So you want to be a Debian developer? You’re not the only one. Preparing software packages for the distribution, writing documentation, and testing a release are all endless, thankless tasks. Yet, at any given time, hundreds have applied to do them. However, before candidates are trusted with such tasks, they have to prove not only their programming skills, but also their understanding of Debian processes and philosophy. The process takes months, and there are few exceptions.
Becoming a Debian developer
2005-02-03 Debian 16 Comments
It’s a good article on the whole, but it fails to mention one of the most crucial privileges official developer status bestows – the ability to propose and vote on General Resolutions and Project Leader elections (http://www.debian.org/vote/).
Since the author makes note of criticisms concerning the amount of time the New Maintainer process takes, it would be fairer to mention the current Project Leader’s recent attempts to reduce the human bottlenecks somewhat. For instance, at least two more developers have joined the Front Desk (http://lists.debian.org/debian-project/2005/01/msg00255.html) and an additional Debian Accounts Manager has been appointed (http://lists.debian.org/debian-project/2004/12/msg00277.html).
Sorry but the levels of commitment are greater than most marriages–it’s more social compromising than it’s worth.
In the event a package isn’t available in Sid I build my own local copy for x86.
This is about Debian’s developers/development, but is there’s a general guideline/documentation on how to develop/maintain a distro? I am curious about that.
You can just grab the source code and do whatever you want with it. This strikes me as a needless, elitist, meritocracy. Not that I won’t try to benefit from it, but even becoming a catholic isn’t that complicated these days.
elitist, meritocracy… probably, needless… I’m not sure
There is no real general guideline. There are some attempts of standardization of where certain files go, but the reason that there are 100s of various distros is because different people have different ideas of how a distro should be set up.
While Debian may be a elitist, meritocracy, no other distro can back up such a well thought out, cohesive, and long lived distro. The strict guidelines keeps it together. I only wish that they work on bringing a shorter timeline to stable releases.
Much in agreement with what Indech has mentioned. Take a step back and start to count the number of innovations (e.g. apt (its ability to do both binary installs and source compiles) + debconf, make kpkg; for the large numbers of repos and packages (hmmm what is it now some 18,500 packages in Sid?) and of course the ability to issue ‘apt-get build-dep foo && apt-get -b source foo’ to grab packages off mentors.debian – http://mentors.debian.net/, etc (this way and apt-getting packages from Unstable and Experimental (http://packages.debian.org/experimental/) keeps one permanently on the bleeding een haemorraghing edge of the open source)…
All in all, a distro motivated and managed not for crass commercialism, of crass commercialism or by crass commercialists but innovations, freedom and fun fostered and protected by a community of freedom lovers…:)
This method of recruitment may seem impressive. Nevertheless not the method but results count. We have to ask “Does Debian pick the best people available ?”
I am sure even a casual reader of Debian mailing lists can easily answer: “Not at all.” It’s logic. There is only certain kind of people able to withstand this handling, and those people are definitely not the best package maintainers. It is the reason Debian crowd of maintainers is currently unable to reach agreement on most basic things, new releases are delayed for years and most of the effort of contributing individuals gets wasted.
“Nevertheless not the method but results count.”
This is just empty rhetoric. It’s very easy for people to spell out what results they want – the difficulty is in actually *achieving* said goals.
“It is the reason Debian crowd of maintainers is currently unable to reach agreement on most basic things”
What’s your rationale here, out of interest? The Policy Manual (http://www.debian.org/doc/debian-policy/) is more comprehensive than any equivalent in any other distribution TTBOMK.
“most of the effort of contributing individuals gets wasted”
Could you elaborate?
That’s because a person becoming a Debian Developer actually affects a lot of people around the world, whereas nobody gives a rats arse about somebody becoming catholic.
> It’s a good article on the whole, but it fails to mention
> one of the most crucial privileges official developer
> status bestows – the ability to propose and vote on General
> Resolutions and Project Leader elections
Very nice! Can’t we apply that in real world politics as well? One must pass a political aptitude test, including the ‘philosophical’ part, in order to be allowed to vote. Are you sure this isn’t more than just meritocracy, say one party government?
What are you using as a basis for comparison? Which Linux distribution do you believe is *more* democratic? And what alternative system do you propose in order to decide which individuals should have voting rights?
I suppose you also hold that your native Finland is also undemocratic because only those possessing Finnish nationality are allowed to vote in its elections, as opposed to every human being on the entire planet?
You don’t get a vote in a general meeting of stockholders, if you don’t own stock.
Syntaxis, one crucial difference is that to become a Finnish citizen one doesn’t have to take a political aptitude tests.
AC from Tampere,
With some exceptions, you don’t become a Finnish citizen without living here for years first. Debian does not require its developer candidates to lurk on the lists for years. And for another point, consider that to be naturalized in the USA you need to have “attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution” and a “favorable disposition toward the United States” (quotes from http://uscis.gov/graphics/services/natz/ ). But the comparison to any country citizenship is really beside the point.
The Philosophies and Procedures portion of the New Maintainer process was instated because those philosophies are the only thing that provides unity for Debian. Aside from the fact that we are working on a Linux-based operating system (and lately also based on other kernels), there is little that binds us together except the Social Contract. When I joined Debian, I was asked to read the Social Contract, and eventually got a phone call from James Troup. He asked me whether I have read the Social Contract and whether I agree with it. I said yes and yes, and I was in. However, experience has shown that merely reading it and saying that one agrees with it does not guarantee that one understands it and the tradition that goes with it. Hence, P&P.