Anthony Towns Withdraws from Debian Projects

May 09, 2008

Long-standing Debian developer and former Project Leader Anthony Towns has said that he is withdrawing from current projects. The reasons seem to be a disagreement on distribution of tasks within the free Linux distribution.

In a short note titled "On freedom", Towns announces his departure in his blog. He writes: "One of the freedoms I value is the freedom to choose what you spend your time on and who you spend it with. ." Towns refers to Statute 2.1.1 of the Debian Constitution, which states that anyone can withdraw or refuse tasks: "A person who does not want to do a task which has been delegated or assigned to them does not need to do it." It is hard to say whether Towns is referring to himself or making a suggestion to other Debian developers as Towns wrote the announcement immediately after the retiring Debian project leader Sam Hocevar assigned a couple of tasks within the free operating system. Among other things he appointed Jörg Jaspert as the FTP Master and gave him full Debian Account Manager credentials. Towns links to this posting in his blog adding a comment: "And while I’ve spent a lot of time arguing that people in key roles in Debian still have those freedoms (hey, 2.1(1), don’t you know), reality these days seems to be otherwise." Hocevar's list entry finishes with the words "These delegations are effective until revoked by the DPL or by a resolution.”

At first, Jaspert responded to the appointment in his blog by publicly expressing doubt as to whether he should accept the responsibilities, forecasting criticism of his appointment and stating that he had been asked not accept. Speaking about the reasons for this request, he writes: "Mostly on the grounds that it is not nice to force new team members into an existing team, and that it is not a good environment to work in, if a DPL can do that if he feels like proving a point." In the meantime, Jaspert decided to accept the position. In a later entry he says: "I’ve got some pressure to not accept this delegation, but the response to my blog post about it had been extremely positive". As a Debian Account Manager, Jaspert can create and delete developer accounts to reflect the project's needs. He confirms Anthony Towns withdrawal (referring to him as "Aj" on the Debian page) by saying: “Aj resigned from anything that requires additional group privileges.”

The prominent developer Towns closes his posting on his withdrawal from the project with the words: "Best of luck, and I hope y’all accept patches." So it does seem that he will continue to contribute to Debian development, although not as profusely as in former times.

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