Gentoo Archives: gentoo-nfp

From: Jan Bilek <clonolu@×××××.com>
To: neddyseagoon@g.o
Cc: gentoo-nfp@l.g.o
Subject: Re: [gentoo-nfp] Re: How to improve the trustees
Date: Sun, 03 Feb 2008 03:39:29
In Reply to: Re: [gentoo-nfp] Re: How to improve the trustees by Roy Bamford
Dear Roy

On Feb 3, 2008 1:04 AM, Roy Bamford <neddyseagoon@g.o> wrote:

    You need a balance between the formal, which produces formal records
    and the informal, that does not.
Yes - sure. I wrote that under the impression that there is too much of a 'formal side' in Gentoo recently. I got carried away and I started talking about Gentoo generally - I should have realized that the foundation matters are specific - they probably have to be more formal because of legal requirements etc. I think it could be useful to set up very different business processes for foundation matters and for development management.

    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.

This might be very difficult task. How are you going to handle it if elected? I might be totally out of proportions but do you think there can be some kind of a fight for competences between trustees and council? I am sorry if that is a stupid question. 

    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 am sure that's not the intent. But... and I don't want to sound too pessimistic... my experience is that these things (regular meetings, regular summaries etc.), despite good intentions, tend to turn into meaningless routine which is more of a barrier than any help. Hopefully this time I am wrong.

    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

Yes - I think Foundation might be very helpful. But I keep thinking about structural matters - these things are closely related to management and efficiency of the system. I think very flat and very free and open organizational structure can be more efficient although more difficult to manage - to set up smart rules enabling more of a self-managed system (yes, I have read too much about learning organizations and evolution) - that's a good goal IMO.

There is no money in Gentoo so it has to be about fun and freedom - people have to have options when it doesn't feel like fun. If you don't like to work with someone anymore you should be supported to build up - easily - your own independent team inside Gentoo (supporting internal competition instead of internal fighting) - even if the team would work on the same thing, seemingly wasting time - *let them do what they want* strategy -  to me it seems somehow contradictory to 'named positions with responsibilities' - I might be wrong.
Again - foundation itself is very specific, but speaking about Gentoo generally - it's not company and it cannot be organized as a company - the most important thing is fun.

    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 ?

Yes - I agree with you. And I am not against summaries and reports generally. I just think it's good idea to be very careful with institutionalizing these things. If you have something to tell just write blog post or comment and there is no need to make it regular or somehow mandatory... that's what I meant.

    > 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 am afraid I cannot - it's just an impression I got - I used to read devel MLs and sometimes I saw technical disputes turned into personal attacks and some people even left - and I felt it was out of frustration that those extremely valuable people had no other way to do anything constructive with their disagreement - I felt it could be somehow organizational failure and not just the personal one. But I have to admit that I am probably not competent enough to assess these things - I have never been a developer.

    Some technical discussions really do only have a single solution.

No doubt about it. But to have opportunity to try my solution and fail is much better than never-ending fights.

    Like the portage, plaudis, pkgcore developments in progress at them
    moment perhaps ?

Perhaps... but maybe there is a need for some kind of a fair and transparent mechanism how to decide which one gets to be in official tree. It's great that Gentoo offers possibility to have many different overlays and many different ways to do things but it's also great that there is no need to fight with different repos.  I mean - it's not just about apps - all of these apps can be in official tree - I thought more about overlays- how to make sure that the best stuff gets to official tree - without fights and delays?
Generally - it's good to have many possibilities and its good to have an efficient mechanism how to combine as many of them as possible to some kind of main/default tree for 'basic users' - where there are compatibility issues solved, quality checked and no need to dig in to choosing the right overlays and dealing with specific configuration. 
And btw, Sunrise overlay - IMO absolutely great thing but so many users don't even know it exists!

And speaking about Paludis - I don't know how to write this - I respect McCreesh, he is very talented, but I think Gentoo needs some sort of organizational change that would let him stay inside Gentoo without need for some other great developers to leave Gentoo - do you know what I mean? I realize that I am in no position to criticise anyone - anyone don't take me too seriously please.

    > 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.

Yes - but the trustees will have very difficult task achieving the balance and in my humble opinion they will have to distinguish legal stuff and the rest of their part of leading Gentoo and come up with very different styles of management for each of them.

Please consider that I am not an insider and I do realize that I can be wrong with anything I say. I just thought it might be useful to give you user's point of view. Great respect for developers.

Thanks a lot, Jan.

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Re: [gentoo-nfp] Re: How to improve the trustees Roy Bamford <neddyseagoon@g.o>