Steve McIntyre's DPL platform, 2008


I've been a Debian Developer since October 1996. I originally joined to maintain the Debian version of mikmod; I was the upstream developer at the time, and wanted the Debian version to work well too. In those days, the NM process was rather simpler than today: I installed Debian, then two days later I mailed Bruce Perens with a PGP key and asked him for a Debian login. He responded almost immediately with account details - I was in!

Since that point, I've worked on quite a wide range of packages, some large and some small. Probably the most noticeable work I've done for Debian is within the debian-cd team, both developing the debian-cd software itself and using that same software to create the official CDs (and now DVDs) that accompany each Debian release. I've been involved with the CDs for almost every major and point release since Hamm.

I host two of our buildds (ball and toffee), and help with local admin work on two more (cats and grieg). I also keep my own little farm of machines covering the majority of our architectures. This helps me to debug problems in my own packages, and I give out accounts to other DDs as well where helpful.

I have been a candidate in the DPL election for both of the last two years, coming second in 2006 and 2007 by a small margin each time. In 2006, Anthony Towns invited me to take up a new delegated position of Debian "2IC", or Assistant Project Leader. I accepted, and that year helped him with some of the duties of the DPL: dealing with correspondence, talking to the press and representing Debian at various Free Software gatherings.


Much of this platform will be familiar to people, as it is largely based on what I said at this time last year and the year before. Most of the things I want to work on in Debian have not changed in that period: they are well known problems, issues that have affected us for a long time. The two main ones that I see are:

Communications within the project

This is a long-term bugbear; DPL candidates have been promising to work on improving communication within the project for as long as I can remember. There are several places where communication has been problematic in the past. Sometimes DPL effort has helped to fix things, but more often there has been no visible improvement.

Simple, regular status updates from the various teams within the project can help a great deal here. Equally, regular reports from the DPL are needed to make sure that the Debian community are aware of what is being said and done on their behalf. Even if some of these reports consist purely of "Sorry, I've been busy in real life and not accomplished much", simple confirmation that posts are not sitting unattended is better than nothing. I aim to encourage these updates, and if elected I will commit to distributing regular news from the DPL.

Finally, I'm convinced that the more we talk about what we're doing, the more motivated others will be to help us in our tasks. A vibrant, open, friendly project depends on the periodic introduction of fresh blood wanting to work with us. Let's make that easier!

Working effectively; asking for help

Continuing on from the previous point: another part of the DD's job is to work effectively, both on individual packages and within the project as a whole. This includes simple things like handling the bugs in our packages in a timely fashion, but also includes bigger things, such as considering the impact of changes on the release schedule. Working effectively is not just important for our own gratification; it also makes a major impact on how long we take to release and the experience our users have with using Debian.

In my opinion, a key part of working effectively is honesty. We can all suffer from a lack of time to do the jobs that we've promised to do. After all, real life has a nasty habit of intruding on our so-called "spare" time. So long as we don't let things delay too far, we can cope and still contribute. But at some point, we need to be more honest with ourselves and actually admit that we can't continue with the jobs that we've promised to do. It's a hard thing to do, but in a friendly community where we're all working together towards a common goal there should be no shame in asking for help.

In a larger scope, procedures exist for DDs to temporarily leave the project if real life has overtaken them, and re-join when the situation changes. Again, there is no shame in doing this - we should be happy to acknowledge all the contributions that people have made to Free Software when they could. But, still, many people don't take this route and instead simply become missing in action (MIA). It can take quite a while to pick up on DDs who have simply dropped out of the project.

How to fix these, aka "getting things done"

I want to see improvements made where they are clearly needed. There are cases where communications are lacking, or people and teams might not be working as effectively as they want to or need to. In those cases, I want to help and encourage the people involved to make those improvements. If that is not enough, then we may need stronger actions.

This goes for all of us, both as individuals and as a project. Sometimes it can be all too easy to let nay-sayers slow us down or discourage us from working on the projects that interest us. If people are not contributing, ask them to help. If they don't want to help, then ignore them and find others who will. Let's keep Debian what it should be - a great, thriving community of people having fun by working together on our shared goals.

Why vote for me?

I believe I can do a good job as DPL due to the following qualities:


I've been a developer within Debian for over eleven years. I've done large amounts of packaging work, I've seen Debian evolve a great deal in that time, and I've been involved in lots of different discussions. My time working as 2IC means I already have a good insight into what the DPL job entails, and I'm happy I can do it.


Besides packaging, I've done a lot of promotional work for Debian. I've organised Debian stands at lots of shows and expos over the years. I've been an admin and a mentor for Debian in the Google Summer of Code for two years running and hopefully for a third: fingers crossed! I ran the sponsorship team for Debconf 7 (and am doing so again for Debconf 8), meaning I've been actively going out and talking with a variety of companies and other organisations, promoting Debian and asking them to support us publically. All of these help raise awareness of Debian and its goals.

I've had a fair experience at "cat-herding" so far, including arranging travel for groups to Debconf, FOSDEM and other events. I'm currently the treasurer of the Debian UK Society, and I run the debian-uk mailing list.


I'm a programmer, which means I have strong opinions on many subjects. (*grin*). Despite that, I believe I am honest, generally approachable and easy to work with. I am a good communicator and negotiator, and I have made many friends in the Debian and wider Free Software Community over the years.


I have touched on some issues here that are hopefully not surprising to most of our community. I must also acknowledge the fact that the DPL mostly does not have the power to simply impose changes as he/she sees fit. The best that the DPL can do here is to encourage us to improve, sometimes by discussion and debate and sometimes by leading by example. I don't claim to be perfect, but I believe I can help us to achieve some of the goals I have listed here.

Thanks for your time in reading my platform, and I hope you will support me in my goals.


Again, I believe this year we have a selection of good candidates. Despite having many fewer people standing in the election than in recent years, we have possibly some of the best options ever. I'd like to be DPL (obviously, otherwise I wouldn't be standing!) but I'd also be happy enough to see any competent person elected. I'm not going to engage in silly arguing with the other two candidates, but here are my thoughts on them and their platforms:

Raphaël has a good history of contributing to Debian, in lots of areas (alioth, debian-cd, dpkg, etc.) He is (again!) pushing for a DPL team to do the job. I think that could be a workable idea, but I'm not 100% convinced it's the best plan. Instead, I'd be more keen to see the DPL delegate jobs as they're needed to people with appropriate expertise rather than name a small team up-front. Beyond that, I think his ideas for projects that the DPL could help with are all sound. If elected, I'd be happy to work with him on them where possible.

Marc is another well-known and well-respected Debian developer, currently working effectively as a part of our release team. He may not have been around in the project as long as Raphaël and I, but has seen and done enough to have a good feel for how Debian works (and, indeed, the places where it could work better). His list of improvements that he'd like to make all seem reasonable and good things to do, but I don't see any really major items here.