Re: Questions


So, I'm rather trying to figure out where this came from, and very much
trying to ignore your past turbulent history with the project in this

>I would like to wish everyone Merry Xmas and a happy New Year. Now to my
>concerns. For me as german person and years long follower of GNOME it is
>hard to follow and understand what the Foundation represents, how it
>works and its rules. I still believe that I haven't understood
>everything due of it not being really transparent enough. People where
>english is not their native language understanding things can be hard.

If you have not already done so, I firmly recommend that you read the 
GNOME Foundation Charter and By-Laws on

This will give you a good idea of what the GNOME Foundation is about. In
brief, the GNOME Foundation is there for the project - making sure that it
continues to have the proper resources to make it a successful project, be
a single contact point for many industry partners and to spread the outreach
of GNOME as a viable and free alternative desktop.

Of course, I am the first person to admit that perhaps the GNOME Foundation
has not been transparent enough. Quite often we forget the numbers of 
people reading the bi-weekly minutes, and our 300+ foundation members - but
when any significant decision comes up at the board, we are all in mutual
agreement to make sure that the foundation members are kept in touch.

The GNOME Foundation often hides much of its rather dull administration 
work, whether that is looking after the bookeeping of the accounts, organizing
talks and demonstrations at various conferences and trade shows, making sure
that we have proper legal documentation in place for our name and logos, etc
etc. I very much hope that will work towards being more open moving forward.

>In the past years of participating to GNOME I figured out that GNOME is
>mostly driven by the same people. E.g. always the same people who do the
>Release stuff, always the same people who sit in the Board and so on. I
>know this can be changed once someone applies for candidacy but I
>believe that many people are not really aware of the importance of all
>this and I feel a bit worried about that. At the end it also looks quite
>monotonous and singlesided. We already saw in this years voting how many
>people missed to vote. Maybe they do not care enough.

Did you ever wonder why this is so? From my point of view, coming from a
hugely corporate background, I've always understood a simple principle
when dealing with the open source community, and the GNOME project in
particular -

	" The people that do the work, get to make the decisions "

And it's as simple as that. Just because I work for Sun on GNOME doesn't
mean that I'm entitled to be a major shareholder when it comes to these

This year there was a huge opportunity to be a successful candidate for the
GNOME Foundation Elections. The opportunity was open to everyone, including
you. It is hard to know why so few people voted in the elections this year - 
perhaps they don't really care about the GNOME Foundation, perhaps they feel
that the GNOME Foundation is doing a good enough job not to be too worried
about it. Who knows.

Within the release team, things have changed dramatically over the past
few years - from fire fighting during the GNOME 2.0 push, to sitting back
and watching a pretty straightforward release process that runs itself for
GNOME 2.4. There is a lot of history there, some that you might not have
known, and the release team has been intelligent enough to realise when there
was a need for new blood [1]. As we move to a more well defined release process 
it's becoming clear that the release team is not as significant as they used 
to be. We now have regular 6 monthly releases. We are shipping our software. 
We are making a difference.

>I also figured out over the years that some of the same people who do
>the job over and over again have the tendency to abuse their position by
>creating their own 'world of' GNOME and this is worrying me even more.

Let's name names here. Let's be open about this, and cut out so much of the
bullshit that has gone before.

I have a feeling that you mean Jeff Waugh, and if you mean someone else then
I apologise. Jeff is one of the most active non-corporate contributors that 
GNOME has, and I believe a good friend that I have the utmost respect for. 
For the record, and while he has like everyone else been childish at times, 
I believe that he has never once abused his position in the few years that 
I've known him. Jeff is one of the most dedicated people I've met. I don't
know what he's eating, but if everyone who worked on GNOME had some of it,
we'd be unstoppable [2]. If you have a problem with him, then you should
be adult enough to admit it.

If you really want to get involved, and make a positive difference,
and can attend GUADEC 4 in Kristiansand, Norway then I'd highly recommend it. 
It's a good opportunity to match the various email addresses and nicknames 
with *real* genuine people, and quite often a chance to see where people
are coming from in their ideas and suggestions. Sometimes I'm sure we all
forget that we're dealing with a hugely diverse community of people from
all types of cultures and backgrounds.

