This document describes the organisational structure for formal decisionmaking in the Project. It does not describe the goals of the Project or how it achieves them, or contain any policies except those directly related to the decisionmaking process.
Nothing in this constitution imposes an obligation on anyone to do work for the Project. A person who does not want to do a task which has been delegated or assigned to them does not need to do it. However, they must not actively work against these rules and decisions properly made under them.
A person may hold several posts, except that the Project Leader, Project Secretary and the Chairman of the Technical Committee must be distinct, and that the Leader cannot appoint themselves as their own Delegate.
A person may leave the Project or resign from a particular post they hold, at any time, by stating so publicly.
Developers are volunteers who agree to further the aims of the Project insofar as they participate in it, and who maintain package(s) for the Project or do other work which the Project Leader's Delegate(s) consider worthwhile.
The Project Leader's Delegate(s) may choose not to admit new Developers, or expel existing Developers. If the Developers feel that the Delegates are abusing their authority they can of course override the decision by way of General Resolution - see s.4.1(3), s.4.2.
Appoint or recall the Project Leader.
Amend this constitution, provided they agree with a 3:1 majority.
Override any decision by the Project Leader or a Delegate.
Override any decision by the Technical Committee, provided they agree with a 2:1 majority.
Issue nontechnical policy documents and statements.
These include documents describing the goals of the project, its relationship with other free software entities, and nontechnical policies such as the free software licence terms that Debian software must meet.
They may also include position statements about issues of the day.
Together with the Project Leader and SPI, make decisions about property held in trust for purposes related to Debian. (See s.9.1.)
The Developers follow the Standard Resolution Procedure, below. A resolution or amendment is introduced if proposed by any Developer and seconded by at least K other Developers, or if proposed by the Project Leader or the Technical Committee.
Delaying a decision by the Project Leader or their Delegate:
Votes are taken by the Project Secretary. Votes and tallies results are not be revealed during the voting period; after the vote the Project Secretary lists all the votes cast. The voting period is 2 weeks, but may be varied by up to 1 week by the Project Leader, and may be ended by the Project Secretary when the outcome of a vote is no longer in doubt.
The minimum discussion period is 2 weeks, but may be varied by up to 1 week by the Project Leader. The Project Leader has a casting vote. There is a quorum of 3Q.
Proposals, seconds, amendments, calls for votes and other formal actions are made by announcement on a publicly-readable electronic mailing list designated by the Project Leader's Delegate(s); any Developer may post there.
Votes are cast by email in a manner suitable to the Secretary. The Secretary determines for each poll whether voters can change their votes.
Q is half of the square root of the number of current Developers. K is Q or 5, whichever is the smaller. Q and K need not be integers and are not rounded.
The Leader may define an area of ongoing responsibility or a specific decision and hand it over to another Developer or to the Technical Committee.
Once a particular decision has been delegated and made the Project Leader may not withdraw that delegation; however, they may withdraw an ongoing delegation of particular area of responsibility.
Lend authority to other Developers.
The Project Leader may make statements of support for points of view or for other members of the project, when asked or otherwise; these statements have force if and only if the Leader would be empowered to make the decision in question.
Make any decision which requires urgent action.
This does not apply to decisions which have only become gradually urgent through lack of relevant action, unless there is a fixed deadline.
Make any decision for whom noone else has responsibility.
Propose draft General Resolutions and amendments.
Together with the Technical Committee, appoint new members to the Committee. (See s.6.2.)
The Project Leader also has a normal vote in such ballots.
Vary the discussion period for Developers' votes (as above).
Lead discussions amongst Developers.
The Project Leader should attempt to participate in discussions amongst the Developers in a helpful way which seeks to bring the discussion to bear on the key issues at hand. The Project Leader should not use the Leadership position to promote their own personal views.
Together with SPI, make decisions affecting property held in trust for purposes related to Debian. (See s.9.1.)
The Project Leader should attempt to make decisions which are consistent with the consensus of the opinions of the Developers.
Where practical the Project Leader should informally solicit the views of the Developers.
The Project Leader should avoid overemphasizing their own point of view when making decisions in their capacity as Leader.
This includes the contents of the technical policy manuals, developers' reference materials, example packages and the behaviour of non-experimental package building tools. (In each case the usual maintainer of the relevant software or documentation makes decisions initially, however; see 6.3(5).)
