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Debian discord over de-classified developer proposal

Elite in charge?

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Members of the Debian community are up in arms following a surprise announcement over the way project participants are vetted and organized.

The announcement, posted by Debian developer and administrator Joerg Jaspert, proposed - among other things - that a new class of non-technical Debian contributor be introduced. This person would have a lower status than full Debian developers and have limited access to project resources.

Several senior Debian developers responded quickly with accusations the project organization was being hi-jacked by a self-appointed elite that was making backroom decisions without reference to the wider community.

Joey Hess, who works with Jaspert on the Debian Maintainers team, described the announcement as "atrocious" and dismissed the assertion that changes would not "take anything away from" developers as "The Big Lie".

More constructively Lucas Nussbaum, another Debian developer, said while Debian needed more "non-developing" contributors, there were other less-contentious ways to do this.

Debian is continually plagued with problems over recruiting and the status of new contributors. Earlier this year Nussbaum and others raised the issue of the time it took to approve new contributors to Debian, and incoming project leader Steve McIntyre moved quickly to put this right.

McIntyre told The Reg Jaspert's proposal had polarized opinions but he considered it more important to get Lenny - the next version of Debian - finished before taking time to solve this particular problem. McIntyre noted the qualifications and rights associated with being a Debian developer are "very important to many of our developers".

"After Lenny we'll be thrashing out the exact details of whatever changes we want to make. There'll be a project-wide vote on the final proposals to make sure that we're happy with them, but that may take some time yet," he said. "We'll probably get to talk about them more then."®

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