About the process

The Debian New Member process is the process of becoming an official Debian Developer (DD). These webpages are the place where prospective Debian Developers can find all the details on applying to become a DD, the different steps of the process, and how to track the process of their ongoing application.

The first important point to make is that you do not need to be an official Debian Developer in order to help improving Debian. In fact, you should already have a track record of earlier contributions to Debian before you apply for the New Member process.

Debian is an open community and welcomes everyone who wants to use or help improve our distribution. As a non-developer you can:

  1. maintain packages through a sponsor

  2. create and/or review translations
  3. create or improve documentation
  4. help maintain the website

  5. help with handling bugs (by providing patches, filing good bugs, confirming the existence of the bug, finding ways to reproduce the problem, ...)
  6. be an active member of a packaging team (e.g. debian-qt-kde or debian-gnome)
  7. be an active member of a subproject (e.g. debian-installer or debian-desktop)
  8. etc

The Debian Developer's Reference contains several concrete suggestions on how to do several of these tasks (in particular, how to find willing sponsors).

The Debian New Member process is the process of becoming an official Debian Developer (DD). This is the traditional full membership role in Debian. A DD can participate in Debian elections. Uploading DDs can upload any package to the archive. Before applying as an uploading DD you should have a track record of maintaining packages for at least six months. For example uploading packages as a Debian Maintainer (DM), working inside a team or maintaining packages uploaded by sponsors. Non-uploading DDs have the same permissions in the archive as Debian Maintainers. Before applying as non-uploading DD, you should have a visible and significant track record of work inside the project.

It is important to understand that the New Member process is part of Debian's Quality Assurance efforts. It is hard to find developers who can spend enough time on their Debian tasks, so we find it important to checking that applicants are able to sustain their work, and do it well. Therefore we require that prospective members have been actively involved in Debian for some time already.

Every Debian Developer:

  1. is member of the Debian project;
  2. is allowed to vote about issues regarding the whole project;
  3. can log in on most systems that keep Debian running;
  4. has upload permissions for all packages (except non-uploading Developers, who have the upload rights of a DM);
  5. has access to the debian-private mailing list.

In other words, becoming a Debian Developer grants you several important privileges regarding the project's infrastructure. Obviously this requires a great deal of trust in and commitment by the applicant.

Consequently the whole NM process is very strict and thorough. This is not meant to discourage people interested in becoming a registered developer, but it does explain why the New Member process takes so much time.


All the steps described after have a specific dedicated page that can be reached through the New Member Checklist, or via the links in each step.

To become a project member, or Debian Developer, the following steps are generally required:

Step 0: Request a change of status

To become a Developer, an Applicant has to register themselves against the New Member Site, and request a change of status. This is generally already done as an Applicant is, in general, already a Debian Maintainer.

More info here.

Step 1: Application

The Applicant will submit on the New Member Site an intend to become a Debian Developer. This consists in a signed statement.

More info here.

Step 2: Commitments

The second step is a commitment from the Applicant to follow the guidelines of the Debian Social Contract and the Debian Machine Usage Policies. This is also done through a signed statement

More info here.

Step 3: Advocacies

The third step of the New Member process is to get advocated by at least one other Member of the Project, ideally more. These Members, through their advocacy are certifying that the Applicant is trustworthy to get the rights a Member has towards the Project.

They do so by submitting themselves signed statements on the Applicant's New Member Process page.

More info here.

Advocating an Applicant

Every application to become a Debian Developer must be advocated by an existing Debian Developer who is familiar with the applicant's work, and who believes that he/she is of a suitable standard both technically and socially.

 Why do you advocate this person? (please provide a 5-10 line summary).

  You are encouraged to take questions such as the following into account
 but you're not limited to answering these:
 - How have they contributed to Debian already?
 - What do they intend to do for Debian in the future?
 - How do they interact with others, such as users and other members?

Step 4: Identification

The fourth step is an identification of the Developer through a OpenPGP key. This OpenPGP key has to meet some requirements, like being signed by at least two Debian Developers, bearing the actual identity of the person (one can use a pseudonymous OpenPGP key in certain circumstances, but building trust of identity in that case may be a bit harder).

When the criteria are met, the Front Desk will confirm that step and allow the next step to take place.

More info here.

Step 5: The Application Manager

When all previous steps are confirmed, the Front Desk will assign an Application Manager to the Applicant. This Application Manager will gather the needed elements to confirm the point made by the Applicant's advocates and confirm whether or not the Applicant should become a Member of the Project. These elements are recorded in the Applicant's New Member Process, and when the Application Manager considers he has enough, he sends a signed statement on the Process to either recommend or advise against the application.

In particular, the Application Manager will:

More info here.

Step 6: Debian Account Managers review

After all these steps are done, the Debian Account Managers will review the whole process and decide whether they agree on the Application or not. Their decision is deemed final. In general, an Applicant having completed all previous steps shouldn't meet a rejection except on very rare circumstances.

Step 7: Account Creation and Keyring update

After the Debian Account Managers decided to accept your Application, they ask to the Debian System Administrators to create a LDAP account to the Applicant, and the Keyring Maintainers to update the Debian Keyring accordingly to include the Applicant's OpenPGP key in the appropriate part.

Though the process is done as soon as the Account Manager approves it, it's technically done when both these two last things are done. The Keyring update being generally done monthly, it can take some time between the end of a process and the effective inclusion of an Applicant in the infrastructure.