Thomas Goirand | 11 Mar 20:16 2012
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Finding sponsors for Debian

Hi,

This is a question for all candidates.

Over the years, I've always been very surprised to see that there's very
little money that Debian is able to get. I'm convinced that this
situation could change with a bit of involvement from the DPL, and that
such money could help a lot the project. For example, sending open
letters to big companies, and letting them know that we do accept
monetary contributions could help.

Also, comparing to derivative, I estimate that a distro like MiNT gets
as much as at least 3 times money just by google adwords and browser
start page. Of course, I'm not advocating for adwords on www.debian.org,
but I feel like there's a big room for improvement.

Having more money for travel sponsorship would really be great, and
could improve the project and its infrastructure.

Do the candidates feel the same way as I do? What types of actions could
be done to improve the current situation, which if I'm not mistaking,
isn't great this year?

Cheers,

Thomas

Wouter Verhelst | 12 Mar 09:00 2012
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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

On Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 03:16:42AM +0800, Thomas Goirand wrote:
> Hi,
> 
> This is a question for all candidates.
> 
> Over the years, I've always been very surprised to see that there's very
> little money that Debian is able to get.

I don't agree with that assessment. I do think Debian is able to get the
money it needs; we don't need a lot.

Of course, it's unfortunate that the full details are not available.
There's been work on making Debian's monetary details more transparent,
but AFAIK there hasn't been anything made public on that yet. I suppose
this is something that will require some sort of follow-up with the
Auditors, who've been working on this.

> I'm convinced that this
> situation could change with a bit of involvement from the DPL, and that
> such money could help a lot the project. For example, sending open
> letters to big companies, and letting them know that we do accept
> monetary contributions could help.

I believe we already do such active searching for sponsorship in the
context of DebConf.

In addition to that, we're getting a lot of sponsorship in ways that are
not direct money: e.g., hardware, connectivity, or office space for
things like meetings and BSPs are also invaluable ways of helping the
project without spending money.
(Continue reading)

Mehdi Dogguy | 12 Mar 09:21 2012
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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

On 03/12/2012 09:00 AM, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> 
> Having said all that, provided we don't overdo it, having more money 
> isn't necessarily a bad thing. If there are ways to attract more
> money from donators, we should do so. I don't think sending letters
> to companies is going to accomplish that, but that doesn't mean we 
> shouldn't try other things.
> 

The question was precisely: what are “other things”? Can you be more
explicit?

Regards,

-- 
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Wouter Verhelst | 12 Mar 17:18 2012
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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

On Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 09:21:32AM +0100, Mehdi Dogguy wrote:
> On 03/12/2012 09:00 AM, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> > Having said all that, provided we don't overdo it, having more money 
> > isn't necessarily a bad thing. If there are ways to attract more
> > money from donators, we should do so. I don't think sending letters
> > to companies is going to accomplish that, but that doesn't mean we 
> > shouldn't try other things.
> > 
> 
> The question was precisely: what are “other things”? Can you be more
> explicit?

I haven't thought about this much, but off the top of my head: we could
put a note in the release notes or in the installation manual, and/or
put something on the website, along the lines of "Debian is a volunteer
organization that relies on volunteer contributions for survival. You
can help!"

I believe this will be much more effective than sending a letter to a
company; that feels a bit more like begging to me, and might work
counterproductive.

Note that none of this requires personal involvement from the DPL,
however.

--

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the following formula:

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(Continue reading)

Thomas Goirand | 13 Mar 06:06 2012
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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

On 03/13/2012 12:18 AM, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> we could
> put a note in the release notes or in the installation manual

Do you *seriously* think that this would help? :)

> and/or put something on the website

We have this on our from page already (eg: the Donations link).

Thomas

Kalle Kivimaa | 12 Mar 09:09 2012
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Picon

Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

On 12.3.2012, at 10.00, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> Of course, it's unfortunate that the full details are not available.
> There's been work on making Debian's monetary details more transparent,
> but AFAIK there hasn't been anything made public on that yet. I suppose
> this is something that will require some sort of follow-up with the
> Auditors, who've been working on this.
> 

Well, most of the Debian monetary assets are held by SPI, and the SPI reports their assets publicly (the
board meeting minutes), so this isn't a huge problem. It would be nice if the auditors would release a
public yearly summary, though.

