Gentoo Archives: gentoo-dev

From: Stuart Herbert <stuart.herbert@×××××.com>
To: gentoo-dev@l.g.o
Subject: Re: [gentoo-dev] Thoughts on the whole gentoo future discussion
Date: Thu, 05 Jan 2006 23:29:04
In Reply to: [gentoo-dev] Thoughts on the whole gentoo future discussion by Matthew Marlowe
1 Heya Matt,
3 On 1/5/06, Matthew Marlowe <mattm@g.o> wrote:
4 > Other than small improvements,
5 > I'm not sure anything positive has happened. If anything,
6 > Gentoo appears to be heading more in the "desktop"
7 > and "hobbyist" direction.
9 Server-orientated activities have historically never had the same
10 standing in Gentoo that desktop-oriented activities have had. Under
11 the old organisational structure, those of us actively working on
12 server stuff (such as Apache) had no voice in the old TLP meetings.
14 Thankfully, that has been addressed. The new metastructure creates a
15 totally-level playing field, where motivated individuals and teams are
16 really free to work on creating a strong server-oriented following.
18 But that doesn't help if no-one's turning up to participate.
20 Gentoo's strength is that it reflects the interests, committments, and
21 experience of the people who work on it. It's not like RedHat
22 Enterprise Linux, which reflects an agenda defined in a boardroom, or
23 by a commercial partnership with a vendor that benefits only a select
24 few customers. It takes its life and its energy from those who work
25 on it. We come from a diverse background, and we bring a diverse
26 range of needs that we want Gentoo to be suitable for. To the outside
27 world, it appears that we lack focus, but I believe the real truth is
28 that we're just really poor at communicating the many different
29 directions that we're going in.
31 (As an aside, I personally find it very frustrating when we have
32 individuals strongly arguing against attempts to improve our
33 communications like the news GLEP, and then some of these same people
34 turn around and plead ignorance on strategic work going on in the
35 project. Duplicious behaviour like this is our own worst enemy, and
36 turns what should be smoothly-flowing work into horrendous log jams).
38 And, equally, it suffers when people withdraw that energy - or (as
39 seems to be more and more the case these days) when people stop
40 enjoying what they do and lose the motivation to continue working on
41 the project.
43 We've always had a problem of burnout amongst devs, and to be honest I
44 see that as a natural thing that we have to live with. Not worried
45 about that, and if they come back their contribution always seems to
46 be even better than it was before.
48 We also seem to have regular "it's the end of the world" threads like
49 this (it's not the end of the world, btw). More (any? :) regular
50 face-to-face contact would help with that. Other leading f/oss
51 projects establish a culture of the key devs seeing each other
52 regularly on the conference circuit. I think this is where we should
53 start to sort things out - by making it possible for people to learn
54 more about each other properly, and to gain a better understanding of
55 each other's needs. It'll give us the foundations to build further
56 change and improvement on.
58 > That might be what they mean
59 > when they say gentoo is becoming irrelevant.
61 Gentoo's going to become irrelevant because today we're not
62 collectively capable of making that step to becoming a world-class
63 organisation. You've got three world-class organisations at the top
64 table - Red Hat, Novell/SuSE, and now Ubuntu. There's only room for
65 so many. We have to decide whether we really want to play at that
66 level, or whether we'd rather be playing in the sandpit and the slop
67 dosh with the other kids instead.
69 Do we want to raise our game to that level, or not?
71 (Btw, irrelevant doesn't mean no more Gentoo. When I contributed to
72 Slackware in the early 90's, it sent the trends and the standards that
73 other distros aspired to. Today, although Pat continues to provide an
74 excellent distro, what he does no longer matters on the world stage.
75 One of the four fundamental human psycological needs is to leave a
76 legacy. If Gentoo no longer matters, you're not going to get those
77 world-class people coming along and contributing. They're going to go
78 where their work has more impact. It's why we've already lost good
79 people to Ubuntu. Gentoo will just suffle along in a state of living
80 death - just like Slackware arguably does today. You need that
81 constant influx of new people to renew and revigorate any project or
82 organisation).
84 Many of our devs have never had any exposure to the sort of
85 culture-driven environment Kurt's talking about. I know what Kurt's
86 proposing has been rubbished savagely here on the mailing list (and
87 those savagings have been roundly cheered in #gentoo-dev during the
88 day). In world-class professional organisations they're seen as
89 standard practice and sound, effective solutions.
91 They're not "text book" solutions, or an "ideal world" that doesn't
92 work in reality. They're not fads, or fashions of their time. Every
93 time I hear or read people say that (and not just in a Gentoo context
94 - I hear this regularly from organisations and individuals I work with
95 outside Gentoo) I must admit I cringe a bit. In my experience, it's
96 normally used as an argument to cover up limits in individuals'
97 personal performance and their ability to raise their game to the
98 required level.
100 They're just de facto standard best practice, no different to (say)
101 how the ITIL is for IT service management.
103 Anyway, if we do want to steer the Good Ship Gentoo away from the
104 iceberg, I think our starting place has to be actively organising
105 face-to-face contact.
107 Best regards,
108 Stu
110 --
111 gentoo-dev@g.o mailing list