Debian MIA: Raiders of the "Lost" Maintainer

Dec 07, 2007

Debian project maintainers who just stop maintaining their software packages and fail to respond to mail are a big problem for the free Linux distribution. Now, Debian is introducing new rules to resolve the issue.

This was the decision taken by the Debian Quality Assurance (QA) team that met last week in Merida, Spain. The MIA team is responsible for volunteer Debian developers who go “missing in action” .

Now, whenever somebody reports a Debian developer as inactive to the MIA database, the following process applies. The team first sends a friendly mail to the “missing person” and waits 15 days for a response. The message is then repeated, after all, the original message might have gone astray. After another 15 days, the team sends another package that the team is considering tagging the Debian package as orphaned. The maintainer then has 30 days to respond before the team actually explicitly threatens to tag the package as orphaned. After another 15 days the package is then finally classified as orphaned, and after another 90 days, the Debian project sends a goodbye mail to the ex-developer.

The MIA project is quick to point out that sending mails to Debian developers is not its only purpose in life: it also happy to help volunteers to secure more help for package maintenance. The MIA database is non-public as it contains personal data.

The MIA Team is still looking for Debian developers interested in helping out. For more information, refer to the chapter Debian Developer Documentation

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