To what extent have communication channels between Debian and Ubuntu improved since you became DPL?
Thanks to the interest of many people from both camps, many cross-distro initiatives ensued, like the Debian Derivatives front desk and the Derivatives Census, to name just a few. Two years later, as I reported at a recent UDS, the amount of patches forwarded from Ubuntu to Debian is at its maximum and we see a steady flow of new Debian contributors coming from an Ubuntu background.
But it's not all roses: while communication between Debian and Ubuntu (as a project) seems to be on the rise, communication between Debian and Canonical (as a company) seems to stagnate at times. For one thing, I regret the lack in Debian of valuable Free Software components developed by Canonical. They probably wish for more interest by Debian in packaging them, while on the Debian side people wish for that software to be more easily portable to distributions other than Ubuntu. Not to mention specific political choices that various hackers consider blockers, such as CLA/CAAs. So, as you see, there are still margins for improvement, and we are working on them.
Your first platform back in 2010 said you would provide more gradual and rewarding access paths to Debian. What has happened on this front during your two years as leader?
For packager contributors, the bigger change has been the introduction of DMs, which predates my DPL years. All in all, it seems to be a sufficient intermediate step which is both popular and synergistic with the process to become full DDs. We haven't seen the need to propose significant changes on that front.
But it is for other kinds of contributors that a radical change has happened a couple of years ago: we have ruled that Debian welcomes as Project Members (AKA "Debian Developers", but more contribution-neutral) contributors active in any project area, both technical (packaging, development, porting, sysadming, etc) and non-technical (writing, accounting, translation, publicity, legal, etc). We now have the first half a dozen developers who became so by working on tasks other than packaging... and we welcome more!
How much progress has Debian made towards being accepted at the corporate level?
"Increasing adoption at the corporate level" - it's another of those areas where corporate-backed distributions tend to be better than community-based distros. To enter that arena one needs to take care of stuff like: sealing deals with hardware manufacturers, building and maintaining a capillary support network for those who want to pay for it, ensuring that important hardware and software parts are "certified" for your distro, etc. All those activities are generally not great fun, and for sure they are not fun for the average Debian Developer.
But as I said in a recent interview this is no excuse. There is a market based on those activities and it plays an important role in the success of Free Software.
So what we have done is to turn the problem around, asking companies that have a strategic interest in Debian to form an interest group where one can discuss how to make it easier to make business based on Debian. At the moment we are inviting companies that are already very committed to Debian, by offering Debian services to their clients and by employing Debian Developers.
Finally, you have stated openly that this will be your last term as leader. What happens if you find out towards the end of the year that you still need another six months or so to bring all your plans to fruition?
I'll just say "too bad" and move on.
One of the main reasons I've decided to run again is to prepare a smooth transition to the next DPL and ensure I've not made myself irreplaceable. I think that's a duty for anyone who end up being in some position of responsibility. That's essentially the only item on my TODO list that should be done by me. Everything else can be handed over to others. So a TODO list that's not empty at the end of the term won't be a big deal. And if at that point I will really want to be working on something which is still pending, nothing prevent me from volunteering with future DPLs to work on that. In my experience DPLs welcome volunteers and are happy to delegate tasks (hint, hint).