Historical version of the Constitution for the Debian Project (v1.3)
Version 1.3 ratified on September 24th, 2006. Supersedes Version 1.2
ratified on October 29th, 2003 and Version 1.1 ratified on June 21st,
2003, which itself supersedes Version 1.0 ratified on December 2nd,
1998. That was superseded by the current version, 1.4 ratified on
October 7th, 2007.
The Debian Project is an association of individuals who have made
common cause to create a free operating system.
This document describes the organisational structure for formal
decision-making in the Project. It does not describe the goals of the
Project or how it achieves them, or contain any policies except those
directly related to the decision-making process.
2. Decision-making bodies and individuals
Each decision in the Project is made by one or more of the following:
1. The Developers, by way of General Resolution or an election;
2. The Project Leader;
3. The Technical Committee and/or its Chairman;
4. The individual Developer working on a particular task;
5. Delegates appointed by the Project Leader for specific tasks;
6. The Project Secretary.
Most of the remainder of this document will outline the powers of these
bodies, their composition and appointment, and the procedure for their
decision-making. The powers of a person or body may be subject to
review and/or limitation by others; in this case the reviewing body or
person's entry will state this. In the list above, a person or body is
usually listed before any people or bodies whose decisions they can
overrule or who they (help) appoint - but not everyone listed earlier
can overrule everyone listed later.
2.1. General rules
1. Nothing in this constitution imposes an obligation on anyone to do
work for the Project. A person who does not want to do a task which
has been delegated or assigned to them does not need to do it.
However, they must not actively work against these rules and
decisions properly made under them.
2. A person may hold several posts, except that the Project Leader,
Project Secretary and the Chairman of the Technical Committee must
be distinct, and that the Leader cannot appoint themselves as their
3. A person may leave the Project or resign from a particular post
they hold, at any time, by stating so publicly.
3. Individual Developers
An individual Developer may
1. make any technical or nontechnical decision with regard to their
2. propose or sponsor draft General Resolutions;
3. propose themselves as a Project Leader candidate in elections;
4. vote on General Resolutions and in Leadership elections.
3.2. Composition and appointment
1. Developers are volunteers who agree to further the aims of the
Project insofar as they participate in it, and who maintain
package(s) for the Project or do other work which the Project
Leader's Delegate(s) consider worthwhile.
2. The Project Leader's Delegate(s) may choose not to admit new
Developers, or expel existing Developers. If the Developers feel
that the Delegates are abusing their authority they can of course
override the decision by way of General Resolution - see §4.1(3),
Developers may make these decisions as they see fit.
4. The Developers by way of General Resolution or election
Together, the Developers may:
1. Appoint or recall the Project Leader.
2. Amend this constitution, provided they agree with a 3:1 majority.
3. Make or override any decision authorised by the powers of the
Project Leader or a Delegate.
4. Make or override any decision authorised by the powers of the
Technical Committee, provided they agree with a 2:1 majority.
5. Issue, supersede and withdraw nontechnical policy documents and
These include documents describing the goals of the project, its
relationship with other free software entities, and nontechnical
policies such as the free software licence terms that Debian
software must meet.
They may also include position statements about issues of the day.
1. A Foundation Document is a document or statement regarded as
critical to the Project's mission and purposes.
2. The Foundation Documents are the works entitled "Debian Social
Contract" and "Debian Free Software Guidelines".
3. A Foundation Document requires a 3:1 majority for its
supersession. New Foundation Documents are issued and existing
ones withdrawn by amending the list of Foundation Documents in
6. Make decisions about property held in trust for purposes related to
Debian. (See §9.).
7. In case of a disagreement between the project leader and the
incumbent secretary, appoint a new secretary.
1. The Developers follow the Standard Resolution Procedure, below. A
resolution or amendment is introduced if proposed by any Developer
and sponsored by at least K other Developers, or if proposed by the
Project Leader or the Technical Committee.
2. Delaying a decision by the Project Leader or their Delegate:
1. If the Project Leader or their Delegate, or the Technical
Committee, has made a decision, then Developers can override
them by passing a resolution to do so; see §4.1(3).
2. If such a resolution is sponsored by at least 2K Developers,
or if it is proposed by the Technical Committee, the
resolution puts the decision immediately on hold (provided
that resolution itself says so).
3. If the original decision was to change a discussion period or
a voting period, or the resolution is to override the
Technical Committee, then only K Developers need to sponsor
the resolution to be able to put the decision immediately on
4. If the decision is put on hold, an immediate vote is held to
determine whether the decision will stand until the full vote
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