Towns the talk of Debian Project

Summary:update The widely used Debian GNU/Linux distribution has a new project leader following an election process spanning several weeks. Australian Anthony Towns won the poll from a field of several candidates after 421 votes -- from 43 percent of the eligible community of Debian developers -- were cast.

update The widely used Debian GNU/Linux distribution has a new project leader following an election process spanning several weeks.

Australian Anthony Towns won the poll from a field of several candidates after 421 votes -- from 43 percent of the eligible community of Debian developers -- were cast. Towns -- who is also the secretary of industry body Linux Australia -- will take up the post for one year from Monday 17 April, taking over from incumbent Branden Robinson.

His appointment was announced on a posting to a Debian list on Saturday evening by the project's secretary, Manoj Srivastava.

In his platform for election, Towns said the most important issue for Debian was "increasing its tempo".

"We've been slow in a lot of things, from releasing, to getting updates in, to processing applications from prospective developers, to fixing bugs, to making decisons on policy questions, and all sorts of other things.

"Even the [Debian] election process takes longer to go from start to whoa than the last Australian federal election, and this year we'll have two state elections run and complete entirely within the election period".

According to the Debian Web site, Towns' tasks as project leader include giving talks and presentations about the distribution to external events such as trade shows and forging good relationships with other organisations and companies.

Internally, Towns must also manage the project and define its vision while supporting the work of developers.

Based in Brisbane, he has served as manager for at least one Debian release.

Towns told ZDNet Australia in an e-mail interview his greatest challenge in the job would be coordinating Debian's ongoing development.

"I don't think it's a question of where we want to go, so much as whether we're getting there as quickly as we ought to be. So primarily, I'm going to be focussing on helping the project get from 'Hey, wouldn't it be nice if...' to 'Sure, you can do that just by downloading the current Debian' as efficiently as possible.

"Some of that will mean making sure we take advantage of the work that other groups, like Ubuntu or Red Hat have already done, other times it will mean making sure we don't get confused in how we're talking to each other and create unnecessary delays that way, other times it will mean coming up with inventive new techniques to avoid problems that either haven't come up before, or simply haven't been solved before.

"It's a big goal, so my main priority at the moment is to break out some reasonably achievable taks, and develop some plans to get them happening."

Towns' second priority was to ensure those that had expressed interest in contributing more to Debian were given that opportunity, "starting with the other [project leader] candidates", he said.

While Towns did not see his appointment as a reflection of the strength of Debian developer talent locally, there were a number of major contributors based in Australia, he said.

Melbourne's Helen Faulkner and Pascal Hakim were two such contributors, according to Towns, as well as Linux Australia president Jonathan Oxer. Oxer extended "warm congratulations" to Towns in an e-mail statement issued this morning.

Topics: Open Source, Linux

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