Platform for Chris Lamb

My fellow developers,

It is an honour and a privilege simply to be a Debian Developer, let alone to have been chosen as their representative. I have thus been extremely proud and humbled to have served as your Project Leader throughout 2017.

Being the DPL is an extremely hard job. Indeed, it's even difficult to explain exactly how, any statistics somehow do not quite capture it. However, I am now beginning to understand the look in previous Leader's faces when congratulating me on my appointment. Future candidates should not take nominating themselves lightly.

That aside, I have learned a great deal during my term about both the inner workings of the Project (you would be surprised just how much work, inter alia, the Treasurer and Trademark team does behind the scenes) but also about myself. I have learned much and grown as a person throughout the year thanks to my new interactions and fresh experiences.

In lieu of listing concrete achievements, I have shown a dedication to many of the core values we all share. For example, I have dramatically increased Debian's commitment and involvement to our outreach initiatives in both concrete terms and by increasing their awareness. I have deepened inter-project communications with our downstream distributions and in larger upstream projects such as Gnome and KDE as well as quasi-orthogonal projects such as FreeBSD. I have taken great pride in representing you at conferences as well as in more nebulous terms through a variety of worthy causes from assisting in Dmitry Bogatov's release to the FSFE's Public Money? Public Code campaign. I have also been more of a "public face" on social media.

Furthermore, I have demonstrated I am a steady hand on philosophical questions of quality and our commitment to users' freedoms, as well as remaining — with some regrettable exceptions — level-headed, rational and objective. I hope I have managed to juggle the various "hats" I have as a regular Developer without conflict of interest too.

My belief in open and clear communications led me to post reliable monthly updates of how I have been representing you and the Project as a whole. There were times I would have preferred to reveal more but in the gift economy of free software I always erred on the side of not taking credit, revealing confidences or otherwise preempting more official announcements.

On the other hand, it is with some regret that a large amount of my effort and energy was consumed with mediating a significant number of complicated interpersonal and anti-harassment issues. I mention them here, not to moan or complain, but merely because these concerns, perforce, generate little-to-no external noise and are thus otherwise invisible.

More saliently, they cost a disproportionate amount of energy or "spoons" which — as they took myself and others away from furthering initiatives outlined in my platform — I was truly not convinced I would stand for re-election until very recently on a question of personal ethics. Indeed, I might not have done at all had it not been for some encouraging and deeply touching words from a number of close confidants. They stressed to me that a year, especially as the DPL, is not a long time. In some senses, they counselled, I should consider myself just getting started and only now prepared to start to take on the bigger changes.

Debian naturally faces some challenges but I sincerely believe that the Project remains as healthy as ever. We are remarkably cherished and uniquely poised to improve the free software ecosystem as a whole. Moreover, our stellar reputation for technical excellence, stability and software freedom remains highly respected where losing this would surely be the beginning of the end for Debian. Invariably, what we need to do is simply not get in the way of ourselves.

We could still do a far better job accommodating users unfamiliar with us. In these contexts, we stubbornly and short-sightedly elevate technical accuracy above all other concerns. By not demonstrating sufficient empathy for newcomers or those without our experience, we alienate potential users and contributors and tragically fail to communicate our true message. Again, we can be our own worst enemy.

But what would a second term actually look like? Beyond a few changes here and there, I trust it is not too hubristic to state I would not change much regarding my approach. However, if I were honoured by your re-nomination I would not only address the above concerns with greater élan, I would be more proactive in reaching out to teams prior to potential issues becoming genuine problems. Part of this requires mental space and thus optimising my workflow around the quotidien responsibilities as Leader would be essential in achieving this. I also will facilitate yet more real-life meetings; bug squashing parties, summits and sprints are more than socially rewarding but incredibly productive for the project.

I have been extremely proud to have served and represented you throughout 2017. The people that this has put me in contact with have been, almost without exception, truly excellent. I'd like to close by sincerely thanking everyone who had confidence in me and entreat them to extending this to a second term.


Who am I?

I'm a 32-year-old programmer from Cambridge, England. After working in the startup scene (including partaking in the Y Combinator seed accelerator) I become a freelancer and am relishing the opportunities this has afforded in contributing towards free software.

In Debian, whilst initially a Google Summer of Code student, I became an official Developer in September 2008. Since then, I have been an FTP Assistant, committer in the Debian Live, Debian Installer, Python, X.Org and JavaScript teams, in addition to a participant in QA efforts. More recently I've been active in the Reproducible Builds effort and have been contributing heavily to Lintian.

I maintain a number of packages, but also have written a fair amount Debian-specific software including AptFS, installation-birthday, debian-bts-applet & I was also the original author of the #debian-devel-changes IRC bot and the Debian Timeline. As part of my commitment to the Debian Long Term Support project I publish monthly report on what I have been working on within free software. I am also the maintainer of a large amount of non-Debian software.

When I'm not coding I'm a prolific reader and film-watcher as well as an amateur classical musician with a particular interest in early music.