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There appeared to be a quoting issue with your email, so I have
reformatted it for my reply. I hope I have the attributions correct, if
not I apologise in advance.
On 2008.02.03 03:39, Jan Bilek wrote:
> Dear Roy
> > On Feb 3, 2008 1:04 AM, Roy Bamford <email@example.com
> > wrote:
> > You need a balance between the formal, which produces formal
> > records and the informal, that does not.
> Yes - sure. I wrote that under the impression that there is too much
> of a 'formal side' in Gentoo recently.
As others have said, you only see the informal part if you are taking
part in it. If you think Gentoo (any of it) is too formal, which
information would you as a user be prepared to go without?
The premise here is that users only see the formal information.
> > I think the Gentoo council, which was set up to be a technical
> > body is getting bogged down in politics from time to time, which
> > impedes its technical decision making process. This is where the
> > Gentoo Foundation can help, by taking on all the political aspects
> > of our community.
> This might be very difficult task. How are you going to handle it if
> elected? I might be totally out of proportions but do you think there
> can be some kind of a fight for competences between trustees and
> council? I am sorry if that is a stupid question.
First, there are no stupid questions, except the one you do not ask. Be
on your guard for stupid answers though.
I do not think there will be a "fight for competencies" because the
council and foundation were established with different aims which need
volunteers with different skill sets. The council has had to deal with
the politics of Gentoo because the Foundation has not been very active.
I do not intend to suggest that the Foundation will snatch any
responsibilities away from the council. It will be by agreement with
> > I hope that's not the intent. My intent is to have the council and
> > foundation work together such that the council does not spend its
> > time on politics and is free to focus on technical things. This
> > will lead to more flexible decision making.
> I am sure that's not the intent. But... and I don't want to sound too
> pessimistic... my experience is that these things (regular meetings,
> regular summaries etc.), despite good intentions, tend to turn into
> meaningless routine which is more of a barrier than any help.
> Hopefully this time I am wrong.
I would like to model the Foundation on the current council process
that seems to work quite well. Allow me to refer you to the council
meeting logs and summaries.
> > Gentoo has reached a size where central control can at best, only
> > set a direction. It cannot manage details. Gentoo does have some of
> > the structure in place for these things to happen - the separate
> > projects and herds. Gentoo is in need of middle management -
> > perhaps it can come from the Foundation.
> Yes - I think Foundation might be very helpful. But I keep thinking
> about structural matters - these things are closely related to
> management and efficiency of the system.
Gentoo is already a loosely co-operating set of projects. These
individual projects seem to work well.
> I think very flat and very free and open organizational structure can
> be more efficient although more difficult to manage - to set up smart
> rules enabling more of a self-managed system (yes, I have read too
> much about learning organizations and evolution) - that's a good goal
In practice (in the workplace anyway) its not possible for one person
to manage more that abouot 10 others. At that sort of scale, the one
person becomes a full time manager. Gentoo has the same scaling
problem. Projects work - they fit the above relationships.
> There is no money in Gentoo so it has to be about fun and freedom -
> people have to have options when it doesn't feel like fun. If you
> don't like to work with someone anymore you should be supported to
> build up - easily - your own independent team inside Gentoo
> (supporting internal competition instead of internal fighting) - even
> if the team would work on the same thing, seemingly wasting time -
> *let them do what they want* strategy - to me it seems somehow
> contradictory to 'named positions with responsibilities' - I might be
> Again - foundation itself is very specific, but speaking about Gentoo
> generally - it's not company and it cannot be organized as a company
> - the most important thing is fun.
I agree with most of that, especially the fun part.
However workable orgainsations can be applied to any project. The
difference between Gentoo and a company is that the company is supposed
to make money.
> > That's fine for the individual projects but what about the wider
> > community and the bigger projects that need to know what is
> > happening to the projects that they use. In particular, I'm
> > thinking of Release Engineering who are putting together the 2008.0
> > LiveCD. They need to know that the various parts will be ready on
> > time. Users like to know whats happening too - how would that
> > information be circulated without summaries and reports ?
> Yes - I agree with you. And I am not against summaries and reports
> generally. I just think it's good idea to be very careful with
> institutionalizing these things. If you have something to tell just
> write blog post or comment and there is no need to make it regular or
> somehow mandatory... that's what I meant.
If reports are irregular and on blogs they will mostly be missed by
readers. Blogs are OK for individuals making statements on their own
behalf but they can never be offical statements on behalf of Gentoo.
