gnome foundation: some key issues to discuss.

Hi everyone,

To facilitate our discussion, I have identified 4 issues about which I'd
love to get feedback:

1) Reach consensus on the mission of the Foundation.  Havoc's summary, and
my summary from the San Diego meeting, include a proposed mission.  We need
to make sure there's rough consensus around that.  Your opinion?

2) What's all this about modules?  In the Apache model, there's an Apache
Foundation and then 5 or so autonomous projects, such as the HTTP server
project.  The foundation's only power is that they can decide whether a
project is still a part of the foundation.  So similarly, there are
currently a ton of projects under the broad Gnome umbrella.  These projects
are and will remain fully autonomous: the Gnome Foundation doesn't have any
power to tell those groups what to do, but surely the Foundation will
identify an overall direction for Gnome and communicate with maintainers of
packages to get their support in pursuing that direction.  So the question
is: do we want to keep today's structure with tons of projects, some really
modest, some pretty big, or do we want to somehow group projects into
modules? My personal opinion is that today's structure seems to work
reasonably well, so I don't see the need for intermediate groupings into
modules, but I think others feel differently.

3) Elections: do we want to have elections for the board of directors of the
Gnome foundation?  If so, how do we decide who gets to vote?  I think
there's rough consensus that all active Gnome hackers and a number of
non-hacker contributors to Gnome should get to vote, but there'll be some
problems at the edges: what about a package maintainer who hasn't done much
lately; or what about someone like me, who's not a hacker and has a
corporate affiliation?  So we need a system to address that.  The question
of whether to have elections at all is a more interesting one, in my
opinion: we may want to have a finely balanced group of people representing
different geographic areas, some corporate affilitions, the major
technologies of Gnome.  Chances are, an open election may not generate the
perfect group, and some people who'd be really terrific for a board may not
wish to go through an election process.  My current thinking is that it may
be better to have indirect elections, such as: the Gnome community votes up
or down on a proposed slate (and if a slate gets voted down, we have some
plan B process),   Jim Gettys suggested we look at the IETF's nominating
process (I have asked him to explain it to us in greater detail).

4) Geography: the Gnome community is a very cosmopolitan one, and a lot of
people want to make sure it doesn't become dominated by one geographic zone
(ie. the US).   On the other hand, the Gnome 'industry', at least for now,
seems to be mostly in the US and there are a number of major industry
leaders who are getting ready to embrace Gnome, and they need a US legal
entity that provides them shelter from US antitrust laws (for
example: Oracle and Informix can't go sit in a smoke filled room and talk
about how to develop the market for database software - that would be an
antitrust violation).  There is really no international legal entity (except
for a few UN chartered organizations).  So I think we need to create a
foundation that's incorporated in the US.  But I think the board of the
foundation should be representative of the entire Gnome community.  And I
also think it's a good thing to have affiliated organizations around the
world, such as the Gnome Foundation Europe.  But I think at the end of the
day, we do need a place that can speak with authority on behalf of Gnome,
and I think this foundation should be that place.  Your thoughts?

There are also a ton of logistical issues to figure out, such as drafting
the bylaws for the foundation, but happily the folks are working
on that.

The goal of all this:
To reach rough consensus about how the foundation should operate and to be
able to announce it to the world on August 15, at LWE.


Havoc Pennington wrote:

> Hi,
> Here's my summary of what people are thinking right now, and what
> needs to be discussed. Please follow up if I left anything out or got
> anything wrong.
> As Bart mentioned on gnome-hackers, at USENIX a number of individuals
> and companies met to talk about the issues, and of course the GNOME
> steering committee has been working on it as well. This mail basically
> summarizes the consensus reached by those who've been involved so
> far.
> Now we need to get more people involved in discussing the issues, and
> try to build a wider consensus. In addition, many details remain to be
> decided. So, that's the goal of this mailing list. Nothing mentioned
> in this mail is set in stone yet.
> Purpose of the foundation
> ===
>  Maciej reported this from the USENIX meeting:
>   "In brief, it should provide a means of setting overall
>   technical direction, foster collaboration and communication among
>   developers (including setting up appropriate resources for this),
>   help coordinate marketing, manage money and other resources for the
>   GNOME project, and provide a forum where corporations that want to
>   get involved can communicate with the GNOME project and with each
>   other."
> This last point may require explanation. Apparently many large
> corporations need an official organization within which to cooperate;
> otherwise there are legal concerns, such as antitrust
> regulations. Thus we must have an organization which is a US legal
> entity for these corporations to participate.
> Bart Decrem's summary of the goals, just to get another phrasing in:
>  "We came up with the idea of creating a Gnome Foundation that would have
>   4 main goals:
>   1.  Providing a forum to determine the overall technical direction of
>       Gnome
>   2.  Promoting Gnome
>   3.  Foster collaboration and communication among Gnome developers
>   4.  Manage funds donated to the Gnome project"
> Structure
> ===
> The structure is loosely based on the Apache Software Foundation
> structure. Some general features of the proposed foundation:
>  - a board of directors (replacing the current steering committee)
>    would represent the project in discussions with companies and
>    that sort of thing. Their only real "power" will be to say
>    which modules are part of GNOME.
>  - the group will be membership-based, where members vote on
>    the board of directors and also vote on major issues.
>    We will need some way to select the initial membership;
>    additional members will be added by a vote of the current members.
>  - each module (such as gnome-core, or Evolution) will have an
>    "official contact maintainer" that is responsible for communicating
>    with the GNOME Foundation
>  - each module is self-governing and figures out its own internal
>    organization
>  - corporations can't be members, but some members may represent the
>    interests of corporations. In effect this means that if
>    corporations fund major contributors to GNOME, they'll get a
>    voice in the foundation via those contributors.
>  - we incorporate the foundation in the US, for legal reasons
>    mentioned above. However, the membership and board of directors
>    will be international, and we'll have associated foundations
>    in other countries for tax purposes, if people want to set those
>    up.
> One of the big issues is how to select the initial membership and set
> of modules. Also, the voting process has to be worked out.
> Notable non-features of the foundation:
>  - it is not an industry consortium
>  - it will not hire developers, though it may have administrative
>    staff eventually
> Timeline
> ===
> We would like to have a meeting at LinuxWorld in mid-August to hash
> out the final few details and "ratify" the foundation. This means we
> need to get all the major details discussed this month, so we have
> time before LWE to do paperwork and organization tasks.
> ===
> The various GNOME companies are hiring as consultants to
> help finish the work involved with the foundation. They will be
> helping develop the bylaws, help do the legal paperwork, provide
> advice if asked, and in general be active participants in getting this
> done.
> The guys are already on this mailing list, and will be
> participating as appropriate.
> Decisions
> ===
> There are several specific issues that need to be hashed out on this
> list. I'll try to start separate threads for each issue, and give a
> brief summary of that issue, to get discussion started.
> Some of the issues are:
>  - how we select the initial membership
>  - how we run votes
>  - how the board of directors is selected (nomination process,
>    whether we vote on individuals or the whole board as a unit,
>    etc.)
>  - what constitutes a "module" and how modules are important
>    in the organization
> Later on in the process, we'll probably have drafts of the bylaws for
> discussion. will help us write those drafts, if we want.
> So, feel free to follow up with any comments, flames, etc. on this
> overview, and then we need to buckle down and start working out the
> details.
> Havoc
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-list mailing list

[Date Prev][Date Next]   [Thread Prev][Thread Next]   [Thread Index] [Date Index] [Author Index]