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Dunc-Tank To Help Meet Debian Etch Deadline 89

Posted by kdawson
from the pay-me-now-or-pay-me-later dept.
Da Massive writes, "Debian GNU/Linux is experimenting with a new project called Dunc-Tank, which is aimed at securing funding to pay two key release managers — Steve Langasek and Andi Barth — in an effort to ensure the forthcoming Debian 4.0, known as etch, is released on time in December." Dunc-Tank is not affiliated with the Debian Project directly, and in fact was controversial on the debian-private list.
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Dunc-Tank To Help Meet Debian Etch Deadline

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  • One way... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DreddUK (255582)
    ... to do it. Can't get on the site at the mo'. Seems to have died for some reason ;) Anyone got a mirror of it?

    Couldn't they ask for donations as well? I remember on of the other distro's doing this (was it Mandrake?).
  • This is what I got (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @07:50AM (#16144890)
    The connection appeared to hang waiting for the stylesheet, so this was only viewable by viewing the HTML source. Obviously relative links are all busted.
    What is Dunc?

    Basically, Dunc is an experimental project to try out ways of funding Debian development. Not paying for servers or bandwidth, or reimbursing expenses and flight costs, but actually paying people to sit down and do useful Debian work rather than some other day job.

    Who is Dunc?

    There's info about who exactly is behind Dunc at the board [slashdot.org] page.

    Dunc directly supports work on Debian, and is made up of a small group of people who use Debian and who want to see Debian improve. But Dunc is not endorsed by Debian, and Debian does not exercise any control over how Dunc operates.

    What about other people funding Debian work?

    A number of other groups fund Debian work directly or indirectly, whether that be by allowing or encouraging their employees to contribute to Debian, or having Debian work be part of their actual job description. Dunc does not aim to compete with those groups, either in the tasks being worked on, or in the people being recruited, but rather to address other niches in the Debian ecosystem.

    What does "Dunc" mean?

    Dunc is an acronym standing for "Development Under Numismatic Control" -- which could equally be called "coin-operated coding". The point of the project is to try some new possibilities of funding free and open source software development and helping people work on free software development on a full-time basis.

    Really, though, the name is a reference to the linux.conf.au [linux.conf.au] auction in 2003, for the t-shirt signed by the speakers, proceeds from which were directed to Electronic Frontiers Australia [efa.org.au]. To make the bidding more lively a certain individual foolishly suggested that the next Debian release would be named after the winning bidder, should the bidding go above $2000. Due to the combined resources of a table of inebriated Sun folks, Duncan Bennet won the bidding, and the right to have his name associated with the next Debian release -- which, many years later, turns out to be Debian 4.0, aka etch. So yes, this is yet another free software project that has its roots in the consumption of a little too much wine at a conference dinner.

    What will the future bring?

    As Dunc is an experiment, we don't know what will end up happening with it. We may decide it works perfectly as is, or that it was a horrible idea that should never have been tried. In any event, we expect to review what worked, what didn't, and what should be done over the course of the first project, and have a public discussion about what to do after the release of etch.

    Random factoid

    This site is maintained using Joey Hess's ikiwiki [kitenet.net].

    It is licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License, version 2.

    Links: index [slashdot.org]
    Last edited Tue Sep 19 13:20:35 2006
    • How does it work? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kadin2048 (468275)
      I RTFAed, but I still don't understand exactly how the program is going to work, where the money is going to come from, or what the controversy is about.

      They call it "coin operated coding," but are they going to let users choose what work their money gets used to fund? So if I want, say, better window transparency, then I can donate $20 and he'll spend 15 or 30 minutes working on that someday? Or is it just the electronic version of one of those "money thermometers" that everyone's seen in front of their lo
      • by xoundmind (932373)
        One way it might work: Mark Shuttleworth opens his pockets and sets up a small endowment to fund Debian release engineers.
        He can certainly afford it and it would be a double payback. And very smart if he intends to have Canonical make money on the back of Debian.
      • by David Greene (463)

        They call it "coin operated coding," but are they going to let users choose what work their money gets used to fund? So if I want, say, better window transparency, then I can donate $20 and he'll spend 15 or 30 minutes working on that someday?

