RSS feed available in the Debian Maintainer Dashboard

One of my pet projects in Debian is the Debian Maintainer Dashboard. Built on top of UDD, DMD provides a maintainer-centric view to answer the “I have a few hours for Debian, what should I do now?” question (see example).

Christophe Siraut did a lot of great work recently on DMD, rewriting much of the internals. As a result, he also added a RSS feed feature: you can now get notified of new TODO list items by subscribing to that feed.

If you have suggestions or comments, please use the debian-qa@ list (see this thread).

Thanks, Christophe!

talk at Open World Forum

I attended Open World Forum last week (thanks to Inria for funding my travel). It was a fantastic opportunity to meet many people, and to watch great talks. If I had to single out just one talk, it would clearly be John Sullivan’s What do you mean you can’t Skype?!.

On Saturday, I delivered a talk presenting the Debian project. It was my first DPL-ish talk to the general public, so it still needs some tuning, but I think it went quite well (slides available). Next opportunity to talk about Debian: LORIA, Nancy, France, 2013-10-17 13:30 (iPAC seminar).

Software for brainstorm / ideas sharing and voting?

Some time ago, Ubuntu had Ubuntu Brainstorm, a website where non-developers could submit ideas of improvements, and other people could comment and vote on them. I was wondering if there was existing software to deploy a similar service, e.g. as a plugin to popular forum software. I’ve found, but relying on the Cloud for that is not acceptable for my planned use.

(For clarification: my immediate interest for that is unrelated to Debian work)

DebConf was fantastic (not just the view)

So, I’m back from DebConf, which probably translated to the 10 busiest days of my life, but also to one of the best times of my life. The Le Camp venue clearly contributed to this success: having everybody at the same place, but at the same time many opportunities for quiet chat or just enjoying the view, was really a good idea. Everybody who made DebConf possible deserve a huge “thank you”, as well as all attendees: it is really a honor to be a part of such a fantastic community.

Now, let’s go back to daily life, and to my re-filled Debian TODO list!

Debian birthday

This upload was the first one of my very first package in Debian. It was sponsored by Dafydd Harries, who I’ve finally met at DebConf13, and got out of NEW on 2005-08-16. Exactly 8 years ago today. I only realized that yesterday evening, and Debian’s birthday feels even more special to me now. Dafydd, it looks like I owe you a lot! :)


This DebConf is obviously quite special for me, being the DPL. It has really been great so far to talk to meet so many people, and especially to meet so many new Debian contributors or Developers. I’m really happy to see that the next generation is ready! :)

On Sunday, I delivered my Bits from the DPL talk. The video is available, and I’ve finally uploaded the slides (working link here, it seems that Penta ate my slides). I hope you enjoyed it/will enjoy it!

Debian releases used by popcon participants

The graph below is generated from popcon submissions. Since they include the version of the popularity-contest package, one can determine the Debian release that was used by the submitter (a new version of the popularity-contest package is generally uploaded just after the release to make that tracking possible).

The graph is similar to the one found on popcon, except that versions newer than the latest stable release are aggregated as “testing/unstable”.


  • Popcon submitters might not be representative of Debian users, of course.
  • There’s quite a lot of testing/unstable users, and their proportion is quite stable:
    • Today: testing/unstable: 43119 submissions (31.4%); squeeze: 75454 (54.9%); lenny: 13603 (9.9%)
    • 2011-02-04 (just before the squeeze release): testing/unstable: 29012 (29.7%); lenny: 57262 (58.6%); etch: 10032 (10.3%)
    • 2009-02-13 (just before the lenny release): testing/unstable: 30108 (36.9%); etch: 49996 (61.2%)
  • I don’t understand why the number of Debian stable installations does not increase, except when a new release is made. It’s as if people installed Debian, upgraded directly to testing, and switched back to tracking stable after the release. Or maybe people don’t update their systems? A more detailed analysis could be done by looking at the raw popcon data.
  • Upgrading to the next stable release takes time. Looking at the proportion of users still using oldstable one year after the release, it would be better not to remove oldstable from mirrors too early.

Scripts are available on

Ideas from the -vote@ DPL election discussions

After one week of campaign on -vote@, many subjects have been mentioned already. I’m trying here to list the concrete, actionable ideas I found interesting (does not necessarily mean that I agree with all of them) and that may be worth further discussion at a less busy time. There’s obviously some amount of subjectivity in such a list, and I’m also slightly biased ;) . Feel free to point to missing ideas or references (when an idea appeared in several emails, I’ve generally tried to use the first reference).