Stefano Zacchiroli | 12 Mar 19:33 2012
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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

On Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 10:09:09AM +0200, Kalle Kivimaa wrote:
> Well, most of the Debian monetary assets are held by SPI, and the SPI
> reports their assets publicly (the board meeting minutes), so this
> isn't a huge problem. It would be nice if the auditors would release a
> public yearly summary, though.

That used to be the case, but is no longer true. See for instance my
report about Debian finances (and sprints) at DebConf11:

  http://upsilon.cc/~zack/talks/2011/201107-dc11-money.pdf

back then we had more money at FFIS than SPI. A temporary justification
of that is that DebConf11 has been in the European continent but:

1) DebConf moves around and might bring with it similar fluctuations
   periodically

2) even at present, after the post-DebConf finance stabilization, the
   ratio of Debian money is something like 60% at SPI and 40% at FFIS
   (and used to be more close before the recent acquisition of expensive
   hardware on FFIS money)

The fact that SPI reports publicly and periodicly about their assets
does mitigate our money transparency problem. But it is far from solving
it.

Cheers.
--

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Maître de conférences   ......   http://upsilon.cc/zack   ......   . . o
(Continue reading)

Stefano Zacchiroli | 12 Mar 19:25 2012
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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

On Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 03:16:42AM +0800, Thomas Goirand wrote:
> Over the years, I've always been very surprised to see that there's very
> little money that Debian is able to get. I'm convinced that this
> situation could change with a bit of involvement from the DPL, and that
> such money could help a lot the project. For example, sending open
> letters to big companies, and letting them know that we do accept
> monetary contributions could help.

Let me start by observing the obvious: attracting money is not a goal
per se; Putting them into good use for Debian is. According to my DPL
experience, we have two main chapters in Debian budget: travel
sponsoring and hardware replacement.

On the second chapter, money availability hasn't been an issue up to
now: we have been able to replace fairly expensive servers (10 kEUR+)
without having to worry too much. That might change in the future,
depending on DSA needs, but we are not there yet. Either way, the real
bottleneck there is the *coordination* work that is involved with buying
hardware: getting quotes, picking vendors, choosing hosting, etc. It is
*a lot* of work and DSA is very good at it. But they could use some help
and that is why DSA members have been called in the past for people
helping with the formation of an hardware coordination team. I've
repeated various times their call for help, but the number of volunteers
has been scarce (hint hint).

On the first chapter --- travel sponsoring --- there are two main
sub-chapters: DebConf travel sponsoring and sprints. For the sake of
this discussion let me include in the latter sub-chapter travel expenses
related to Debian representatives who attend events on Debian budget: it
currently happens rarely enough not to warrant a separate category.
(Continue reading)

Arno Töll | 12 Mar 21:55 2012
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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian


Hello,

On 12.03.2012 19:25, Stefano Zacchiroli wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 03:16:42AM +0800, Thomas Goirand wrote:
>> Over the years, I've always been very surprised to see that
>> there's very little money that Debian is able to get. I'm
>> convinced that this situation could change with a bit of
>> involvement from the DPL, and that such money could help a lot
>> the project. For example, sending open letters to big companies,
>> and letting them know that we do accept monetary contributions
>> could help.
> 
> Let me start by observing the obvious: attracting money is not a
> goal per se; Putting them into good use for Debian is. According to
> my DPL experience, we have two main chapters in Debian budget:
> travel sponsoring and hardware replacement.

(cc:-ing -project as that's a more general discussion not directly
directed to DPL candidates but related. Maybe follow-ups should be
sent there)

as somebody who pushed $work to donate money to Debian (i.e. via
FFIS), I always wondered about the financial merits of these
donations. As much as I am involved to work within Debian, I have no
clue what you used "our" money for. I am probably not literally
interested what for you spent the money we donated, but I think
sponsors would appreciate or be more interested to donate if they
could see in a more popular advertisement what Debian spends money for
(i.e. something more handsome than SPI board minutes) and possibly
(Continue reading)

Martin Schulze | 12 Mar 22:35 2012

Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Arno Töll wrote:
> as somebody who pushed $work to donate money to Debian (i.e. via
> FFIS), I always wondered about the financial merits of these
> donations. As much as I am involved to work within Debian, I have no
> clue what you used "our" money for. I am probably not literally
> interested what for you spent the money we donated, but I think
> sponsors would appreciate or be more interested to donate if they
> could see in a more popular advertisement what Debian spends money for
> (i.e. something more handsome than SPI board minutes) and possibly
> getting little "thank you" post cards or some merchandise (e.g. a
> coffee mug or a T-Shirt) as a symbolic acknowledgement of gratidude.

