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bits from the DPL for July 2011

From:  Stefano Zacchiroli <>
Subject:  bits from the DPL for July 2011
Date:  Wed, 24 Aug 2011 15:53:41 +0200
Message-ID:  <>
Archive-link:  Article

Dear Developers,
  here is a report of DPL activities for July 2011. I apologize for the
embarrassing delay, but I've been away, shamelessly on vacation, for the
first half of August. On the bright side, this delay means that very
soon you will re-hear back from me for a report about August, happy? :)



The main highlight for July is, of course, DebConf11 [1]. It's been a
blast: hundreds of Debian Developers and contributors have flocked
together in Banja Luka to have fun improving Debian. If you haven't
attended, no problem, you could catch up with what happened at DebConf11
by perusing the videos of all events [2] that the Video Team has made
available since the very end of DebConf11.

I've myself hosted several DPL-related events at DebConf. I list some of
there here and other further down this mail, to let you know what I've
been working on:

- bits from the DPL [4]: my take on the present role of Debian in the
  world and what we could do to be up to it

- ask the leader [5], a session chaired by Neil McGovern where I've been
  tortured^W interviewed for about 1 hour

- DPL wannabe BoF [6], panel discussion with several (ex-)DPLs about
  what the DPL does and how you should better prepare to be the next
  one! (hint, hint)

- DEX and derivatives [20]: review and discussion of a couple of years
  of activities aimed at improving collaboration with derivatives

Of course, the DebConf11 events I'll mention are not the only relevant
events of the conference, and for sure not the most interesting one. I
encourage you to have a look at the schedule [3] of the whole conference
and check the outcome of every event relevant to your Debian activities.

DebConf11 has also been the occasion to meet with Government of
Republika Srpska minister of science and technology, Bakir Ajanovic, to
discuss Free Software benefits for public administrations, as well as
how public administrations can interact with Free Software communities
such as ours.


Software Patents

The other highlight for July is the first milestone of collaboration
with SFLC [7] on the topic of software patents (swpat) and their impact
on community distribution. The collaboration started one year ago, as
announced during a swpat-related event at DebConf10 [8]. The first
visible outcome is a document titled "Community Distribution Patent
Policy FAQ" [9,10,11]. With it, instead of only doing swpat risk
assessment in private (which is unfortunately the rule in the swpat
world), we have tried to provide guidelines on how to deal with swpat,
considering the specificities of non-commercial, community-driven
distribution such as Debian. The document is recommended reading for all
of us, as it both explains swpat risks and addresses some swpat
FUD. Even though we consider Debian to be a rather uninteresting target
for patent trolls and the like, I'm available to help out proxying
specific requests of legal advice through Debian/SPI lawyers, if the
need arises.

I'd like to take this chance to thank Don Armstrong, for his inputs on
this matter.


Call for help: hardware coordination team

As briefly discussed on -devel, DSA is looking for help in forming a
hardware _coordination_ team, which should subsume the role of the
current hardware _donation_ contact point. Check the (sub-)thread at
[12] for a brief task description and please contact me if you are
interest in helping out with that.


Trademark "Fun"

GNOME trademark

During July, we have had even more trademark fun. As part of #607839, we
have discovered that (a strict interpretation of) the GNOME trademark
guidelines would have inhibited Debian to redistribute GNOME without
changing its name. Both myself, ftp-masters, and several members of the
GNOME board have took part in the discussion, a partial summary of which
can be found in a -project mail from ftp-masters [13]. During DebConf,
I've had a long phone call on the subject with Karen Sandler, in her
capacity of Executive Director of the GNOME foundation.

As a result, I'm happy to share the good news that the GNOME-specific
part of the issue is on its way to be solved. Not only the GNOME
foundation is not interested in enforcing the current policy, but they
are also aware that their current policy is too strict and are working
in improving it [14].

Debian-side, though, I agree with ftpmasters [13] that we should have a
project wide discussion on which stance we take on too restrictive
trademark policies and what interaction there is (if there is one) among
those policies and DFSG. I plan to launch that discussion on -project
and I'm working on an initial proposal; I'd appreciate if you can follow
the discussion on -project as soon as it starts and provide your input


Debian trademark

Coincidentally, during July we have also advanced a bit on the front of
the Debian trademark. With the help of Jimmy Kaplowitz (in his
capacities of SPI director) and Mishi Choudhary (lawyer at SFLC), we
have completed a survey of existing Debian-related trademark and
finalized the payment (~ 3k$) for the extension of the trademark on the
"DEBIAN" name to the European Union, China, and Japan. Our trademark
page [15] is not yet up to date, but I'll propose the needed changes

Work is also ongoing on improving our own trademark policy (also at
[15]), with the goal of making it more liberal and more compatible with
DFSG-free copyright licensing, without posing risks to our assets. This
will be covered in a future report.



To catch up with the status quo, I've formalized the delegation of the
backports team [16] (which was long overdue, due to delays of my own).


Sprints and money

In the DebConf11 BoF "Sprints and Money" [17] and in an associated blog
post [18], I've reviewed the sprints we have had in the past 16 months
and the corresponding budgets. The bottom-line is that sprints as we do
them now are largely sustainable from the financial point of view and
that we could (and should!) have more of them.  The main potential
bottleneck at present is at the organization level, thus far run by
yours truly.

I'm therefore happy to report that Neil McGovern and Steve McIntyre have
volunteered to help out with sprint organization and, to that end, have
created the debian-sprints mailing list. It is not a discussion list,
but rather the place where to drop sprint requests and receiving help in
how to have a sprint for your favorite team. Next time you want to have
a sprint, just drop a mail there! If, on the other hand, you're willing
to help out with sprint organization, please join the list.

On the topic of money and other Debian assets, auditor initiatives are
finally taking off, as you can learn from the event "Care-taking of
Debian finances: assets and processes", hosted by Martin & Martin
(Michlmayr & Wuertele), which I hereby thank for their work on the


DebConf in Debian

In the event "DebConf in Debian" [21], together with the DebConf chairs,
we have reviewed about 1 hear of activities for de-duplicating processes
and infrastructure among the DebConf team and other Debian teams.
Summarizing discussions that took place during DebConf11 itself on the
subject, we have also outlined the remaining steps ahead of us.


Other talks

Shortly before DebConf11, I've given an invited talk about Debian at a
couple of events in Portugal:

- ACM OSDOC'11 [22]
- MOSS workshop [23]

slides are available [24,25].  As part of the second event, I've also
took part in a very interesting roundtable about relationships with
derivatives and how to better push changes upstream, together with the
technical lead of the Caixa Magica distribution.


Stay tuned for the forthcoming August report,

PS as usual, the boring day-to-day activity log is available at
Stefano Zacchiroli -o- PhD in Computer Science \ PostDoc @ Univ. Paris 7
zack@{,,} -<>-
Quando anche i santi ti voltano le spalle, |  .  |. I've fans everywhere
ti resta John Fante -- V. Capossela .......| ..: |.......... -- C. Adams

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