Neil McGovern is the new leader of the Debian open source/free software project after defeating two rival contenders in a vote held among developers that closed on Wednesday. He takes over from Lucas Nussbaum, who did not seek re-election after two years at the helm.
McGovern, who lives in England, is an engineering manager at open-source consultancy and development firm Collabora, and has been a Debian developer since 2005. He ran unsuccessfully for project leader last year.
Debian, around since 1993, is a free computer operating system and Linux distribution that comes with thousands of complementary software packages.
McGovern’s stated platform for the guidance of the project centers on maintaining open channels of communication among developers, modernizing Debian’s package infrastructure, and facilitating other contributions to development. He also pledged to spend some of the nearly $300,000 in donated funds “to make the project more successful.”
Debian is well-known for its extensive and thoroughly regulated system of governance, a part of which is the annual election of a new project leader via a modified Condorcet voting system. (Essentially, developers rank their preferred candidates in order, and the candidate that would beat all the others in a two-way race is the winner. A detailed explanation is available here on Wikipedia.
As the foundation for some of the most popular and widely used distributions out there, including Ubuntu and Mint, Debian’s importance to the broader Linux community is difficult to overstate. The project’s bitter internal debates over the use of the systemd init system stirred media interest, and highlighted its uniquely democratic nature. (That issue was eventually settled in favor of systemd by a dev vote.)
McGovern’s challengers for the leadership were Mehdi Dogguy, a technical manager for French power company EDF, and Gergely Nagy, a self-described hacker who goes by “Algernon.”