> > > Allowing and promoting funny competition between smaller teams
> > > instead of demotivating (because unsolvable) fights inside huge
> > > teams frozen in official ways of doing things.
> > I have never seen this - can you provide an example please ?
> I am afraid I cannot - it's just an impression I got - I used to read
> devel MLs and sometimes I saw technical disputes turned into personal
> attacks and some people even left - and I felt it was out of
> frustration that those extremely valuable people had no other way to
> do anything constructive with their disagreement - I felt it could be
> somehow organizational failure and not just the personal one. But I
> have to admit that I am probably not competent enough to assess these
> things - I have never been a developer.
> > Some technical discussions really do only have a single solution.
> No doubt about it. But to have opportunity to try my solution and
> fail is much better than never-ending fights.
> > Like the portage, plaudis, pkgcore developments in progress at
> > them moment perhaps ?
> Perhaps... but maybe there is a need for some kind of a fair and
> transparent mechanism how to decide which one gets to be in official
I'm missing something here. The offical tree is only limited by what
developers want to commit and there are lots of competing packages
there already. KDE vs GNOME, any number of window managers, several
Office applications, plaudis, portage (not sure about pkgcore)
> It's great that Gentoo offers possibility to have many
> different overlays and many different ways to do things but it's also
> great that there is no need to fight with different repos. I mean -
> it's not just about apps - all of these apps can be in official tree
> - I thought more about overlays- how to make sure that the best stuff
> gets to official tree - without fights and delays?
The only requirement for a package to be in the offcial tree is that a
Gentoo developer wants to put it there and maintain it.
> Generally - it's good to have many possibilities and its good to have
> an efficient mechanism how to combine as many of them as possible to
> some kind of main/default tree for 'basic users' - where there are
> compatibility issues solved, quality checked and no need to dig in to
> choosing the right overlays and dealing with specific configuration.
That exists - its the arch tree.
There will always be some configuration, but as long as you select your
profile, the system will build a working Gentoo for you.
Overlays are never required for Gentoo to work.
> And btw, Sunrise overlay - IMO absolutely great thing but so many
> users don't even know it exists!
How do we fix that?
I think we tell users about overlays as they ask and the need arises.
The quality of software in overlays varies considerably.
Many new users come to gentoo as their first Linux. Many of them are
poorly informed about both Linux and Gentoo - I don't know how to reach
this group *before* they start asking for help in #gentoo and on the
forums. Thats the sort problem we have to solve.
> And speaking about Paludis - I don't know how to write this - I
> respect McCreesh, he is very talented, but I think Gentoo needs some
> sort of organizational change that would let him stay inside Gentoo
> without need for some other great developers to leave Gentoo - do you
> know what I mean? I realize that I am in no position to criticise
> anyone - anyone don't take me too seriously please.
I know what you mean, other projects have similar issues. The kernel
manages these issues by structuring to keep such groups/individuals
apart, so they continue to contribute to their areas of interest.
Its more of a problem to Gentoo because any developer may contribute
anywhere. Gentoo has that open structure.
> > > To find the mechanism that would allow to maintain functionality
> > > of Gentoo as whole, solve compatibility issues etc. without too
> > > much of a huge organization that needs more and more energy to
> > > keep itself going... writing summaries and attending meetings
> > > while there is less and less time left to do the actual work -
> > > that is the problem.
> > Its a question of balance. Producing the information needed to
> > keep users and other developers informed without doing to much, at
> > the same time making sure that enough paperwork is produced to be
> > able to use the products made by developers and understand the
> > decisions they made at sometime in the future, when changes need to
> > be made.
> Yes - but the trustees will have very difficult task achieving the
> balance and in my humble opinion they will have to distinguish legal
> stuff and the rest of their part of leading Gentoo and come up with
> very different styles of management for each of them.
I'm sure it won't be easy, if it were, it would not be fun. I think
that we can learn from what others are already doing. In the Open
Source world, its very easy to build on what others have already
achieved - thats what the Open means.
This reminds me of a quote attributed to Issac Newton "If I have seen
further than other men, it is because I stand on the shouders of
Gentoo can build in the same way.
> Please consider that I am not an insider and I do realize that I can
> be wrong with anything I say. I just thought it might be useful to
> give you user's point of view. Great respect for developers.
> Thanks a lot, Jan.
> firstname.lastname@example.org mailing list
Its always good to hear others points of view. Let me leave you with a
link to my ideas for the Foundation
(NeddySeagoon) a member of
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