08.22.20

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On DebConf (and Other Conferences) as Potential Facilitator of Bribes From Microsoft

Posted in Debian, Finance, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 6:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Selected pages from the new report [PDF] reproduced below:

SPI report sample page #1

SPI report sample page #2

SPI report sample page #3

SPI report sample page #4

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SPI report sample page #6

SPI report sample page #7

SPI report sample page #8

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SPI report sample page #11

SPI report sample page #12

Summary: An expression of concern about Debian opening up to funds from companies that clearly and blatantly oppose the Debian Project (or in the process of co-opting it)

“Here is something interesting,” a reader told us yesterday, “not sure if you have come across this yet. No application online at SPI these days. States to email the membership email.”

“The costs may vary depending on the location of the event and the developers (e.g. European developers, event in South America), but notice how travel spendings grew 40 times bigger in just a couple of years.”This is about Software in the Public Interest (SPI). We wrote about Microsoft's role in relation to SPI some months ago, quoting one reader (not the same as above) who said “Microsoft is regularly listed as a DebConf sponsor since 2016″ (their logo shows up in https://debconf19.debconf.org/, https://debconf18.debconf.org/, https://debconf17.debconf.org/ and in https://debconf16.debconf.org/). Debian became more censorious in recent years. Debian’s funding is apparently somewhat of an unspeakable topic these days.

“DebConf numbers,” according to what we were told yesterday, “coincide with statements regarding conferences used as bribery…”

Well, as per SPI [PDF] (we’ve examined this document, with a breakdown of about a million dollars in 2019):

DebConf17:
2,950.86 Travel

DebConf18
11,779.66 Travel

DebConf19
781.90 Banking fees
23,445.87 Conferences
122.11 IT
132,833.61 Travel

The costs may vary depending on the location of the event and the developers (e.g. European developers, event in South America), but notice how travel spendings grew 40 times bigger in just a couple of years.

“We’re still investigating the matter…”“Talk about a huge increase,” our reader noted. “Maybe the money they took in was more during the timeframe of DebConf19… or maybe… it’s something else. Not sure.”

We’re still investigating the matter; that’s not to say Debian is corrupt or anything (my wife and I both use Debian “Buster” on our main machines), but clarity/clarifications would help. The new Debian Project Leader (DPL) seems sincere and he has averted scandals/confrontations thus far, so maybe we’ll inquire politely; we urge readers to consider doing the same.

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