        I don't know if Dunc-Tank will work that way, but GNU Lilypond [lilypond.org] works that way. Users write up proposals with specs and submit them to the developers, who decide on the appropriate charge for the work. Users have been known to pool resources to get some pretty ama

  • If you're going to attempt something like this, you might as well do it with a project named after a carnival game.
  • by lemur3 (997863) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @07:59AM (#16144925)
    I am sure paying these folk will get this Debian release out on time. Money always motivates people to work harder and faster.. and it always makes sure a deadline will be met...
    • Re:Vista anyone? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nurhussein (864532) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @10:04AM (#16145597) Homepage
      Oh but think about it, if Etch gets released before Vista, Debian (the distro infamous for glacially slow release cycles) will have released three times between the last 2 versions of desktop Windows.

      So to all the "Linux sucks on the desktop, Windows pwns all" naysayers, even the slowest-releasing distro is improving at a rate faster than Windows. Say what you like about desktop Linux now, but it's one hell of a fast moving target, and it's only getting better.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CrankyFool (680025)
        No, it's releasing at a rate faster than Windows. There's a difference. release == improvement is a Microsoft fallacy, and using it subjects you to their licensing terms.
        • by Kjella (173770)
          No, it's releasing at a rate faster than Windows. There's a difference. release == improvement is a Microsoft fallacy, and using it subjects you to their licensing terms.

          You just have got to love how slashdot can spin anything to be Microsoft's fault. Release == improvement is a Mircosoft fallacy, from a company that hasn't had a major OS relase since 2001 and an Office release since 2003? I don't think so. What about the community where distros are often releasing at least once every six months, and where
      • Dude, but even the latest release of Debian cannot be fairly considered a desktop operating system for the masses. I would figure that Linux desktop has not even reached Windows XP in terms of usability. I run WinXP SP2 with all the updates and I have to say that it's: stable, simpler to use in terms of installing software and hardware, simpler to configure, a more consistent GUI, and better-supported in terms of software. I run ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite, Firefox and run my system behind a cheap SPI
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      You got it wrong. It's not about greed for money becoming a motivator in developing Debian, it's about enabling some release managers to take a holiday from their day jobs and to concentrate full-time on making sure that Etch gets released according to the schedule.

      I think this is a good idea. Volunteer developers don't always have enough time for their GNU/Linux work no matter how motivated they are.

  • Pssst (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    is Mark Shuttleworth slipping in a few $$$ here?
  • ready for a dunking [lwn.net]

    third picture down

    sorry bdale :)
  • But in reading through the "fine" article, I still don't know what the hell "dunc tank" is. (Other than funding for Debian projects.) Anyone care to explain ..?
  • So what is it? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jdavidb (449077) * on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @09:01AM (#16145239) Homepage Journal

    After reading the slashdot writeup and the linked page, I still don't know what they're doing. I know they're trying something new for funding, and I know how it got its name, but I still don't know what new thing it is they're trying. If it was in there, it got buried under a mass of other less important details.

    I think it means they are going to raise some funds (how?) to pay some developers directly to work exclusively for some time on Etch. But if so, that's not exactly innovative; other projects have done so before (Perl foundation grants, as one of many examples), and I'm surprised Debian hasn't.

  • oh oh... (Score:3, Funny)

    by advocate_one (662832) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @09:05AM (#16145264)
    Towns said a new version of X is expected to be included in unstable in the next day or two, which should allow Debian to support some of the compositing techniques that provide similar features to Mac OS X's "Expose".

    haven't they frozen the features of Etch yet??? It's awfully short now to December...

    • by krmt (91422)
      The X featureset is pretty close to frozen actually. Xorg 7.2 will release far too close to the Etch release to actually make it in, so 7.1+updates is what will ship with Etch. The only features for X that are still being considered are related to what the article mentioned (XGL, AIGLX, and compiz).
  • by asv108 (141455) <[gro.oiduatahp] [ta] [xela]> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @09:54AM (#16145546) Homepage Journal
    I realize that its common for developers to write barebones HTML 1.0 compliant web pages, but if your asking people for money, you need something that looks a little better than this.. [dunc-tank.org]

    If your going to ask for money on a website, have it so people have 1-2 clicks to contribute.. Even if its pledges, have it so the pledges are processed when the project is approved.. Right now they are essentially turning away thousands in contributions, especially with this type of publicity.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by krunk7 (748055)

      This site (Dunc Tank [dunc-tank.org]) has to be the downright worst attempt at fund raising I've ever seen in my life.

