Ben Collin's Opening Speech

What I'd like to do here is basically overview how I see Debian's current status as a project and a group. Over the years the project has had increases in all areas, that are starting to show some of the faults in our structure. These are the things that need to be addressed in the coming years in order for us to remain the formidable Open Source force that we have been. Providing the most vast collection of software for the greatest range of architectures, is something we do best. There is no question of Debian's superior stability, and availability.

The key areas that we have seen problems are more administrative and collaboration. By collaboration, I mean the communication between groups, and by administration I mean the glue that bonds those groups and makes them cohesive and productive.

Right now we have a very "God" like control given to each and every maintainer. They decide what and where things happens to the packages under their control. We cannot change this. However, we do need to expand on it. We are starting to see development of many sub-projects under the Debian project. These projects, no matter how well defined, have no infrastructure in Debian's current workings. These groups are not even recognized in our constitution, nor our development model. I'd like to see these working groups leveraged. A structure of a basic group needs to be defined in our development model, with each group given the responsibility of defining specifics of it's development model. Each group should also have primary and secondary contacts so key officers of the project (the DPL, Release Manager, FTP Admins, etc...) have a single point of contact into the group for decision making. Even though each group should be recognized, I think there will be certain groups that can be denoted as persistent. These groups (such as boot floppies, arch porters, etc..) will be involved in regular public meetings with the DPL and other officers of the project to make sure everything is on track.

One of the other key areas that I think needs to be addressed is the process of accepting new members into the group. I do know that Dale Sheetz has been working on reopening New Maintainer. I commend his efforts and his diligence in getting this done. However this is only the first step to resolving some issues with new developers. I believe that we need more of an abstraction between "new" developers, and "long term" senior developers. What I'm suggesting is that new maintainers be given limitations when they first join (not so limiting that they cannot do the work that we accepted them to do). Limitations can include several things. First of all, not allowing them to do NMU's of other's packages. I think we see too many problems with new maintainers, even though they mean well, causing breakage in core packages. This limitation can be done in several ways, even allowing them to do NMU's _if_ their .changes is signed by a "senior" developer (very helpful in Bug Squashing fests). We will need criteria for when a developer becomes a "senior" developer (obviously all current developers will be considered "senior" if this is ever implemented, sort of a grandfather clause :).

Last, but not final on my agenda, is the visibility of Debian. Time and time again we see that not many people (outside the Open Source circle) really know who Debian is and what we are about. I think we really need a group of individuals who can get us more into the light. Obviously right now the press team fits this description, but I don't think we have really seen any initiative from them (I'm am not sure if this is their lack of interest, or the lack of a "charter" for what that group is supposed to do). We should also seek to further our self-sufficiency by making available CD's direct from us. We have many developers who are willing to do handle the effort. Give them some small amount of the cost in doing this, and take the profit to the bank for future costs (we really need to start buying our own hardware).

This is all for the time being, I'm really just getting off the ground with my initiatives, but I am very hopeful that I can eventually make a difference as your Project Leader.