Here are some hints:

http://lists.debian.org/debian-announce/2010/msg00004.html
http://www.debian.org/News/2009/20090208

There are probably more if one searches more.

Regards,

	Joey

-- 
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Don Armstrong | 12 Mar 23:04 2012
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Visible results from sponsor funds [Re: Finding sponsors for Debian]

On Mon, 12 Mar 2012, Arno Töll wrote:
> Actually, $boss asked me the other day how to support Debian better
> as he wasn't very convinced about usefulness of money donations to
> Debian as he didn't get much feedback about that, other than a tax
> deductable receipt.

It would probably be useful to have a single location in the w.d.o
hierarchy which listed recent money expenditures by the project, with
links to announcements and blog posts or similar. [And in the case of
hardware, pictures of the hardware or similar.] (Maybe one already
exists and I don't know about it?)

Cc:'ing to -www for comment.

Don Armstrong

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Simon Paillard | 12 Mar 23:29 2012
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Re: Visible results from sponsor funds [Re: Finding sponsors for Debian]

On Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 03:04:34PM -0700, Don Armstrong wrote:
> On Mon, 12 Mar 2012, Arno Töll wrote:
> > Actually, $boss asked me the other day how to support Debian better
> > as he wasn't very convinced about usefulness of money donations to
> > Debian as he didn't get much feedback about that, other than a tax
> > deductable receipt.
> 
> It would probably be useful to have a single location in the w.d.o
> hierarchy which listed recent money expenditures by the project, with
> links to announcements and blog posts or similar. [And in the case of
> hardware, pictures of the hardware or similar.] (Maybe one already
> exists and I don't know about it?)

Maybe not enough visible, but linked from http://www.debian.org/donations :
http://www.debian.org/partners/
http://www.debian.org/misc/equipment_donations
(and http://www.debian.org/mirror/official_sponsors too)

-- 
Simon Paillard

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Stefano Zacchiroli | 13 Mar 09:21 2012
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Re: Visible results from sponsor funds [Re: Finding sponsors for Debian]

On Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 03:04:34PM -0700, Don Armstrong wrote:
> It would probably be useful to have a single location in the w.d.o
> hierarchy which listed recent money expenditures by the project, with
> links to announcements and blog posts or similar. [And in the case of
> hardware, pictures of the hardware or similar.] (Maybe one already
> exists and I don't know about it?)
> 
> Cc:'ing to -www for comment.

As briefly discussed on IRC with Don: the auditors already plan to
periodically publish money reports in a specific www.d.o section.

What is missing, though, is cross referencing with visual clues that
*show* work being done with donated money. We are quite good at that for
DebConf, with the final report, but we don't do that for other events
like sprints or, why not, machine installations / replacement.

Cheers.
--

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Don Armstrong | 12 Mar 23:35 2012
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Re: Visible results from sponsor funds [Re: Finding sponsors for Debian]

On Mon, 12 Mar 2012, Don Armstrong wrote:
> On Mon, 12 Mar 2012, Arno Töll wrote:
> > Actually, $boss asked me the other day how to support Debian better
> > as he wasn't very convinced about usefulness of money donations to
> > Debian as he didn't get much feedback about that, other than a tax
> > deductable receipt.
> 
> It would probably be useful to have a single location in the w.d.o
> hierarchy which listed recent money expenditures by the project, with
> links to announcements and blog posts or similar. [And in the case of
> hardware, pictures of the hardware or similar.] (Maybe one already
> exists and I don't know about it?)

Zack pointed out to me on IRC that TBM is working on something similar
for a quarterly report. Once that effort is a bit farther along,
incorporating images and external information about the expenditures
would help flesh everything out.

Don Armstrong

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of the modern world.

