Proposal to fund Debian reveals debate about developers' motivations

A group of leading developers calling themselves Dunc-Tank is preparing to pay selected Debian developers to complete specific projects. But although Dunc-Tank's first goal is the practical one of ensuring that the next version of Debian is ready for its scheduled release, its announcement has also publicized a previously private debate about what happens when free software developers suddenly receive pay for what they are already doing for personal reasons.

In its first news release, Dunc-Tank describes itself as an "experiment" and its members as "an independent group of developers, users, and supporters of Debian." In fact, however, Dunc-Tank members are among the most active and prominent Debian developers. The news release announcing the group lists both Anthony Towns, the Debian Leader, and Steve McIntyre, assistant to the Debian Leader, among its supporters, as well as Raphaël Hertzog, Joey Hess, and Ted Ts'o -- all of whose names should be familiar to anyone who follows the Debian project. Ts'o is also a long-time kernel developer.

The report earlier this week:

New comments on the report: