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Old 04-20-2008, 08:50 PM
"Jonathan Roberts"
 
Default Elected/Appointed Board

Hi all,

I was just looking over the minutes from the first "town hall" meeting
and read Rahul's question with interest: "Will the Board ever switch
from 5 appointed/4 elected to a majority in the other direction?"

The answer that Paul gave to this didn't seem clear to me, and I was
wondering if a clarification was possible? Paul said:

"-- but this question is academic until and unless Fedora has sponsors
other than Red Hat."

Why does Fedora having [significant] sponsors other than Red Hat make
a difference to the make-up of the board? While I understand that Red
Hat makes significant contributions to Fedora, I'm not sure I
understand why it is correct that the majority of the board and the
chair person with their veto should be appointed by Red Hat.

I have further thoughts on the matter, but would rather not speak them
until I understand other the reasons behind the status-quo better - I
don't want to embarrass myself!

Best wishes,

Jon

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Old 04-20-2008, 09:02 PM
Josh Boyer
 
Default Elected/Appointed Board

On Sun, 2008-04-20 at 21:50 +0100, Jonathan Roberts wrote:
> Hi all,
>
> I was just looking over the minutes from the first "town hall" meeting
> and read Rahul's question with interest: "Will the Board ever switch
> from 5 appointed/4 elected to a majority in the other direction?"
>
> The answer that Paul gave to this didn't seem clear to me, and I was
> wondering if a clarification was possible? Paul said:
>
> "-- but this question is academic until and unless Fedora has sponsors
> other than Red Hat."
>
> Why does Fedora having [significant] sponsors other than Red Hat make
> a difference to the make-up of the board? While I understand that Red
> Hat makes significant contributions to Fedora, I'm not sure I
> understand why it is correct that the majority of the board and the
> chair person with their veto should be appointed by Red Hat.

Red Hat provides the financial backing. While some other companies have
donated hardware, etc, Red Hat is by far the company that makes Fedora
possible.

´╗┐Having a non-Red Hat employee as the Chair would seem entirely odd to
me. Would you appoint someone to control a portion of your bank account
that you had absolutely no ties, no insight as to what is good for you
in the long run, and no control over? I sure wouldn't. I wouldn't ask
Red Hat do to so either.

josh

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Old 04-20-2008, 09:26 PM
Rahul Sundaram
 
Default Elected/Appointed Board

Josh Boyer wrote:


Red Hat provides the financial backing. While some other companies have
donated hardware, etc, Red Hat is by far the company that makes Fedora
possible.

´╗┐Having a non-Red Hat employee as the Chair would seem entirely odd to
me.


That was never asked for however. Red Hat can continue to appoint the
chair with the veto power. The veto power has never been used and
probably won't be. It is more of a escape hatch if the plane is about to
crash. So I am not really worried about that.


In summary, what I asked was: If the chair already has veto power, does
Red Hat really need a majority vote within the board too? Can we allow
the majority seats to be elected ones instead of appointed ones? Or
otherwise, can Red Hat consider appointing a non-Red Hat community
member possibly even external to Fedora (but from within the Free
software community) to bring in a broader perspective to the Fedora Board.


It is my strong belief that Red Hat members within the board won't vote
for anything just because they work for Red Hat nor do I think Red Hat
has tried to influence the direction in a bad way but this is something
I wanted the board to consider for how we can be perceived externally.


Rahul

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Old 04-20-2008, 10:13 PM
"Jonathan Roberts"
 
Default Elected/Appointed Board

> It is my strong belief that Red Hat members within the board won't vote for
> anything just because they work for Red Hat nor do I think Red Hat has tried
> to influence the direction in a bad way but this is something I wanted the
> board to consider for how we can be perceived externally.

I don't know if this is something that should be decided on based on
external appearances, but rather as a matter of principal and
integrity. Still, like I said before, I'd like to know why the
status-quo is as it is before saying too much else!

Best,

Jon

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Old 04-21-2008, 04:14 AM
John Poelstra
 
Default Elected/Appointed Board

Jonathan Roberts said the following on 04/20/2008 01:50 PM Pacific Time:

Hi all,

I was just looking over the minutes from the first "town hall" meeting
and read Rahul's question with interest: "Will the Board ever switch
from 5 appointed/4 elected to a majority in the other direction?"


This reminded me I forgot to post the minutes from 2008-04-15
Sorry about that. This topic was discussed.

http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Board/Meetings/2008-04-15

John

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Old 04-21-2008, 09:48 AM
"Jonathan Roberts"
 
Default Elected/Appointed Board

Thanks Paul I look forward to hearing how this develops and think
it's definitely a step in the right direction. I still have some
reservations about the system, even if the majority is reversed. The
problems I still see with this, and whether these are in any way valid
I have no idea but I'd love to hear some feedback about it, are thus:

Fedora claims to be a community distribution that *is* more than a
beta for RHEL.

I believe the quality of the product that our community creates is a
clear expression of this fact; the make-up of the board, however, does
not. With things as they stand, Red Hat has an overarching influence
on the direction of Fedora and has enormous influence in the direction
of both Fedora's development and community. Even if the majority were
reversed, with the chair having a veto and Red Hat remaining as the
single biggest presence on the board, this could remain the case.

I trust Red Hat based on their previous actions, and I trust the
members of the board as a result of the work that I've done with you
and all that I've read. Should these matters be left entirely to
trust, however? While a dramatic comparison, the founders of the US
didn't think so, and neither do I think RMS did when he first
formulated the GPL. Another significant question, beyond trust is, can
Fedora truly be seen as (or truly be) a distribution that is run and
produced by the community, that is more than a beta for RHEL, while a
single company maintains the most significant influence over the
project.