      The ironic thing is, it's representative of far too many open source documentation projects. Not that anyone in their right mind would think you need documentation for a monatary contribution. Seriously, people don't give a crap abotu wading through a few pages of latex2html just to kick $5 (or $100 for that matter) to a decent project only to find out they need to email some guy and pledge the doe.

      Here'

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by swillden (191260)

        Seriously, people don't give a crap abotu wading through a few pages of latex2html just to kick $5 (or $100 for that matter) to a decent project only to find out they need to email some guy and pledge the doe.

        It's quite clear you didn't really look at the site. I looked at the home page, clicked the "contribute" link and then found, first sentence of first paragraph:

        Dunc is currently waiting on a decision by the SPI board as to whether it will be accepted as an SPI project and donations may be made vi

    • I realize that its common for developers to write barebones HTML 1.0 compliant web pages, but if your asking people for money, you need something that looks a little better than this.

      HTML 1.0 has nothing to do with it. It's just a poor site design.

  • Uhm, no? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by abrotman (323016) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @10:00AM (#16145585)
    I've been using Debian for quite some time, and to me the point of Debian is stability. I couldn't give a rat's ass when etch releases as long as it works the way Debian is meant to. Please don't force the release to meet a deadline. You'll only be hurting the users that depend on Debian to be a stable and functional system.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DjReagan (143826)
      Well, if you'd checked out the site, you'd have see on the project page [dunc-tank.org] that it states as one of the criteria:
      • Must meet Debian's usual standard of releasing "when it's ready"
  • by mpapet (761907) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @12:09PM (#16146625) Homepage
    and it lives up to the Debian standard of reliable running, even in testing.

    They've got a nice fully functioning gui net installer for etch that worked perfectly for me on a Dell 2300 server with raided SCSI drives. I did a basic LAMP+desktop install. They changed the default sshd install to use keys. (as in public key in ~/.ssh/known_hosts file) Excellent! I'm looking forward to finding more of my usual security tweeks configured as default.

    It's testing, so the usual security warnings apply.

    I think that there may be a little more sense of urgency at the Debian project with some legitimate competition from deep-pockets Shuttleworth. My etch install suggests they are responding with better product and new ideas to accelerate the development pace.

    Install it today! http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/ [debian.org]
  • People are CHEAP (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drwho (4190) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @12:17PM (#16146691) Homepage Journal
    If this works, it's a great idea.

    I've been been bankrupted by my involvement with a free municipal wifi project. For the better part of a year, I've been plugging away at developement, installation, and worst of all, attending endless meetings. The problem is that once you give the consumer (the public, the city, whomever) some free work, and talk about how you really like the open source movement, they think you'll do everything for free. They think that money just grows on trees for you, or that you are living in your parents' basement and content with it. Well, it doesn't work that way. Sure, I put in time and money towards seeing a worthy project get off the ground, but I am not going to carry the whole burden all the way to the projects completion. There needs to be some fundraising, and most especially, a system of paying for specific problems to be worked on.

    I've basically dropped all work on the muni wifi project, but there's an effort on to find the next sucker to do some work on it. I doubt it's going to happen - the deadlines are long since missed, and they can't even get volunteers to update and freshen the web page. Cognitive dissonance at work here.

    I really hope DUNC-TANK can reach the folks who realize that while there are many contributors, you need a few talented, full-time people to meet deadlines by coordinating efforts and delegating work. These people have real lives, and need to be paid.

  • Fine balancing act, I guess. Debian has to commit to quality because without that it is nothing - there would be no point in using it. OTOH, there are other pressures, too, not least being seen to run a well-founded ship. Users out there, particularly institutional ones, are bound to have expectations. For example, today the City of Munich announced the latest stage in its Debian rollout, but they likely wouldn't have gone for Debian to begin with if they'd thought its development process was struggling. An

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