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(deferred) bits from the DPL: March 2012

Dear project members, here is my monthly DPL activity report, this time for last March. It is delayed by a couple of weeks because, myself being both incumbent and
candidate DPL, I preferred not to use d-d-a during the voting period unless really needed. Apologies for the delay (or the unneeded paranoia, you name it).

As a side effect of the delay, the results of the DPL election are now
known. I’d like to thank all the people who took part in the elections:
voters, people who asked questions on -vote, the secretary, and
obviously Gergely and Wouter, without whom the campaign wouldn’t have
allowed to discuss relevant aspects of Debian “politics”.

Thanks for your trust. I’ll do my best to match your expectations.

… and just to remind you what you’ve just asked for, here goes the

Highlight: long-term hardware replacement planning

The highlight for this month is long term planning of hardware
replacement. It’s something I’ve been discussing with DSA for quite a
while and on which DSA has worked hard during the recent sprint [1]. As
a result, we now have a quite ambitious 5-year hardware replacement plan
that will guarantee that all machines in production are under warranty
at any given time (with the nice side effect of generally better
performances, as they go hand in hand with newer hardware).


The current estimated cost per year is 29’000 USD. That does not yet
include buildds and porter-boxes, so it is expected to increase a bit to
cover all our hardware needs. But we expect it not increase too much, as
we tend to get explicit hardware donations to cover arch-specific needs.

Given the current state of Debian finances and donation trends, the plan
*looks* sustainable for at least 2-3 years. But this assessment still
needs to be refined as soon as, together with the auditors, we’ll manage
to obtain the history of past Debian transactions, in particular from
SPI. We’ve been waiting for this for about 5 months now, but I’m
positive it could become a reality in the next weeks. In the meantime,
it is surely safe to start with the plan for the next 1-1.5 years, so
I’ll give green light to DSA for the first acquisitions as soon as
they’re ready for it.

When implemented, this plan will increase our ability to rely on
hardware. But it also means we will need to become a bit more organized
about fund-raising. The discussion started with [1] has some insights
about how to do that. As part of this, we’ll also need to share
resources (e.g. contact databases, people, etc.) among the yearly
DebConf fund-raising initiatives and the initiatives mentioned in the
aforementioned discussion.

Ongoing discussions

– A couple of important clarifications on how to deal with
trademark-encumbered software in the Debian archive have been posted
to -project starting at [2]. It seems to me there might be consensus
on the overall topic, but we need to write down guidelines for
maintainers (and possibly a project position statement?). I could use
some help on that front, so if you’ve followed the discussion and/or
have an interest in trademark and free software, please get in touch.


– To put an end to the long and glorious life of DEP-5 [3], I’ve marked
it as ACCEPTED given that it has been “implemented” in February via
inclusion in the debian-policy package. You still have some time to
port your debian/copyright-s to it before the Wheezy freeze.


– I’ve been contacted by the DuckDuckGo about a revenue sharing
agreement for the inbound traffic they already get from Debian
browsers. I’ve informed -project proposing to accept it [4] and that
has spawned a discussion that has won us an LWN article [5]. I haven’t
yet summarized the thread proposing a way forward; I’ll do so shortly.


– as part of a discussion on unofficial “debian” repositories [9], I’ve
proposed to open up the list of * domains. As nobody
disagreed, consensus has been quickly reached and the announced [10]
change is now imminent. Thanks to Carsten Hey and Gerfried Fuchs for
their help in figuring out the details of the last discussion on the
matter and DSA for their feedback.


Summer of Code

Debian has been accepted as an organization for the Google Summer of
Code [11]. At the time these bits go out, the student application
deadline has also elapsed. In March I’ve contributed a few project ideas
and chased potential mentors for them, when I thought the project could
be important for Debian and the prospective student. I’m happy that one
[12] (a dak building block needed for the implementation of PPAs and
more) has found both mentors and students. We’ll see if any of the
corresponding student proposal is retained and how it goes.



I’ve given an interview, about Debian and Free Software in general, to
La Repubblica [6], one of the major newspapers in Italy. The interview
is available online [7,8], but only in Italian. If some kind (and
Italian-speaking) soul would like to translate it into English, I’ll be
happy to publish the translation as well.


Legal stuff

In order to transfer ownership of the Debian trademark in Japan to SPI,
I’ve contacted the current owners (all Japanese Debian Developers or
contributors) to do the needed paperwork. I’ve been blessed by the help
of Kenshi Muto that has taken the matter in his hands. He is now
navigating through Japanese trademark procedures, a subject neither
myself nor SPI lawyers were familiar with. Thanks also to Jonathan
McDowell who has done the needed paperwork, SPI-side.


Plenty of sprints and sprint reports in March!: Debian Med [13], DSA
[14], DAM/FrontDesk [15]. Everything should also be available from where you can find info to organize your
team sprint.


Assets miscellanea

– I’ve signed the annual memorandum of understanding with the financial
entity that will help us with local expenditures for DebConf12 in
Nicaragua. This year is ISIC, with whom we have an important trust
path via Norman Garcia Aguilar, member of the DebConf orga team.

– After discussion with auditors, we’ve resolved to set a 1 year
deadline for reimbursement requests [16]. The reason is that it’s a
PITA to keep track of longer-running requests (yes, they do happen!)
and they add uncertainty to our available finances. There can be
exceptions, but please help on this front by timely requesting
reimbursements after travels or other expenses.



PS the boring day-to-day activity log for March is available at

— Stefano Zacchiroli zack@{,,} . o .

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