Another interesting comparison is to England. We have an entirely
elected lower house, the Commons, while our upper house is partially
elected, partially appointed, and partially made up of hereditary
peers - the Lords. The current debate here is whether hereditary and
appointed peers are an acceptable state of affairs in a modern
democracy, especially following a recent scandal where the government
was found to have appointed some peers following large donations to
the party. I believe it's a similar question in the Fedora Project
(that's not to say I believe anybody currently involved in Fedora or
Red Hat is likely to engage in similar actions!), although
interestingly we have no wholly elected lower house who holds greater
power than the upper house; in fact, it's the reverse!

That Red Hat is our financial backer is a significant part of the
equation, but it's not the only one. Without the time contributed by
members of the community, the money would mean nothing, especially in
a distribution where we hold as a matter of pride that over half our
packages are maintained by those outside Red Hat. In my opinion, this
time is as valuable a commodity as the money put in by Red Hat and as
such questions the justification for the chair being both solely
appointed by Red Hat and having a veto.

I think this sums up my concerns about the current system. As I've
tried to stress, I have no idea of their validity and I hope they
don't offend anybody. I have complete faith in the current board and
Red Hat as things stand, and I admire the work done by all enormously;
this is the reason I choose to spend my time contributing to this
project in whatever way I can.

Best wishes all,

Jon

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Old 04-21-2008, 11:32 AM
Jesse Keating
 
Default Elected/Appointed Board

On Mon, 2008-04-21 at 10:48 +0100, Jonathan Roberts wrote:
> although
> interestingly we have no wholly elected lower house who holds greater
> power than the upper house; in fact, it's the reverse!

Actually we have FESCo, the Fedora Engineering Steering Committee, which
is wholly elected, and often the place where real decisions get made.
The Fedora board is good at setting high level goals and desires, but it
really comes down to FESCo and the other committees (like releng,
packaging, spins, etc...) to turn that high level ideal into tangible
decisions and direction.

--
Jesse Keating
Fedora -- All my bits are free, are yours?
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Old 04-21-2008, 11:54 AM
Jeroen van Meeuwen
 
Default Elected/Appointed Board

Jonathan Roberts wrote:

[...snip...]


Correct me if I'm wrong, most of the Red Hat people involved with Fedora
are actually community members that just so happen to get a paycheck
(good for them, and as it turns out; good for everyone!).


That being said, the majority in the board is community no matter if
they were elected or got appointed. In fact, the one with veto didn't
work for Red Hat until 6-7(?) weeks ago.


Kind regards,

Jeroen van Meeuwen
-kanarip

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Old 04-21-2008, 05:02 PM
"Jon Stanley"
 
Default Elected/Appointed Board

On Mon, Apr 21, 2008 at 7:54 AM, Jeroen van Meeuwen <kanarip@kanarip.com> wrote:

> Correct me if I'm wrong, most of the Red Hat people involved with Fedora
> are actually community members that just so happen to get a paycheck (good
> for them, and as it turns out; good for everyone!).

There is also no requirement that the Red Hat-appointed members of the
board have to be Red Hat employees. They historically have been,
however.

There however is, and should be, a requirement that the chair be
employed by Red Hat (and have veto power). This is an emergency
override, like Rahul said, the plane is crashing and calling
'Mayday!'. Not that I think that it ever has been nor ever will be
utilized, it's something that's important to have in the back pocket.
As a real world analogy, when I go bicycling, I wear a helmet. I
really hope it never will be necessary, but you get piece of mind from
knowing that it's there in case you need it.

> That being said, the majority in the board is community no matter if they
> were elected or got appointed. In fact, the one with veto didn't work for
> Red Hat until 6-7(?) weeks ago.

And Paul was a trusted community leader prior to being hired by Red
Hat, and continues to be so afterwards. I don't think that his
priorities have really changed now that he gathers a paycheck from Red
Hat (he certainly has more time to act on those priorities, though!
).

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Old 04-21-2008, 07:46 PM
"Karsten 'quaid' Wade"
 
Default Elected/Appointed Board

On Mon, 2008-04-21 at 13:02 -0400, Jon Stanley wrote:
> On Mon, Apr 21, 2008 at 7:54 AM, Jeroen van Meeuwen <kanarip@kanarip.com> wrote:
>
> > Correct me if I'm wrong, most of the Red Hat people involved with Fedora
> > are actually community members that just so happen to get a paycheck (good
> > for them, and as it turns out; good for everyone!).
>
> There is also no requirement that the Red Hat-appointed members of the
> board have to be Red Hat employees. They historically have been,
> however.
>
> There however is, and should be, a requirement that the chair be
> employed by Red Hat (and have veto power). This is an emergency
> override, like Rahul said, the plane is crashing and calling
> 'Mayday!'. Not that I think that it ever has been nor ever will be
> utilized, it's something that's important to have in the back pocket.
> As a real world analogy, when I go bicycling, I wear a helmet. I
> really hope it never will be necessary, but you get piece of mind from
> knowing that it's there in case you need it.

It is also used as a tie-breaker. We had a tie a few weeks ago over
(*holds breath*) Codeina/Codec Buddy, right there live in IRC, and Paul
had to make the decision. Not sure how often this happens. Was his
decision the will of the community just because it potentially aligned
with a portion of them? Jon is arguing, aiui, "No."

- Karsten
--
Karsten Wade, Sr. Developer Community Mgr.
Dev Fu : http://developer.redhatmagazine.com
Fedora : http://quaid.fedorapeople.org
gpg key : AD0E0C41
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