Debian Election 2006 (March 26, 2006)
The Debian Linux distribution
is currently electing its
project leader for 2006. Debian uses secret ballots, but I am
going to post my votes online here nonetheless.
In general, it is a real pleasure reading the platforms and
rebuttals of so many thoughtful and enthusiastic people. Software
distributions are a core part of people's computing experiences, and
Debian thus fills a vital role. Debian is my favorite Linux
distribution, because it allows new people to contribute relatively
easily, and thus it has grown to 900 developers (at last count) who
maintain over 10,000 packages.
I am personally a very minor Debian developer, contributing just
enough that I do in fact get a vote. While I like working on Debian,
I usually have plenty of neglected research projects that can soak up
any spare hours I find.
My desiderata for a project leader are:
- Someone who thinks of Debian as producing a Linux distribution.
This sounds obvious, but most of the leaders' platforms are about
bureaucratic procedures. The fact that Ubuntu is making a good
distribution for desktop users is a fringe discussion topic not even
mentioned by many of the candidates. I favor candidates who make it
the main topic. Remember the goal!
- Debian's legal decisions are amateurish and extreme. The
debian-legal list is happy to wax about law theories and legal hair
splitting, e.g. the difference between contracts and agreements. At
the end of this "process", they reject software that is perfectly well
free for all practical purposes. This is an important subtopic of
point 1: as a Linux distribution, you need to get used to the idea of
distributing existing free Linux software. I would like a project
leader who pushes for realistic and practical legal decisions, instead
of trying to make Debian to spend its time practicing amateur law.
- Leaders should be good leaders. For example, they should have a
lot of experience with the project, not just interesting ideas. They
should be good at working with people, including when they disagree.
- The "DLT" is a bad idea. The idea is something like, a subgroup
of the Debian Developers have secret meetings and then make things
happen when the general group is too slow to make it happen. I love
the idea of having vital subgroups. I intensely dislike
giving any such group an official status, however. There should be
many DLT's, not one, and they should all have to air their ideas in
public before making any decisions that affect the group. This is a
subpoint of point 3: Anyone who pushed for the DLT is not following
Not a soul cares about my point 2. Debian developers of today seem
happy to browbeat open-source developers for not being open-source
enough. Yuck--this may motivate me to leave the project. In the
meantime, the focus is on the other three:
Finally, here is my (Condorcet) vote:
- Anthony Towns. He has been a release manager for the project. He
thus has in-depth knowledge of what is in the project and what it
takes to actually produce a Linux distribution (see point 1!).
His writing comes off as very friendly, and the other leader
nominees all say they can work with him (did I mention that Debian
includes many of honest and forthright people?).
- Steve McIntyre. His experience with making Debian CD's is
positive in my accounting (point 1). An the other hand, he is a
heavy proponent of a code of
conduct. I admire his attention to improving communication,
but I do not know if a code of conduct is the right kind of
procedure to implement.
- Jeroen van Wolffelaar. He does not have lengthy experience, but
that experience is intense. Unfortunately, that experience is
part of the DLT. I promote him nonetheless because he appears to
be a good leader otherwise: he wants to facilitate communication,
and otherwise (from my quick reading) not to do much else as the
- Andreas Schuldei. He really likes the DLT. As good of a
candidate as he is otherwise, I really think that DLT's undermine
the Debian's democratic system. If he comes up with another
organization for the DLT, I could happily rank him higher next
- Bill Allombert. He is openly more interested in the "political
significance" of Debian than the actual work of it. See my point
1. I enjoy reading Mr. Allombert's thoughts, but I would prefer
for the project leader someone who focuses on getting things
- Ted Walther. Ted rocks. He is very fun to read. He would be an
- Ari Pollak. As snarky as I am feeling this morning, I would not
vote a cat ahead of a human. Shame on anyone who did. Commentary
is fun and all, but actual votes should be taken seriously.