Will Debian’s technical committee coopt Keith Packard or Philipp Kern?

The process has been ongoing for more than a year but the Debian technical committee is about to select a candidate to recommend for its vacant seat. The Debian Project Leader will then (likely) appoint him (looks like it won’t be a women).

According to recent discussions on debian-ctte@lists.debian.org, it seems that either Keith Packard or Philipp Kern will join the committee.

If you look at the current membership of the committee, you will see:

  • Bdale Garbee: USA
  • Russ Allbery: USA
  • Don Armstrong: USA
  • Andreas Barth: Germany
  • Ian Jackson: United Kingdom
  • Steve Langasek: USA
  • Colin Watson: United Kingdom

That’s very Anglo-Saxon centric (6 out of 7 members). While I trust the current members and while I know that they are open-minded people, it still bothers me to see this important body with so few diversity.

Coming back to the choice at hand, Keith Packard is American and Philipp Kern is German. No new country in the mix. I can only hope that Philipp will be picked to bring some more balance in the body.


  1. says

    I think that in this case is not important at all the divevrsity, instead the quality is the only parameter that matters!
    I also know that to be part of the committee board require deep knowledge of the system and lot of time to invest in the project, therefore I imagine it should be quite hard to find candidates. Maybe that’s becouse there is not so much diversity.

    Anyway, most of the DDs are from USA and German (around 36% of all of them).

    • says

      Certainly competence is an important factor. But last I discussed with Bdale Garbee, he said that they had many good candidates. That said it’s still possible that all the good candidates were mostly from USA or Germany, I don’t know since they never shared the list of candidates.

  2. Ralph Aichinger says

    To state the obvious: Diversity-wise a woman would be absolutely wonderful.

    On the other hand: Choosing between Keith Packard and Philip Kern is a good problem to have, if it comes to staffing a technical committee.

    • says

      Definitely, a woman would be wonderful. But the road is going to be long until we get there. We see almost no women in most of the very-involved technical roles (release team, porters, team leaders, etc.) that tend to constitute the pool of people where candidates for the technical committee are likely to be found.

      • Ana says

        P. Kern is very involved in some of those teams you mention. It isn’t the case of Keith Packard. Keith is very involved in all X* stuff but not that involved in Debian.

        • says

          On the other hand, he cares enough about Debian to be a regular attendant of Debconf. But still you’re right, from my point of view, it’s one reason more why I would prefer Philipp. Keith is certainly technically competent but not very involved in any of the numerous core tasks that matters for Debian, nor is he visible in public discussions. He maintains a bunch of packages among which only fontconfig/freetype are widely used. http://qa.debian.org/developer.php?login=keithp

          I don’t even know if he helps the X Strike Force from time to time.

  3. Colin Watson says

    I may be a native English speaker but I’ll have you know I’m Celtic not Anglo-Saxon. 🙂

    • says

      Heh 🙂 I hesitated to include you in this count, but db.debian.org reported that you live in UK. That said I knew that you were Irish (hopefully I remember correctly)… and on this side of the English Channel, we tend to put everything on the other side in the Anglo-Saxon world. Sorry about that.