In cases where Developers need to implement compatible technical policies or stances (for example, if they disagree about the priorities of conflicting packages, or about ownership of a command name, or about which package is responsible for a bug that both maintainers agree is a bug, or about who should be the maintainer for a package) the technical committee may decide the matter.
Make a decision when asked to do so.
Any person or body may delegate a decision of their own to the Technical Committee, or seek advice from it.
Overrule a Developer (requires a 3:1 majority).
The Technical Committee may ask a Developer to take a particular technical course of action even if the Developer does not wish to; this requires a 3:1 majority. For example, the Committee may determine that a complaint made by the submitter of a bug is justified and that the submitter's proposed solution should be implemented.
The Technical Committee may make formal announcements about its views on any matter. Individual members may of course make informal statements about their views and about the likely views of the committee.
Together with the Project Leader, appoint new members to itself or remove existing members. (See s.6.2.)
Appoint the Chairman of the Technical Committee.
The Chairman is elected by the Committee from its members. All members of the committee are automatically nominated; the committee vote starting one week before the post will become vacant (or immediately, if it is already too late). The members may vote by public acclamation for any fellow committee member, including themselves; there is no None Of The Above option. The vote finishes when all the members have voted or when the outcome is no longer in doubt. The result is determined according to Concorde Vote Counting.
As detailed in s.7.1(2), the Chairman of the Technical Committee and the Project Secretary may together stand in for the Leader if there is no Leader.
The Technical Committee consists of up to 8 Developers, and should usually have at least 4 members.
When there are fewer than 8 members the Technical Committee may recommend new member(s) to the Project Leader, who may choose (individually) to appoint them or not.
When there are 5 members or fewer the Technical Committee may appoint new member(s) until the number of members reaches 6.
When there have been 5 members or fewer for at least one week the Project Leader may appoint new member(s) until the number of members reaches 6, at intervals of at least one week per appointment.
If the Technical Committee and the Project Leader agree they may remove or replace an existing member of the Technical Committee.
A draft resolution or amendment may be proposed by any member of the Technical Committee. There is no minimum discussion period; the voting period lasts for up to one week, or until the outcome is no longer in doubt. Members may change their votes. There is a quorum of two.
The Chairman has a casting vote. When the Technical Committee votes whether to override a Developer who also happens to be a member of the Committee, that member may not vote (unless they are the Chairman, in which case they may use only their casting vote).
Discussion, draft resolutions and amendments, and votes by members of the committee, are made public on the Technical Committee public discussion list. There is no separate secretary for the Committee.
The Technical Committee may hold confidential discussions via private email or a private mailing list or other means to discuss appointments to the Committee. However, votes on appointments must be public.
The Technical Committee does not engage in design of new proposals and policies. Such design work should be carried out by individuals privately or together and discussed in ordinary technical policy and design forums.
The Technical Committee restricts itself to choosing from or adopting compromises between solutions and decisions which have been proposed and reasonably thoroughly discussed elsewhere.
Individual members of the technical committee may of course participate on their own behalf in any aspect of design and policy work.
The Technical Committee does not make a technical decision until efforts to resolve it via consensus have been tried and failed, unless it has been asked to make a decision by the person or body who would normally be responsible for it.
Takes votes amongst the Developers, and determines the number and identity of Developers, whenever this is required by the constitution.
Can stand in for the Leader, together with the Chairman of the Technical Committee.
If there is no Project Leader then the Chairman of the Technical Committee and the Project Secretary may by joint agreement make decisions if they consider it imperative to do so.
Adjudicates any disputes about interpretation of the constitution.
May delegate part or all of their authority to someone else, or withdraw such a delegation at any time.
The Project Secretary is appointed by the Project Leader and the current Project Secretary.
If the Project Leader and the current Project Secretary cannot agree on a new appointment they must ask the board of SPI to appoint a Secretary.
If there is no Project Secretary or the current Secretary is unavailable and has not delegated authority for a decision then the decision may be made or delegated by the Chairman of the Technical Committee, as Acting Secretary.
The Project Secretary's term of office is 1 year, at which point they or another Secretary must be (re)appointed.
When acting together to stand in for an absent Project Leader the Chairman of the Technical Committee and the Project Secretary should make decisions only when absolutely necessary and only when consistent with the consensus of the Developers.
SPI have made the following undertakings:
A seconder of a resolution or amendment (unless it has been accepted) may withdraw.
If the withdrawal of the proposer and/or seconders means that a resolution has no proposer or not enough seconders it will not be voted on unless this is rectified before the resolution expires.