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Motivation

Colour me naïve, but I disagree that Debian is facing a crisis caused by dunc-tank.org.

First of all, stuff like this has been going on for years, and I've been personally involved in cases where money was given to developers to work on specific aspects of Debian, though it's always been up to the receiver whether to announce it or not. I hope this does not come as a surprise to you.

Second, there are two issues: funding developers, and our DPL engaged in the process in a way that's not obviously independent from Debian to everyone. I think the heated debate around the latter is a mere function of the emotional issues related to the former, so I'll only concentrate on the funding aspect.

When people like Joey loudly protest about where the fun has gone, I start to wonder (again) about motivation.

Everyone of us who contributes to Debian does so because of some kind of motivation, whatever it may be. In my case, that motivation is technical excellence: Debian is in a position to avoid hacks and do things right, and it's a joy to be part of a community that seems to think alike, that likes to be perfectionist, pedantic, clean, academic, advanced, you name it. I am also mighty proud of Debian, of what we've achieved, of what we are. Lastly, Debian powers every single computer I administer (and the number would be far lower if it wasn't for Debian), and our operating system is how I earn my living.

To me, the issue of funding developers is tangential to the development of Debian. Why should it matter that s/he gets paid by the project and I don't? I'm still doing the same work as before, and I am still doing it for the same reasons. Note that we're talking about well-defined, limited use of funds, not employment contracts.

When people say that "money corrupts", I think they're taking the easy way out. Money doesn't corrupt, people corrupt in the presence of money. I'll go out on a limb and claim that a person affected by an allergy will probably rather cure the allergy than to avoid the things to which s/he's allergic. Go figure.

Even though I've never really cared much for stable releases, I can understand many of our users when they ask us to get along and release "etch", and I really doubt we can do it in time just chugging along like we've been doing it in the past. Of course, Debian is all about "releasing when it's ready", and we don't know yet whether paid release managers are going to enable us to release on time and when it's ready, but isn't it worth a try?

I was also opposed to the idea of paying our release managers when it first came up. However, I've managed to change perspective and am now supportive of it: we are not hiring them, they will not be Debian employees; we are raising funds for them to be able to dedicate their full time to the final, tiresome stretch just before a release, without existential worries. We are helping them to move our project along. Especially since our release team has been one of the more open teams in Debian, being quick to respond to questions and training others in the Art of Releasing Debian, I feel rather good about this particular, well-defined and limited use of our funds.

All other things aside, here are my top three reasons why (I think) we really want to release "etch" on 4 December 2006, in increasing order:

If it weren't for the last one... :)

NP: Kammerflimmer Kollektief / Cicadidae