On the campaign itself, and having general discussions inside Debian:

  • have those discussions on a more regular basis, outside DPL elections (from lucas)
  • use polls to measure consensus (from lucas, question from mjr)
  • use a pre-arranged questionnaire that DPL candidates would fill in (from algernon)

On getting new users and contributors to Debian:

  • discussion on the various steps: Debian user – first contribution – regular contributor – DM/DD (from lucas)
  • maintain a single list of “paths in” (from moray and lucas)
  • have some “neutral” people to ask about tasks, and to get suggestions from in response to explaining their current skills and experience (e.g. (from moray)
  • more local meetings, compile list of regional contacts (moray)
  • increase Debian presence at local meetings. Advertise the Debian Events initiative that facilitates that (from lucas)
  • provide “Debian ambassador” title for students, similar to what is done by Google or Microsoft (from moray)
  • re-work on advertising gift tags (bugs suitable for new contributors) (from lucas)
  • make sure teams have list of easy tasks in their wiki pages (from lucas)
  • discussion on student projects involving Debian (from lucas)
  • do mentoring inside teams, like DebianMed’s MoM (from moray)
  • participate in other internship-like programs, like Outreach Program for Women (link from lucas), or organize our own, which would also avoid some restrictions from GSoC (northern hemisphere only (point made by moray), restricted to students (ana))
  • extend internship-like programs to other kinds of work (packaging, documentation, etc.)
  • localize -mentors@ (mailing lists + IRC channels for DE, FR, ES contributors) (from lucas)
  • organize IRC schools/seminars about e.g. packaging (from lucas)
  • introduce more gamification in mentoring (from rra)

Infrastructure, processes, releases:

  • improve infrastructure to help with team maintenance (e.g. PET) (from lucas)
  • authorize NMUs for archive-wide changeovers such as /usr/doc -> /usr/share/doc  (from moray)
  • increase visibility of RC bugs squashers by listing them in Debian Project News (from lucas)
  • provide inexpensive non-monetary gifts (free t-shirts?) to RC bug squashers (from lucas)
  • re-open discussion on gradual freezes (from lucas), focus attention on more important packages by improving tools (from lucas) and removing packages earlier (from moray and lucas)
  • involve upstreams and downstreams in RC bug fixing (from algernon)

Relationships with upstreams/downstreams:

  • use Debian money to sponsor maintainers to attend upstream events (from lucas)

This list could be moved to wiki.d.o if others find sufficiently useful to help maintaining it.

Debian is (still) changing

(Looking for those graphs online, I realized that I never properly published them, besides that old post)

I’ve been playing with snapshot.d.o, which is a fantastic resource if you want to look at Debian from an historical perspective (well, since 2005 at least).

Team maintenance

We now have more team-maintained packages than packages maintained by someone alone. Interestingly, the “small, ad-hoc group of developers” model does not really take off.

Maintenance using a VCS


A large majority of our packages are maintained in a VCS repository, with Git being the clear winner now.

Possible goal for Jessie: standardize on a Git workflow, since every team tends to design its own?

Packaging helpers


Again, we have a clear winner here, with dh. It’s interesting to note that, while dh was designed as a CDBS killer, it kind-of fails in that role.

Possible goal for Jessie: deprecate at least pure-debhelper packaging?

Patch systems and packaging formats


Again, clear winner with 3.0 (quilt).

The (dirty) scripts that generate those graphs are available in Git (but you need to connect to stabile to execute them, and it’s rather time consuming — hours/days).

DPL game

When Francesca started her DPL game, I too started think about possible candidates. Here is my shortlist of dream candidates:

  • <insert your name here>
  • <or here>
  • <or there>
  • <or even there>

Seriously, if you are a DD, you have the right to run. There’s no need for someone to nominate you. If you think that you could possibly say something interesting during the discussion period, and can spare the time to participate in the -vote@ discussions, please run. DPL campaigns used to be a great time where Debian visions, goals, politics and random stuff were discussed. The more candidates, the more interesting campaigns (8 candidates in 2007!).

Also, there are already two three other candidates, so even if you don’t want the job, it’s not that risky.

(Initially, I thought about nominating everyone, but security-wise, it might not be such a great idea.)