Steve McIntyre is the seniormost of the three, having joined in 1996; he contested in 2006 and 2007 as well. Raphael Hertzog, who also ran in 2002 and 2007, has been part of the project since 1998 while Marc Brockschmidt, the youngest of the three, joined Debian in 2004.
The campaigning period runs from March 9 to March 30; during this time an online debate is organised. Voting takes place between March 30 and April 13 and the new leader begins his term on April 17.
The project uses the Condorcet method to determine a winner; to quote from their own explanation, one has to "consider all possible two-way races between candidates. The Condorcet winner, if there is one, is the one candidate who can beat each other candidate in a two-way race with that candidate."
Senior Debian developer Manoj Srivastava, who functions as the secretary of the project, is the equivalent of the election commissioner.
Each candidate puts forward a platform (1 , 2 , 3 ) when they nominate; common to all three this year is the desire to make Debian better known. Hertzog has proposed a DPL board and mentioned the two others whom he would have on that board - his idea is that by having three common-minded people more can be achieved than by a single person.
McIntyre, who functioned as an unofficial assistant project leader in 2006 helping out Australian Anthony Towns, has said he would like to improve communications within the project, something which has generally been a problem over the years.
Brockschmidt, however, acknowledges that improving communications - which he says is better expressed as stopping flames - is not possible because developers are not cuddly stuffed toys.
It seems very likely that the new leader will preside over the release of Lenny, the next stable release, which will be version 5.0. There has been talk of releasing by September or in any case before the end of the year.
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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.