Branden Robinson bigraphy, stories - Leaders

Branden Robinson : biography


G. Branden Robinson is a Debian developer, known for his contributions to the packaging of the X Window System, and his tenure as the Debian Project Leader from April 2005 to April 2006.


Robinson has contributed to Debian since 1998. His most visible contribution is his long-time maintenance of the X Window System packages, which he took over from Mark W. Eichin by uploading the 3.3.2 release of the XFree86 packages on 1998-03-25. Before that time, other developers had tried (and failed) to create usable and efficient packages of the X Window System; they failed mostly because the X source is so large that it is too much work for one developer alone.

Robinson remedied this by founding the , a loosely knit group of developers who would assist him in finding and fixing bugs, testing X packages on architectures he doesn't have the hardware for, and similar things. Branden would, however, remain primarily responsible for the X packages, and would be the only person to upload packages. In founding the X Strike Force, Robinson in effect turned X into the first package maintained by a group of people, well before this was established and even recommended practice in the Debian project. Today, a large number of packages, including the KDE and GNOME desktops, are group-maintained, and the Release Managers recommend that developers maintain medium to large packages in groups. In 2004, Robinson turned the X Strike Force into a real maintainer group, with more than one person allowed to make uploads of the X system. As of 2007, Robinson makes little or no contribution to the X Strike Force.

Robinson has also held the position of Treasurer of Software in the Public Interest, Debian's legal umbrella organization, between 2001 and 2004.


Robinson was elected by his fellow developers in 2005, after running for the position five times between 2001 and 2005. He succeeded Martin Michlmayr, who had been elected project leader in 2003 and 2004. The 2005 election was peculiar because Robinson was joined by Andreas Schuldei and four other developers in the so-called Project Scud, by which they formed a team which would attempt to win the election, rather than a single nominee.

During Branden Robinson's term as a leader, the project achieved some incremental successes, such as a stable point release of stable by new release managers for that distribution, having AMD64 added to testing, and the inclusion of modular X in unstable.

For the 2006 elections, Robinson was not a candidate. It was won by Anthony Towns, who became the new DPL on April 18, 2006.

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