Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, March 2016

A Debian LTS logoLike each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

Individual reports

In February, 111.75 work hours have been dispatched among 10 paid contributors. Their reports are available:

  • Antoine Beaupré did 8h.
  • Ben Hutchings did 12.75 hours (out of 11 hours allocated + 7.25 extra hours remaining, meaning that he still has 5.50 extra hours to do over April).
  • Brian May did 10 hours.
  • Chris Lamb did 7 hours (instead of the 14.25 hours he was allocated +, compensating the extra hours he did last month).
  • Damyan Ivanov did nothing out of the 7.25 remaining hours he had, he opted to give them back and come back to LTS work later.
  • Guido Günther did 13 hours (out of 12 hours allocated + 4.25 remaining hours, leaving 3.25 extra hours for April).
  • Markus Koschany did 14.25 hours.
  • Mike Gabriel did nothing and opted to give back the 8 hours allocated. He will stop LTS work for now as he has other projects taking all his time.
  • Santiago Ruano Rincón did 10 hours (out of 12h allocated + 1.50 remaining, thus keeping 3.50 extra hours for April).
  • Scott Kitterman did a few hours but was not able to provide his report in time due to sickness. His next report will cover two months.
  • Thorsten Alteholz did 14.25 hours.

Evolution of the situation

The number of sponsored hours started to increase for April (116.75 hours, thanks to Sonus Networks) and should increase even further for May (with a new Gold sponsor currently joining us, Babiel GmbH). Hopefully the trend will continue so that we can reach our objective of funding the equivalent of a full-time position.

At the end of the month the LTS team will be fully responsible of all Debian 7 Wheezy updates. For now paid contributors are still helping the security team by fixing packages that were fixed in squeeze already but that are still outstanding in wheezy.

They are also looking for ways to ensure that some of the most complicated packages can be supported over the wheezy LTS timeframe. It is likely that we will seek external help (possibly from credativ which is already handling support of PostgreSQL) for the maintenance of Xen and that some other packages (like libav, vlc, maybe qemu?) will be upgraded to newer versions which are still maintained (either upstream or in Debian Jessie by the Debian maintainers).

Thanks to our sponsors

New sponsors are in bold.

Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, February 2016

A Debian LTS logoLike each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

Individual reports

In February, 112.50 work hours have been dispatched among 11 paid contributors. Their reports are available:

Evolution of the situation

The number of sponsored hours continued to decrease a little bit. It’s not worrisome yet but we should try to get back to a positive slope if we want to be able to do an outstanding job for wheezy LTS. On the positive side, TOSHIBA renewed their platinum sponsorship for another 6 months at least and we have some contacts for new sponsors, though they are far from being concluded yet.

We are now in transition between squeeze LTS and wheezy LTS. The paid contributors are helping the security team by fixing packages that were fixed in squeeze already but that are still outstanding in wheezy. They are also taking generic measures to prepare wheezy LTS (for example to ensure all packages work with OpenJDK 7.x since support for 6.x will be dropped in the LTS period).

Thanks to our sponsors

New sponsors are in bold (none this month).

Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, January 2016

A Debian LTS logoLike each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

Individual reports

In December, 113.50 work hours have been dispatched among 9 paid contributors. Their reports are available:

Evolution of the situation

As expected, we had a small drop in the amount of hours sponsored. New sponsors (re-)joined but others stopped too (Gree this time)… mostly balancing the result. We only lost 2 hours of sponsored work.

It would be nice if we could invert that curve and actually start again to get closer to our objective of funding the equivalent of a full time position. Let’s hope that the switch to wheezy as the version supported by the LTS team will motivate many companies relying on Debian 7 in their IT system.

In terms of security updates waiting to be handled, the situation is close to last month(17 packages in dla-needed.txt, 27 in the list of CVE). It looks like that having about 20 packages needing an update is the normal situation and that we can’t really get further down given the time required to process some updates (sometimes we wait until the upstream authors provides a patch, and so on).

Thanks to our sponsors

New sponsors are in bold.

Working as a paid LTS contributor

A Debian LTS logoWhile the details about how to join the set of paid contributors have always been public (here) we did not advertise this fact very much outside of the people already interested in LTS (and thus subscribed to debian-lts@lists.debian.org). But right now we would like to have a few more paid contributors on board and I’m thus posting this call for volunteers.

Who can apply?

You need to meet those requirements:

  • you are Debian Developer or a Debian Maintainer;
  • you have some prior experience with providing security updates in Debian (at least on your own packages);
  • you have good programming skills and know multiple languages (to be able to backport security fixes);
  • you can emit invoices to Freexian;
  • you accept the rules defined for this project:
    • you must respect the privacy of any customer data;
    • you must prepare a public monthly report of the work done on paid time;
    • you must respect the Debian code of conduct and respond to queries about your work from fellow community members;
    • you must do your best to meet the high-quality standards set by the Debian security team.

Even though Freexian is located in France and requires you to provide invoice in EUR, there are no conditions on your nationality or country of residence. For contributors outside of the Euro zone, Freexian is using Transferwise to pay them with minimal currency conversion costs (Paypal is also possible if nothing else works).

The rate offered to paid contributors is the same for all (75 EUR/hour), it’s based on a correct rate for independent contractors in western Europe. If the rate is very high for your own country, then be happy to be able to invoice Freexian at this rate and use this opportunity to work less (for money) and contribute more to Debian on your (now copious) free time.

How does the work look like?

If you apply, you will have to send us an SSH key so that you can have access to the internal git repository used for work. It contains a ledger file to track the hours funded by sponsors and how they have been dispatched to the various contributors. You can always know how many hours are assigned to you, how many can be invoiced, and so on. You will have to update it once a month to record the work you did (and indicate us where the report has been published).

The repository also contains a README with many explanations about the workflow (how hours are dispatched, the delay you have to publish your report, etc) and a small helper script (./find-work) to match up the pending updates (registered in dla-needed.txt) with the popularity of the package among the sponsors.

Now the work itself is relatively well documented in the LTS wiki. You will have to provide updates for packages that need an update.

You have some freedom in selecting the packages but at some point you will have to work on packages that you don’t know that are written in a language that you have almost not used. So you must be able to go out of your comfort zone and still do a good work. You must also be able to multi-task because in some cases you will get stuck on a particular update and you will have to seek help from the upstream developer (or from the Debian package maintainer). Don’t expect to be able to do all your work hours in a single run… thus don’t wait until the last days of the month. Start early and dispatch your work hours over the month.

From time to time, you will also have to handle the “LTS frontdesk” for one week. During this week, you need to spend a bit of time every day to triage the new CVE, to respond to questions on the mailing list, and to sponsor updates prepared by volunteers who do not have upload rights.

Questions?

Ask your questions in the comments and I will update this section with your questions and our answers.

What if I have no prior experience with security updates?

Start getting some experience. The LTS and security teams are open for anyone to join. Read their documentation and provide some updates that other contributors can sponsor.

Before accepting you as paid contributor, we generally ask you to prepare one or two DLA on your free time just to make sure that you know the workflow and that you are up to the task.

What if I have only X hours available for paid LTS work?

In the git repository there’s a file where you document how many work hours you can handle. You might get less than this amount, but we generally never assign less than 8 hours (to make sure that you can handle one complicated update from start to end, or your possible week of LTS frontdesk).

You can adjust it each month or even opt-out if you are not available for whatever reason. But once you have been assigned work hours, it’s important to actually do the work that you requested!

How do I apply?

Get in touch with me (as documented).