Healthy CDDs

Strategies for building a Custom Debian Distribution

DebConf 8, Mar del Plata, 12. August 2008


The talk will give an overview of the status of the Debian-Med project and how it could work as an example for other CDDs. Considering that specific things about medical software is of quite low interest for the DebConf audience the main focus of the talk will be the way from a one-man idea to a fully grown team that is working contiuosely to enhance Debian for a specific user group. Experiences are shared how good tools and reasonable managemend can help to attract people - users and developers.

The Debian-Med CDD was started in January 2002 and has evolved a lot since this time. Debian now becomes the distribution of choice for people who are working in the field of medicine. On the one hand this can be obtained from the increase of pure numbers of packages in the field of medicine.

On the other hand - which is even more interesting for general Debian development - a group was formed that has developed a certain way of cooperation which might serve as an example for other teams. Debian knows a lot of technical teams focussing onto technical issues (pkg-perl, pkg-python, d-i, etc.). An important part of the project is to involve people who call themselves "pure users" or "non-developers" (whatever this might mean) as it is done at a certain amount by the i18n and Debian Edu team.

So this talk is not about boring the audience by mentioning medical Free Software - it exists at a certain amount out there as other specific software does as well - but rather how to attract people to a topic where FLOSS is not common but should. It will give examples for our way to advertise Free Software in medicine which is heavily dominated by proprietary software, which tools we developed inside the CDD framework to be always up to date with our web pages that are intended to attract users to Debian and last but not least the lessons we have learned in the project that might be of high interest for other CDDs (or potential CDDs). Examples are given for project management, attracting people by working techniques and making sure that medical software finds a good home in Debian.