Stefano Zacchiroli (Debian Leader): Local communities are important

[ Tuesday, 18 May 2010, michuk ]


Stefano Zacchiroli, a new Debian Project Leader, in an interview with Polish Debian Portal speaks about this year’s campaign, realase policy of the project, the Debian GNU/kFreeBSD port and other non-linux ports, and the role of local Debian communities.

Thanks to azhag, we’re happy to publish the interview for you!

Stefano Zacchiroli’s term began on April 17. During last month he has already appoint several delegates, took part — as th DPL — in several discussions, and gave a talk in UDS conference about Debian-Ubuntu relationship.

He took some time out to speak to us about some aspects of Debian.

First of all: congratulation on being elected. Was it a hard campaign? How was it different from last year’s?

Thanks, I feel honored of the result. I’m not really able to judge whether it has been “hard” or not: the most interesting part of DPL campaigning is not really the challenge, but rather that it is the moment where the Debian project discusses of its “politics”, something which rarely happen in other occasions. For sure, by comparison with last year, I can tell that it has been a very intense campaign, as the volume of discussed topics shows.

In rebuttals you wrote that you like some of the opponents ideas. Do you plan to realize some of them, or let your opponents to realize them by themselves?

Sure, I’ve no preconceptions on others’ ideas, and I’d generally love to see implemented all ideas that can improve Debian, no matter who advances them. Regarding who is going to implement them, well, that doesn’t really matter and in my first “bits from the DPL” I’ve already made quite clear that anyone who needs some kind of “DPL blessing” to implement an idea can come to me. The DPL role is mainly about coordination and communication, the real hard work get done by all developers which decide to take responsibility on their shoulders.

During last DebConf Debian accepted a new release policy (actually, a freeze policy, but this leads to releases). Do you think it’s a good policy?

No, not really. That idea was presented during the Release Team talk and then retracted a few days after due to the disruptive effect that a very short development cycle would have add on many of our teams.

That said, all choices about release cycles belong mostly to the Release Team, which should discuss them with the rest of the project. Personally, I don’t see Debian going to a time-based release policy anytime soon, as we very much like to “release when it’s ready”; a value that other users appreciate to.

On the other hand, I find the idea of time-based freezes quite interesting: it enables teams to plan more accurately their development initiatives for a given release, without trading off our “when it’s ready” mantra. Again, that ought to be discussed at large in the project, though, and it should better be postponed after the release of Squeeze.

Debian GNU/kFreeBSD is a release architecture in Squeeze. What do you think about non-Linux ports of Debian? Are they just whims and waste of time and resources, or actually valuable projects?

I think they are very valuable projects. In general, Debian is one of the free software distribution with the largest number of ports (at least for what concerns Linux) and that makes of us a very valuable platform for both upstreams which care about portability and for users of non mainstream *NIX platforms.

The addition of any new port is something that increases our value and I’m particularly proud at the idea of having a non-Linux port in the next Debian stable release. Kudos goes to the kFreeBSD Debian porters and to all developers which have worked towards that goal!

Do you have any “bits from the DPL” to ordinary Debian users, especially those from Poland?

In particular for Poland, I’d like to thank the country for all the valuable Debian Developers and contributors which it has “given” to Debian. I really believe in local communities as the key place to attract new users and to teach them how cool is participating and getting involved in Debian. Keep up the good work, and remember that Debian will continue only if we will manage to explain to more and more people our values and have them join us!

Thank you very much. Wish you a fruitful term.


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