floated the idea
Martin Michlmayr has
of allowing vendors and projects to carry a Debian brand to promote their efforts and the Debian Project.
Work based on the Debian Project has certainly found its way into plenty
of third-party projects. The KNOPPIX
project is based on Debian GNU/Linux, as well as Xandros, Lindows.com, and the Skolelinux distribution
for schools. Many, but not all, of the organizations that work with
Debian have also been good about folding code back into the Debian
Project. It would certainly raise the visibility of the Debian Project
if all of these projects carried a Debian brand. It may be no secret to
KNOPPIX users that KNOPPIX is based on Debian GNU/Linux, but how many
Lindows users are aware of the Debian connection?
The discussion came about because the Skolelinux project sought to call
their non-profit foundation "Debian Foundation Norway." Michlmayr
indicates that it would be a bad idea to let third-parties that are
paying developers to use the Debian name itself:
However, I believe that "Debian" should not pay developers. By "Debian"
I mean the project as a whole or any of its organizations (such as SPI).
"Debian" paying developers might lead to many problems. The project
paying some developers while others work on it in their spare time is
not fair, and there is the big problem of selecting who to hire. This
can cause great animosity and have bad effects on the motivation of
No doubt some developers would chafe at the idea of other Debian
developers being paid by the project for their efforts, while they're busy
for free. But few, if any, seem to mind when code makes its way back
from projects that are utilizing work from the Debian Project, whether
the developers working on said code are paid or volunteer. Michlmayr
proposes that third parties be allowed to use a "Debian Labs" or similar
brand to indicate that they're doing work related to Debian without
being an official part of the Debian Project.
We could create a "Debian Labs" brand and publicize what it means for an
organization to carry that name. Since we own the Debian trademark, we
can control who is allowed to use the "Debian Labs" brand. We have to
develop a set of guidelines for this. So in some sense Debian has some
control over what those organizations do. On the other hand, they are
largely autonomous of Debian and can do with their money whatever they
want -- that way, "Debian" wouldn't need to decide who to hire, etc, and
could avoid the problems described in the mail mentioned above.
Though the idea has been well received so far, Michlmayr says it still
needs to be fleshed out. One major question is whether for-profit
companies would be allowed to use the Debian Labs brand. Several users
on the Debian mailing list were against allowing for-profit companies to
use a Debian Labs brand or similar, while a few said they had no problem
with the idea of a commercial entity using Debian Labs.
Another concern that was raised is to make sure that any agreement that
would allow an outside organization to use a Debian brand could be
terminated. It would be somewhat embarrassing, to say the least, to have
a "SCO Debian Labs" brand still in widespread use at this point.
If the idea comes to fruition, a Debian trademarked brand will no doubt
carry much more stringent guidelines than the Linux trademark, which is
administered fairly liberally. If the Debian Project can come up with a
workable agreement, it would no doubt be of benefit to the project and
the projects and organizations using Debian in their work.
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