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On 2008.02.02 22:01, Jan Bilek wrote:
As a candidate in the Gentoo Foundation election, I would like to take
the time to address the points you have raised.
> I am not a developer, just user, but I hope I can dare to express my
> opinion - I read these nice ideas about improving communication
> between developers and users and I think it's also up to us -
> so I am trying.
Indeed it is - communication is a two way process.
> I have grown up in a centrally planned economy and it was all about
> regular meetings, summaries and named positions - those were used as
> tools to improve things and they almost never worked as expected.
Regular meetings provide records of decisions. For an organization such
as the Foundation, that's important. Summaries save people reading the
whole log when they only need to know the agreements reached. Named
positions shows who is normally responsible for an activity. A first
point of contact, if you like.
> For example these regular meetings you propose - if there is an issue
> to talk about why wait until the regular meeting is held? Are there
> no efficient and easy to use channels to communicate immediately?
You can use this mailing list and join #gentoo-trustees. There is no
need to wait for a meeting to start a discussion or raise an issue.
The next meeting will ensure that trustees have a common view of the
issue, record is progress in an easily accessible way and ensure its
not forgotten. emails and ad-hoc IRC discussions are good for getting
started but not for tracking progress and recording decisions.
> If there is no issue to talk about - regular meeting would be just a
> waste of time.
I don't agree - these meetings ensure that everyone is aware and can
participate fully in the decision making process. Trustees will be in
several timezones - that is an issue for managing a virtual community
such as Gentoo.
> These institutional things make everything less efficient - and BTW -
> they tend to get sooo boring and meaningless... The more non-formal,
> immediate and 'not institutionalized' communication - the better.
You need a balance between the formal, which produces formal records
and the informal, that does not.
> In (obviously not just) my opinion the problem is that Gentoo has
> become too political, too rigid, too bureaucratic and institutional -
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.
> and it seems to me that maybe you don't realize (maybe you have not
> attended as many regular meetings as I have;-)) that you want to fix
> things by making Gentoo even more bureaucratic, more institutional,
> less flexible.
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 think the solution is to go the exact opposite way - to make
> structural changes and use technical tools (as Daniel Robbins wrote
> about it) that would allow Gentoo to become more decentralized,
> flexible, less formal, less political. Disassembling the cathedral a
I think there are some good ideas here. 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
> Competition of smaller projects led by developers who talk when they
> need to instead of cathedral led by official institutions going
> through official (and less and less efficient) ways. Smaller teams
> who communicate on daily basis so they don't need summaries and
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 ?
> 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 have seen many developers leaving Gentoo because of fights - is it
I have seen some developers leave as a disagreement was the 'last
straw' but never as sole reason. Often, real reasons for leaving are
not made public.
> There should be some way to use the conflict for Gentoo's
> sake and developers' fun instead of never-ending discussions with
> only one solution - less patient side of a dispute leaves Gentoo.
Some technical discussions really do only have a single solution.
> Discussions are good but sometimes when there is too much of a need
> to discuss things this tells us that there is something wrong and
> there is a need for structural change.
I hope the Foundation can facilitate changes like this.
> I think Gentoo needs mechanism for teams to split up much more
> easily - I mean... lets let the work do
> the talking - if there is a disagreement in a team they should be
> able to split up easily and compete - the better technical solution
> wins and gets to the official tree - that's IMO more efficient and
> more fun way than discussions. I have some kind of micro-forks
> inside Gentoo on mind
Like the portage, plaudis, pkgcore developments in progress at them
moment perhaps ?
> - I think that is what Gentoo should support
> as much as possible
> and Gentoo's infrastructure should be tailored to support it.
> 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.
> Thanx for your time reading this.
> Jan Bilek.
> email@example.com mailing list
Thank you for writing.
(NeddySeagoon) a member of
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