Re: Foundation summary

Mike Kestner <> writes: 
> What needs are currently not being met?  Gnome 1.2 shipping a month
> after the original target discussed on the mailing lists? 

Foundations can't do engineering miracles. ;-)

> Donations not having an avenue to flow into the project other than
> into the coffers of helix, eazel, and whatever startup announces
> next week?

Yes, this is one reason. You can't donate to a company. And if you
could, it wouldn't be tax-deductible, and there wouldn't be
accountability as to who the money goes to.

We need to buy a new * server, for example.

>  Sun not having a body to call upon to force acceptance of their
> office suite into the community at large?

I don't think the foundation can do any forcing, as Alan has pointed
out. However, it gives Sun someone to contact.

In the past, if a company has wanted to work with GNOME, they've
approached one or more of the GNOME companies. That company tries to
give them a guess what the community will want to do, but the
community doesn't know about the company. With Eazel, people at
companies knew about it months in advance of anyone else, and had to
guide Eazel and give them advice. 

The foundation lets the community get in on this process, because we
can have community members on the board, and the board can talk to
companies. It's better than the current situation; at least your
representatives will be elected.

Another reason for the foundation is that antitrust regulations
prevent a company like Sun from simply getting together with HP and
IBM and all the other big UNIX vendors to have a chat. They need some
legally-existing forum.

> How will the foundation be more effective at coordinating the content
> and release of future versions?

The steering committee IMO has done a lot of good to improve
communication and coordination. The foundation's board won't be any
better than the steering committee, but it will be elected, which will
hopefully make people feel a lot better about it.

>   I don't see this in the document.  Will
> I stand up and toe the line because I'm now hacking under the auspices
> of a foundation?  

I would hope that you try to work with the group already, and will
continue to do that after the foundation is created. By "work with the
group" I mean advocate your opinions as strongly as you can, but
recognize that we do all have to agree on something like a release
date, and so once we decide on that (post-discussion) everyone should
do their best to help implement what the group decided on.

I'd like to see the board come in at the end of some of the long
flamefests we have about something like a release date, and say "OK,
what we got out of that was <whatever>, this is the current plan."
They'd sort of make the official call on what the consensus was, so we
know what it was we actually agreed on.

> How will the foundation distribute donated funds? 

It will simply purchase things that need purchasing, the board making
the call. So the board would vote and say "OK we spend 10K on a build
farm" or whatever.

> Will it employ hackers?  Tech writers?


>  Will it redirect it to the companies?  Will it
> send me a tall stack of cash for my next bonobo patch?

It won't be funding development at all AFAIK. That would tend to be a
bad thing, IMO. We might want to send machines to developers with no
cash and crappy machines, the FSF has done that for a long time.
At most, the foundation could occasionally hire someone to do some
contract work, but in general I'd consider that bad and in any case,
it won't have enough money to do it often.

> If I understood why a foundation is needed, maybe I'd be more
> interested.  I personally don't understand how any of the well thought
> out organizational strategy specified in the 3rd Draft proposal will
> unlock any substantial value for the project.  In fairness, I also don't
> see it doing any harm, which may account for some of the disinterest
> being witnessed in the community.

I think it's OK if some people aren't interested, since after all most
people are looking to hack, not to play model UN as Elliot puts it.
That's why we've tried to make the foundation pretty minimal, with
only a board to elect, and the board doesn't make technical decisions
unless they stronly impact the whole project and aren't clearly the
province of particular maintainers.

Also (though this wasn't a concern you expressed particularly, others
have), I think the foundation will _decrease_ some of the influence
companies currently have, in a couple ways:

 - it makes control somewhat obvious and public (via the foundation
   board), and companies trying to join GNOME can talk to the elected
   board, not random people at companies.
   (I say "somewhat" because ultimately control comes from
   contributing code, and companies will continue to have lots of 
   hackers doing that.)   

 - it lets us deal with money on our own (we can buy a server
   ourselves, instead of trying to talk a company into it)

 - it gives us a way to make statements and press releases 
   as a project, while right now they only really come from 
   the companies or from individuals

Thanks a lot for your post.


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