Organization of the development team

This page documents how we intend to work as a team. It’s particularly relevant for developers paid by Freexian towards the achievement of the Freexian defined milestones, but can be useful for others too.


This documentation refers to a few different roles:

  • Developer: implements the requested features

  • Project manager: coordinates the team and the work

  • Architect: takes the biggest design decisions (interfaces, software’s structure, choices of technologies)

  • Community manager: manages relationships with Debian and other free software communities

Each team member can have multiple roles.

Project management

Work is planned in GitLab issues on the debusine repo.

The features of each milestone that are the focus of funding are tagged “STF”, grouped by milestone, and assigned a priority label (from P1 to P3). Supporting, related, and blocking issues are placed in milestones and prioritized the same way.

The project managers triage incoming issues, prioritising them as necessary. Issues will be selected into the current milestone by urgency, complexity and team capacity.

The project managers ensure that the backlog (aka issues labelled “next”) always contains issues that can be picked up by developers.

Issues that need design work before development are tagged “Design required”, queuing them up for the architects to do preliminary work on.

The project managers share regular status updates to the team.

Development workflow

The developers can self-assign issues from the “Next” column in the main development board and move them to the “In progress” column.

Other guidelines relative to development can be found in the sections Contribute to debusine and Coding practices.

You are encouraged to create draft merge requests quite early in your work, in particular when you have doubts about some design choices and would like to have feedback.

About code reviews

Code reviews are mandatory to get any significant code contribution merged. Developers should thus always submit merge requests for any non-trivial change.

Developers should prioritize code reviews over development work so as to not stall development work for others, and ensure timely and regular merge of new code.

All non-trivial merge requests (such as new features) have to be reviewed and approved by a core developer or architect. Initial code reviews can be picked up by anyone. We highly encourage everyone to do such code reviews so as to get familiar with more parts of the codebase. To avoid duplication of work, reviewers should mark themselves as such when they start a review.

If reviewers only review some aspect of the code, they should make that clear in their review comments. Developers should seek out extra reviewers as needed, based on the complexity of their change.

During code reviews, you should ensure that:

  • coding practices have been respected

  • the commit history is clean (good commit messages, meaningful split of commits, any fixup commit is clearly targeted to be autosquashed)

  • unit tests are meaningful and readable without (too much) duplication

  • the code actually implements the initial request

You can also suggest improvements and/or simplifications based on your own experience and knowledge of the codebase.

Coordination and communication tools

The bulk of the work happens asynchronously and transparently on GitLab issues and merge requests. But we have also have real time communication channels with IRC and Matrix.


Watching the whole project is not required. Depending on your preferences, you could however configure custom notifications to watch at least “New merge request” and “Merge merge request” events.

You also have the possibility to subscribe to issues with a specific label by clicking on the “Subscribe” button next to each label on the Labels page. Following “Design discussion” can be interesting if you want to contribute to the overall design.

IRC channels / Matrix

Presence on the #debusine IRC channel (or the corresponding Matrix room) is highly recommended to facilitate real time cooperation and coordination. For instance, it can be used to share the work load of code reviews, so that they are spread across all developers. It can also be used to avoid code conflicts when two developers are working on related parts.

The #debusine-notifications IRC channel (or the corresponding Matrix room) offers an alternate way to consume the GitLab-based notifications (pushes, merge requests, issues).

Current team organization

People in bold are the main actors for each role. The others are in support or as backup when the main person is not available.

  • Core developers

    • Carles Pina

    • Colin Watson

    • Enrico Zini

    • Jochen Sprickerhof

    • Stefano Rivera

    • Sylvain Beucler

  • Project manager

    • Stefano Rivera

    • Colin Watson

    • Raphaël Hertzog

  • Architect

    • Colin Watson

    • Raphaël Hertzog

  • Community manager

    • Enrico Zini

    • Stefano Rivera