>I would like to give a good example here:
>Say the people who have manifest their position as Release Team it then
>becomes hard for new people to participate there. On the Release Teams
>page you see that the aim is to have a 6 months rotation of the people
>so others get the chance to do the job as well but from my
>investigations the same people were sitting there 1 year ago, 2 years
>ago etc. I don't want to value them as person but I think it is
>singlesided and the people outside can not influence it enough.

We needed consistancy during the 1.4 - 2.4 times. We needed regular 
releases. Having a release team with continous rotation of its
members just wouldn't work. Yeah, it's very much a case of 'too many
cooks'. It's now pretty clear that we have a well defined release 
proccess that really doesn't need much tinkering with, and much of the 
important discussion eg. proposed list of new modules, already happens
in a public forum [desktop-devel-list gnome] 

>How can a abuse look like: Explaining this will definately upset a few
>people now but I do not see another chance to explain it other than
>naming it. Say there are some competition products such as
>buildingsystems for GNOME, now the Release Coordinator and current
>Chairman has a similar product of his own. Due his position he forces
>his product into the GNOME project and ignores other existing solutions
>driven by other people whose aims are to support GNOME as well. It is
>impossible for this person for example to claim and hope for an equal
>chance to present their work for GNOME. Why is this so ? because the
>same people are sitting there and doing the job over and over again and
>use their position to 'control'. It's understandable that competition is
>not wanted but isn't the aim of GNOME to give everyone the same rights
>and chances ? Say how is this rotation done there ? If the same people
>who have manifest their position there decide who becomes part of the
>Release Team and who not then it should be clear that personal interests
>overweight the decidion. E.g. people whose nose doesn't fit do not get
>the chance or Team memers who have problems with others do not get the
>chance as well.

This is a pretty petty argument, and seems to revolve around GARNOME
and CVSGNOME. Since you've now got a link on

is there no more discussion to this mail? This seems like a rather 
overblown mail to make such a simple request. Quite often it just
takes one person to 'Just do it' - I'm sure you know enough people
with CVS accounts to make the change happen. Whinging about it
on various news groups doesn't cut it. Ever.

>I therefore would like to ask whether it is possible to change this
>functionality in a permanent rotation.

The GNOME Foundation board directors get elected each year. That is a 
permanent rotation. As such, you can't disallow a person putting themselves
up as a candidate in an election unless you make a formal proposition to 
ammend the GNOME Foundation By-Laws, and organize an election with the 
GNOME Foundation members for such a proposal.

The GNOME Release Team is a slightly different body, in that the GNOME
Foundation Board has given the release team a responsibility to organize
the various release cycles within the GNOME project. There is no mention
of any official regulations about the release team in the By-Laws. However,
I would feel disappointed if certain release team members didn't move on
if they knew that they had nothing to add to the team.

>Say if someone is part as Boardmember, Releasemember or any other member
>for say 1-2 periods then he should back out for 1-2 periods and allow
>others to do the job and after the 1-2 periods are passed they should
>get the same chance again to do the job. This will definately control
>GNOME in a correct way without giving people outside the feeling that it
>is abused in some ways. GNOME is and was a free project and what matters
>more is this community. The people around it who support it, who
>contribute to it, who have sleepless nights with fixing and improving
>things should be the ones to respect. The community IS GNOME. And we
>should make sure that this community should get the same chances as
>others to participate to it. To feel part of it. To not get the feeling
>to be controlled by the same people.

This type of thing has happened already in the board - Havoc did 2 years,
then moved on, Daniel did 2 years then moved on, etc etc. 

As much as many people will disagree with me [3], the GNOME project is 
coming up to a pretty important milestone in it's project. We need the
GNOME project to be stronger than ever. GNOME is being deployed in more
places than ever before. We are winnning. Our software is getting used
by millions of people. We need consitancy, reliability and unity [4].


[1] In fact, I've counted over 16 people that have been on the release
    team between 2.0 and 2.4. That's a significant amount of rotation,
    where a deal of consitency and knowledge retaining is needed.

[2] Clearly it's vegemite, got to be.

[3] And hopefully, as much as many people will agree with me

[4] Of course we need people with new ideas to step up to the mark as
    well, but in a less conceited way

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