Note: This is the continuation of part 1 where I presented Freexian and its purpose.
Going forward: growing Freexian
Part 1: From “Debian LTS” to “Debian for the Enterprise”
Freexian’s “Debian LTS” service has so far been entirely successful, with a steady growth over the years. Thanks to this, and even if there are always new challenges, it is fair to say that the Debian LTS team has met its goal in the last few years.
While this started from the desire to make LTS a reality, many sponsors are only looking for a way to give back to Debian through their company, and to make sure that Debian fits their needs.
But if you look at the bigger picture outside of this small LTS area, you will easily find many issues that need to be addressed if we want Debian to meet the needs of corporate users. Those issues can have widely different types and complexity. They can be as simple as missing the latest upstream version for an important package because the maintainer disappeared and nobody noticed before it was too late (i.e. the release was frozen); or a somewhat basic piece of software not yet packaged at all; or a release critical bug that was left unattended. On the other end of the spectrum, some corporate requirements will prove tougher to solve, for instance for large software suites that are complex to package, or could potentially have an impact elsewhere in Debian.
Bringing those facts together, we would like to have Freexian’s “Debian LTS/ELTS” offering evolve into a more general “Debian Software Assurance” offering, where you commit to a yearly budget for Debian sponsorship in the larger sense. That budget would fund different “projects” and the allocation between those projects would vary over time depending on the desires and needs of the sponsors/customers:
- Technical support: the budget would always ensure that you have a few spare hours of technical support available in case you need them
- Debian LTS: we want this to continue!
- Debian ELTS: when the customer has not managed to migrate their Debian servers in time, they should be able to reallocate their budget towards ELTS and ensure their servers are secure until the migration has taken place.
- Debian for the enterprise
- Make sure that the packages used by sponsors are in good shape in Debian Testing/Unstable so that they are in the best shape for the next stable release.
- Package new software that are relevant for corporate users. Offer to pool the maintenance work.
- Fix bugs that customers are hitting.
- Debian project funding: that’s the variable part of the budget (and would have a minimum of 10% like we do for Debian LTS right now). When the other projects do not consume the whole budget, we invest the remaining money into generic Debian improvements.
This major shift in our offering would also be an ideal opportunity to build a professional, free-software based infrastructure aimed at sustaining this business, making it easier to administer the various aspects of this work, and easily allowing many more sponsors to join (individuals included!).
On a more pragmatic/operational note, this shift will bring a lot of challenges to the table, and those can hardly be handled with the current resources of Freexian: if we hope to properly implement this new strategy, we’ll need some additional help.
This article is to be continued in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!