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Debian Subproject HOWTO
Chapter 2 - Planning to form a Debian subproject

I will take it as a given that you are reading this document because you have already identified some need for a Debian subproject, and you are eager to get started. In this chapter, I will discuss the some things to start thinking about before your group even gets started. It is important to have a clear idea where you're heading and how you're going to get there before you launch into this adventure.

2.1 Leadership

Are you the right person for the job? This is a question that I initially faced with uncertainty. I don't know if I really seriously considered it in the beginning. All I knew is that I had an idea that Debian should be an operating system my children want to use, and that we could work on making it better for them. At this stage, I had not even thought of making it a Debian subproject, let alone being the leader. However, as I discussed this with my peers, it soon became evident that if I wanted this idea to be put into action, I was the guy who needed to run with it.

2.2 Defining the subproject scope

It is as important to decide what your group is not going to do as it is what it is going to do. While I can't address your group's specific goals, I can give some hints from my experience with Debian Jr.

2.2.1 Working with similar projects

2.2.2 Relationship to other Debian subprojects

2.2.3 Do what you do best

2.3 Initial discussion

By the time you have begun to think about forming the subproject, have made the commitment to lead it, and have sketched out a bit of where you want to go and how you'll get there, you have likely already done some informal discussion with your peers. It is time, if you haven't already, to take these ideas to the broader Debian developer community, opening discussion on the creation of your group.

2.3.1 Calling all developers

At this stage, you will want to reach as broad an audience as possible. You have carefully thought out what you're going to do, and are able to articulate it to Debian as a whole. Let everyone know through the debian-devel-announce@lists.debian.org mailing list, setting the Reply-to: debian-devel@lists.debian.org and listen to what everyone has to say about your idea. You may learn some valuable things about pitfalls that may lie ahead for your group. Maybe even show-stoppers at that. You may also find a number of like-minded individuals who are willing to join your group and help get it established.

2.3.2 Steering the discussion

It's all too easy to get lost in ever-branching-out subthreads at this point. Many people will be firing off ideas left, right and centre about what your group should do. Don't worry too much about containing the discussion and keeping it on track with your main idea. You would rather not squelch enthusiasm at this point. But do try to steer the discussion a bit, focusing on the ideas that are central to your subproject and not getting lost in the details.

At some point, you'll decide you've heard enough, and you're ready to get down to the business of starting your group.

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Debian Subproject HOWTO

12 February 2003
Ben Armstrong synrg@debian.org