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To: gentoo-project@g.o
From: Steve Long <slong@...>
Subject: Re: A proposal to get out of this mess
Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2008 10:02:09 +0000
George Prowse wrote:

> Dominik Riva wrote:
>> This organisation is not able to do any thing then producing code at the
>> moment and this is what produced that mess.
>>
Agreed; coders are useless at organisation and administration of anything
but software. That's how it's supposed to be.

>> The offer from drobbins and the community that wants you by a big 90% to
>> take him by his offer.
>> 
>> The developers that don't like his offer because of his style to handle
>> volunteers that don't share his point of view.
>> 
>>
Well whatever their reasons might be, we're not the ones who would have to
work under drobbins, are we? And for all the talk of this only being about
the organisational side, the Trustees were/would be the legal owners of
Gentoo, if Gentoo went back to that form of incorporation. drobbins has
made it clear he wants to institute changes on the developmental side, from
his position as President/Chair of Trustees.

So that's a pretty major change in terms of the structure: the Trustees
would be deciding development policy.

>> So what to do:
>> 
>> Decline his offer!
>> 
>> Forget the Foundation - it is as dead as it can get legal. (how long can
>> Gentoo wait till the assets get lost?)
>>
Well I don't know much about it ofc, but I don't think they do own many
physical assets or money. AFAIK most of the infra (especially network
connectivity) isn't owned by Gentoo. I'm sure there are several machines
(most likely donated to Gentoo) given rack-space at eg osuosl.org. Domains,
brand and IP appear the most significant assets, and the last is debatable
given the lapse of the legal entity.

Since there hasn't been a Foundation in all this time, my bet is the
copyright on the code reverted to the authors a while back. Anyone who felt
s/he donated their code to the whole Community could quite justifiably
protest at it going into the control of an individual; after all since
drobbins left, it has been a NFP Foundation they assigned copyright to.
That no longer exists. 

US law is not the only law in the world, either; I am told that in Germany
you can't even assign copyright, only grant a usage license. I am not a
lawyer, nor do I assume drobbins is out for any nefarious purpose: I'm
simply pointing out that if the devs don't all agree to this, there could
be a hell of a situation to deal with which really could lead to the demise
of Gentoo. All because it had to be done in a week with no discussion?

>> Let the community vote on a constitution for the council. (One from the
>> developers and as much others that have a substancial backing from the
>> community. In Switzerland we normally can vote for 2 to 3 versions of a
>> "hot iron" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Referendum#Switzerland)
>>
OK I think we're mixing terminology here, which could get confusing: there
already is a Council, and it's the ultimate decision-making body on
technical matters. drobbins is proposing to take over the Board of
Trustees, which doesn't technically exist so he'd be starting a new
Foundation only he wants all the devs to hand their work over to that, and
accept him as ultimate authority.

>> A new council of 5 persons gets voted that stands under the rules of the
>> new Gentoo constitution by the community at large.
>> (Yes they will vote drobbins in if the likes to accept his nomination in
>> the light of the new rules)
>>
Er no, drobbins has insisted that the entire Board would *all* be his
appointees, and Gentoo would have *no* say in the matter.

>> 
>> Why I think this drastic steps are needed:
>> 
>> Gentleman, you screwed big time and the community is pissed!
>> 
>> The Gentoo-Project at large lost a lot of trust and credit in the eyes
>> of the community.
>>
Maybe you're right; personally they haven't in my eyes, mainly cos I've seen
how much crap they've had to deal with in the last few months on the m-l.
There's also been the small matter of a release which they've been working
towards, as well as getting the new Gnome stable (which seems to have real
issues, esp wrt policykit.) Then again, I don't much care about legal stuff
so long as it is done; the fact that it hasn't is bad. No doubt about it.

All it says to me is: hurry tf up and join the SFC:
http://conservancy.softwarefreedom.org/
http://conservancy.softwarefreedom.org/members/
 ..seems like good company to keep in my eyes, and Gentoo can take itself
out of the SFC whenever it likes. That's vastly different to handing the
lot over to an individual, whoever that might be.

With an individual in charge, you have a single point of failure. Stress
builds up on that person and they turn more and more to their inner-circle,
who will reassure them in the face of "adversaries". The same thing happens
with small cliques. It's not healthy for any organisation, leave alone one
as large and semi-autonomous as the Gentoo dev community.

IOW moving backwards to a BDFL model isn't opening anything up, and isn't a
progression. Having drobbins as say, head of devrel or the like, /would/
make a difference imo. He'd be in the position to act on the issues he sees
with how devs treat users (I mean the "advanced" users they interact with
on a more frequent basis who do come under devrel) as well as inter-dev
bitchiness. Those two groups are the ones who get involved in flames on the
m-l. It would give him much more chance to set the tone for Gentoo
developers, and I believe he would be firm and fair, and act on those
problems in a timely manner to nip them in the bud (once the initial
firefighting had been done ;)

This is not a criticism of current devrel. As I quoted in my forum post:
"Strong leaders are good: strong institutions are better. A strong community
is best of all."

>> Hell, I would not even trust a Gentoo-Foundation trustee to feed my pet
>> snails while I am on a vacation!
>>
Fair enough.

>> One last thing in my own interest:
>> 
>> Please fill in the gaps at http://gentoo-wiki.com/Problems_at_Gentoo
>> with your internal knowledge.
So what's going to be on that page in a year's time? And why can't people
get this information from the quite long posts in the forum threads?

I see it as a temporary internal Community matter, and there's more than
enough info on the forums. Apart from your "own interest" (whatever that
is) whom does it really serve?

>> The community needs all information's it can get if it has to vote. This
>> geeks want to know that what they do to there beloved distribution is
>> the right thing to do.
>>
You're assuming the users get a vote: they don't and personally I'm not at
all fussed about it. It's not my code, and it's not me who'd have to work
under the new regime.

Not saying I'd have any problem with it: I like what drobbins tried to do
last year (stand up to a monstrous troll) and obviously I love the distro
he created, as well as the user community which he inspired. I just don't
have the right to make that decision for someone else, and nor imo do you.

> I like the idea of a discussion of this kind and I applaud you for
> trying to start a discussion but you are unlikely to start any form of
> discussion here because it is not the forum for it.
>
I disagree: it's absolutely the right forum, since it's a non-technical/
organisational issue that concerns all interested parties. Exactly the kind
of thing project was set up for.

You may be right that it won't change anything however; this is one of the
rare occasions (it's the only one I can actually think of tbh ;) where i'm
siding with the devs against the users (since the discussion is framed
along those lines), in that it's their choice to decide how and with whom
they want to work.

drobbins' offer left a nasty taste in my mouth: one week, all his own
appointees, no information (beyond: "expect big changes"), no discussion.

Er, no thanks?

Maybe that's cos he's frustrated and doesn't want to waste time; it's just
not the kind of ultimatum I personally would ever accept. And since we
haven't had a Foundation since last summer, I really don't see the need to
be bullied into accepting.

The software is still improving, and the herds are still feeding ebuilds
into the main tree. I just did a fresh install from 2007.0 and
*GENTOO STILL ROCKS!*


-- 
gentoo-project@g.o mailing list


Replies:
Re: Re: A proposal to get out of this mess
-- Dominik Riva
Re: Re: A proposal to get out of this mess
-- George Prowse
References:
A proposal to get out of this mess
-- Dominik Riva
Re: A proposal to get out of this mess
-- George Prowse
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