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To: gentoo-nfp@g.o
From: Scott W Taylor <swtaylor@g.o>
Subject: Re: Summary of NFP options
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 2004 20:51:01 -0600
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
Scott W Taylor <swtaylor@g.o>

gentoo-nfp@g.o mailing list

Re: Summary of NFP options
-- Ned Ludd
Summary of NFP options
-- Daniel Robbins
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