The Debian project has, thus, come up with some ideas to encourage companies to give back something. Salazar said that this year DebConf would have a booth for companies that were supporting the project to show off their wares.
Sardi dealt with the reasons why Debian was not in the line for corporate largesse - and there are quite a few. "Can we have Debian developers commit to fix a certain issue in a timely fashion?" he asked, adding that it was not possible to ask a customer to wait in the event that an issue which blocked productivity arose.
To a large extent, Sardi's arguments exposed the dual role which Debian is increasingly called upon to play - corporates would like to see a more regular release schedule so that more recent versions of software are included while the geeks want the 'release when it is ready' mantra to prevail.
Ubuntu has stepped into the breach as far as the desktop is concerned - and this is an irritant because without Debian there would be no Ubuntu. There are many cases of the derivative being more popular than the old man and also bringing commercial success.
Sardi said several issues needed to be addressed - the shipping of binary drivers which perform better than their open source counterparts, the question of including kernel hacks (which have been rejected by the Linux kernel team) which meant that Debian would then need to maintain its own kernel (a task that requires massive manpower), and certification.
It all comes back to the traditional argument which Debian developers have once in a while - to what extent should the project cater to commercial requirements as opposed to remaining totally true to its social contract.
It will be a long time before this question is resolved.
A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.