nine weeks of nominating,
campaigning and voting. Could Etch still be released on time with that
going on? Maybe, I think most DDs would rather concentrate on the
release. If Dunc-Tank proves an absysmal failure then there will still be
time to oust Anthony before his term as DPL is over.
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