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To: gentoo-nfp@g.o
From: Ned Ludd <solar@g.o>
Subject: Re: Summary of NFP options
Date: 12 Apr 2004 23:24:54 -0400
I tend to fully agree to the following comments made by Scott here.

On Mon, 2004-04-12 at 22:51, Scott W Taylor wrote:
> On Mon, 2004-04-12 at 18:39, Daniel Robbins wrote:
> > Hi guys,
> > 
> > Here is a very short summary of the NFP progress so far:
> > 
> > 1) I have committed to get something going by the end of this month (April.)
> > This would be either an establishment of an NFP, or some kind of action plan
> > to set up multiple entities like a NFP with one or more cooperatives to
> > provide funding.
> 
> Letting the people that care about and feel they would be affected by
> such changes is as important to me as the final outcome.
> 
> > 2) The main issue of concern for me is (obviously) not getting the NFP set
> > up as soon as humanly possible but making sure that whatever is really best
> > for the Gentoo community, as it is very hard to change things once things
> > have been established.
> > 
> > This has been very difficult because I have been trying to meet many
> > conflicting and contradictory expectations of users and developers:
> > 
> > A) 	Expectation: Gentoo will be competitive against Microsoft
> > 	Reality: Microsoft spends $6.8 Billion USD on R&D every year.
> ...
> re: comment in meeting about how users become the testbed for unstable
> linux software: so are Microsoft users, but linux users aren't required
> to pay to be tested on.
> 
> > B)	Expectation: I want to be able to work on Gentoo full-time.
> > 	Reality: As time goes on, Linux and free software is getting
> > supported more
> ...
> > 	Good question. These big companies will want some return on their
> > dollar, so they
> > 	will expect you to do what *they* want and not what you want.
> ...
> This is precisely why i feel uneasy about a largely money-backed
> operation being in control of gentoo. Even if current or former gentoo
> people end up running it for the first year.
> ...
> > C)	Expectation: Gentoo should be representative of user needs.
> > 	Reality: Having an open participatory model makes it easier for
> > external entities (such as the dreaded Microsoft) to co-opt (ie take over) the entity.
> ...
> As opposed to one that can be bought into? The current "open
> participatory" model involves people participating and giving back to
> the community to even get in. Participation may be open but it requires
> a little more than just a checkbook.
> 
> > D)	Expectation: Gentoo should be set up to protect against co-option.
> > 	Reality: This requires a closed and non-participatory
> ...
> I've worked as a federal contractor, and in a small office run out of a
> glorified condo out in the woods, and many places inbetween. The common
> thread was that when people felt things were being run fairly and
> equitably, they were much more willing to put in the overtime and not
> complain about feeling slighted. One day, that little company in the
> woods got acquired by a venture-capital-backed startup headed up by
> former vice presidents of various banks and mortgage companies. After
> the takeover, people got pathetic 2% raises and were told straight up
> that it'd be the last raise for another year. So, we no longer had much
> of a say in the organization, while we kept hearing about all the money
> they were spending on the marble fountains for the out-of-state
> corporate offices we'd never see or use. 
> ...
> > E)	Expectation: We should have 501(c)(3) status
> > 	Reality: I have learned that 501(c)(3) status is for charities.
> ...
> > 3) Several major universities are in negotiation about setting up some kind
> > of entity to fund Gentoo development, and I am participating in some of
> > these discussions.
> ..........
> Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of the coop, I like seeing a way to
> help push along various open-source projects, even more so if Gentoo was
> to be their flagship platform - the one that gets the most, or first
> shot at benefits from any development or promotions that come from
> having an actual budget.
> 
> Something I've always respected about open source projects is that
> contributions are mostly merit-based. If someone wants to contribute,
> and they have good code, they are in. Sure, its somewhat of a utopian
> view, as personality conflicts can get in the way. But truly open
> projects have been this way for quite some time. When I first started
> contributing fractal algorithms and printer drivers to fractint, and
> even introduced a publisher to the whole concept (the book "Fractal
> Creations" and a few others were the result of this). By the way, I was
> 14 when I did this. I could not have bought my way into an organization
> then, and was discriminated right out of any real office, but online it
> didn't matter.
> 
> My vote for gentoo as a distribution is to keep it pure. I have a vested
> interest in keeping it running as well as it possibly can, because I use
> it. Its my desktop, its my server, its my laptop. We already are
> responsive to users, from bugzilla and other sources. There are people
> out there making sure it runs well. Its not because they bought in to a
> coop, its because they already care about the product.
> 
> If you can get corporations and universities to chip in to a fund that
> can help get better drivers built, or even show hardware manufacturers
> that there is a presence out there aside from just ibm that wants linux
> to succeed, and can better coax vendors to release open drivers for
> (video, network, firewire, etc) hardware, or allow interested developers
> to do so without resorting to trying to reverse-engineer their gear,
> then that would be great too. But since not all that money will be going
> directly to gentoo, I feel that there would be fewer concerns about how
> a money-based organization, even if its called a coop, would have
> somewhat of a conflict of interest with gentoo itself.
> 
> If gentoo was declared a NFP, even though it might be more restrictive,
> it sounds to me like that would be just the thing to help keep gentoo
> pure by forcing the books to stay clean, and still giving universities a
> charitable way to write off equipment and bandwidth which is helping us
> and our users. And if they can afford to chip in to the organization
> that funds development to further the growth and stability of linux
> (including gentoo), then that is a great thing too. Although those two
> things have a symbiotic relationship and benefit from each other, they
> do not have identical goals and motivations, and for that reason I feel
> they should be separate entities. It is important to have a clear focus.
> Being pulled in two directions at once is likely to cause a rift. 
> 
> ...
> > You will need to choose between an "open, participatory" (and co-optable)
> > and a "closed, non-co-optable" (and non-representative/unfair) governing
> > model. So let me know which you prefer and I'll get it set up. The other
> > alternative is to try to find some kind of compromise, where the government
> > for the not-for-profit isn't too fair or open, but is more bureaucratic and
> > harder to co-opt. Let me know which one appeals to you.
> > 
> > Sincerely,
> > 
> > Daniel
> > --
> > gentoo-nfp@g.o mailing list
-- 
Ned Ludd <solar@g.o>
Gentoo Linux Developer
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References:
Summary of NFP options
-- Daniel Robbins
Re: Summary of NFP options
-- Scott W Taylor
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