Lucas Nussbaum Voted New Leader Of The Debian Project

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Assistant professor of computer science from University of Lorraine to oversee the development of Debian OS for the next year

Lucas Nussbaum, a 31-year old assistant professor of computer science from the University of Lorraine, France, was voted in as the 15th leader of the Debian Project this weekend.

He beat Gergely Nagy, a student of Hungarian philology and literature, and Moray Allan, a Scotland-based freelance technology consultant with a PhD in machine learning and 24 years of experience in programming.

Nussbaum hopes to reinforce Debian’s central position in the Free Software ecosystem, whilst improving accessibility and reducing the barriers to contribution.

Under new management

Debian is an open source project that aspires to create a free, multi-purpose operating system based on the Linux kernel and GNU OS components. This year, it will celebrate its 20th birthday.

debian_logoIn the latest election, 390 out of 988 registered Debian developers voted – a small turnout by the standards of parliamentary democracy, but sufficient to decide who will be managing the Debian project for the next year.

Nussbaum has been using free software since 1997 and started contributing to Debian in 2005. When he’s not writing code, he teaches free software and Debian programming as part of the system administration curriculum.

Over the years, the newly-elected leader has maintained Ruby packages for the open source OS, filed over 7000 release-critical bugs and worked to improve the relationship with Canonical – developers of the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution – to get some improvements seen in Ubuntu into Debian.

“Overall, most of my Debian contributions aim at addressing problems at the distribution scale (QA, data-mining), and at enhancing collaboration and communication (with new contributors, with derivative distributions),” said Nussbaum about his work.

His personal research at University of Lorraine has been focused on distributed systems and emulation, and regularly published in various academic journals.

Addressing voters before the election, Nussbaum said there was “no foreseeable big Debian crisis”. However, he was worried the project was loosing momentum, and saw the need to reinforce Debian’s position “in the centre of the Free Software ecosystem” and make it more attractive to end-users.

“For example, we have been providing a fairly good rolling release for almost 13 years with testing, but we totally fail at advertising it as something supported and usable by end users,” wrote Nussbaum in his Platform statement.

He proposes to improve developer documentation, simplify development practices and improve sponsorship infrastructure in order to make Debian more popular among both developers and users.

The new project leader will replace Stefano Zacchiroli, the man who has been managing Debian for the last three years, but didn’t stand for re-election. Nussbaum will start his new position on 17 April and leave on teh same day in 2014.

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