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(Continue reading)

Stefano Zacchiroli | 12 Mar 23:15 2012
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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

On Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 09:55:25PM +0100, Arno Töll wrote:
> as somebody who pushed $work to donate money to Debian (i.e. via
> FFIS), I always wondered about the financial merits of these
> donations. As much as I am involved to work within Debian, I have no
> clue what you used "our" money for. I am probably not literally
> interested what for you spent the money we donated, but I think
> sponsors would appreciate or be more interested to donate if they
> could see in a more popular advertisement what Debian spends money for
> (i.e. something more handsome than SPI board minutes) and possibly
> getting little "thank you" post cards or some merchandise (e.g. a
> coffee mug or a T-Shirt) as a symbolic acknowledgement of gratidude.
> 
> Actually, $boss asked me the other day how to support Debian better as
> he wasn't very convinced about usefulness of money donations to Debian
> as he didn't get much feedback about that, other than a tax deductable
> receipt.

Something that I've found to work well to "convince" $companies and
$bosses is DebConf sponsoring (which has a more recent incarnation of
the announcement posted by Martin is at
http://www.debian.org/News/2012/20120304 ) and
http://wiki.debian.org/Sprints .

The former works well because companies tend to know pretty well the
burden and costs of conference organization.

The latter works well, especially with FOSS-aware companies, because
there is quite some company culture that it is at developer meetings
that donated money "turn into code" (I've stolen the expression from a
Google representative. I don't particularly like it, but it has the
(Continue reading)

Gunnar Wolf | 12 Mar 23:19 2012

Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Arno Töll dijo [Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 09:55:25PM +0100]:
> as somebody who pushed $work to donate money to Debian (i.e. via
> FFIS), I always wondered about the financial merits of these
> donations. As much as I am involved to work within Debian, I have no
> clue what you used "our" money for. I am probably not literally
> interested what for you spent the money we donated, but I think
> sponsors would appreciate or be more interested to donate if they
> could see in a more popular advertisement what Debian spends money for
> (i.e. something more handsome than SPI board minutes) and possibly
> getting little "thank you" post cards or some merchandise (e.g. a
> coffee mug or a T-Shirt) as a symbolic acknowledgement of gratidude.

Well, we now have a Debian Auditor, a position that in part answers
precisely that kind of queries. And also, as said earlier in the
thread in d-vote, Debian's main annual expense is DebConf. DebConf
*tries* not to use Debian funds and to be as completely sponsor-funded
as possible. We have also published final status reports which,
although maybe not cent-by-cent, include a general insight on our main
money expenses — So you can think your $work helped fund some Debian
people to get to the DebConf that happened in $donation_year :-}

> Actually, $boss asked me the other day how to support Debian better as
> he wasn't very convinced about usefulness of money donations to Debian
> as he didn't get much feedback about that, other than a tax deductable
> receipt.

We have talked (and I mean in DebConf, that's the area of Debian I
spent most of my orga-work in) about allowing this year for a better
way of identifying precisely _what_ is a donor giving — As we did many
years ago, we will allow sponsors to target their money to a specific
(Continue reading)

Arno Töll | 12 Mar 23:46 2012
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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian


Hi,

On 12.03.2012 23:19, Gunnar Wolf wrote:
>> Actually, $boss asked me the other day how to support Debian
>> better as he wasn't very convinced about usefulness of money
>> donations to Debian as he didn't get much feedback about that,
>> other than a tax deductable receipt.
> 
> We have talked (and I mean in DebConf, that's the area of Debian I 
> spent most of my orga-work in) about allowing this year for a
> better way of identifying precisely _what_ is a donor giving — As
> we did many years ago, we will allow sponsors to target their money
> to a specific target. So, i.e. we will be able to say "the
> conference dinner was kindly sponsored by Toell.net". Does it sound
> interesting? :-}

heh, except that that's my private address (and you can find us in the
DC11 sponsor list with already (Holger can give you details :)), but
I'm not here to advertise ourselves).

We sponsored both, Debian and DebConf in the past but my boss does not
feel very comfortable to sponsor DebConfs because he's more interested
to support actual Debian work as a distribution, as Debian is the
system we rely upon for our business. I find that understandable from
an outsider's point of view as he'd like to show his appreciation for
a rock stable distribution with great tools in the first place.

However, let me repeat my point is not to mention our individual
situation, with my $work hat on. I'm more keen to make Debian a more
(Continue reading)

Stefano Zacchiroli | 13 Mar 09:19 2012
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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

On Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 11:46:13PM +0100, Arno Töll wrote:
> We sponsored both, Debian and DebConf in the past but my boss does not
> feel very comfortable to sponsor DebConfs because he's more interested
> to support actual Debian work as a distribution, as Debian is the
> system we rely upon for our business. I find that understandable from
> an outsider's point of view as he'd like to show his appreciation for
> a rock stable distribution with great tools in the first place.

How about the Sprint page I've mentioned in my previous reply? I know
that it has worked well for other $companies, but it'd be useful to know
if your $company find that convincing or not. If they don't, it would be
helpful if you can share your impressions on why they don't.

Cheers.
--

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Arno Töll | 13 Mar 12:50 2012
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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian


Hi,
On 13.03.2012 09:19, Stefano Zacchiroli wrote:
> How about the Sprint page I've mentioned in my previous reply? I
> know that it has worked well for other $companies, but it'd be
> useful to know if your $company find that convincing or not. If
> they don't, it would be helpful if you can share your impressions
> on why they don't.

reporting the outcome of my talk to $boss. [As a disclaimer: He's not
involved into Debian development, he has no clue about organizational
details and my commitment on Debian is purely private. I mean: I am
not paid to work in Debian by him which means his interest is rather
cursorily and some points don't reflect my opinion]:

As I already reported, he would basically like to see a financial
summary for what purpose Debian spends money. It may be all obvious to
Debian Developers but it is not to outsiders. He literally said "If I
donate Debian 20 servers, I know what they use them for. But I don't
know what they do with my money". You know, he's $boss, he has no time
(let's pretend it is time :)) to dig mailing lists, SPI board minutes
and such to grab the information he's interested in. He probably would
like to see some nifty overview tables, some fancy pie charts and
actual expenses presented in a fashion someone not involved into
Debian can understand.

These things should be all coordinated on a central place
understandable to everyone and yes, I appreciate any work done on that
so far. For example he found the sprints interesting, but he denoted a
"not for us" point of view, because he has _no_ clue what "DSA"
(Continue reading)

Stefano Zacchiroli | 13 Mar 13:32 2012
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Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

On Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 12:50:44PM +0100, Arno Töll wrote:
> As I already reported, he would basically like to see a financial
> summary for what purpose Debian spends money. It may be all obvious to
> Debian Developers but it is not to outsiders. He literally said "If I
> donate Debian 20 servers, I know what they use them for. But I don't
> know what they do with my money". You know, he's $boss, he has no time
> (let's pretend it is time :)) to dig mailing lists, SPI board minutes
> and such to grab the information he's interested in. He probably would
> like to see some nifty overview tables, some fancy pie charts and
> actual expenses presented in a fashion someone not involved into
> Debian can understand.

Awesome. This is exactly what the auditors are working on, in particular
thanks to the recent frenetic work on the matter by Martin Michlmayr.
The ETA for delivery is still as vague as "in the next $few months" but
we're as close to the goal as we have ever been (I've given some more
pointers about all this in my platform).

According to a recent discussion with Martin, right not is not a good
moment to volunteer to help, because a lot of work is ongoing and it
need to be stabilized a bit before others could help.

But it is useful to have this discussion. I hope it shows how this kind
of work is important for the project, and not just useless bureaucracy
and boring non-typical-geek stuff.

Cheers.
--

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(Continue reading)

Holger Levsen | 13 Mar 10:13 2012

Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

Hi,

On Montag, 12. März 2012, Arno Töll wrote:
> We sponsored both, Debian and DebConf in the past but my boss does not
> feel very comfortable to sponsor DebConfs because he's more interested
> to support actual Debian work as a distribution, as Debian is the
> system we rely upon for our business.

I think that means we failed to communicate (well enough) that sponsoring 
DebConf, the conf, _means_ sponsoring Debian, the distribution.

Arno, maybe you can show your boss the (pretty short and pretty pretty pretty) 
article Stefano wrote about this in the DebConf11 final report, right the 
first one here:

http://media.debconf.org/dc11/report/DebConf11_FinalReport.pdf

But I've learned that we need to communicate this a whole lot better. Ideas 
how?

cheers,
	Holger

Neil McGovern | 13 Mar 10:17 2012
Picon

Re: Finding sponsors for Debian

On Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 10:13:38AM +0100, Holger Levsen wrote:
> But I've learned that we need to communicate this a whole lot better. Ideas 
> how
... would be best directed to debian-project :)

Neil
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