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Re: A summary of some open discussions

From: Mark Wielaard
Subject: Re: A summary of some open discussions
Date: Fri, 20 Dec 2019 00:39:33 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.12.2 (2019-09-21)

Hi Alfred,

On Wed, Dec 18, 2019 at 05:22:36AM -0500, Alfred M. Szmidt wrote:
>    It summarizes things as I see them personally. But maybe some
>    of this can be the start of discussion pages once we have a
>    collaborative wiki to work them out further.
> It is not so open when you remove peoples posts to your blog.  But
> this is getting into kindergarden territory, seeing you are neither
> willing to listen to reason, and spread intentional falsehoods.  Here
> is what I tried posting.

I don't see a posting by you. Maybe it got stuck in some spam trap?
But I am happy to clarify on the list.

>     New GNU Governance
>       There is now a public discussion[1] about GNU governance issues as
>       described in this LWN article: Rethinking the governance of the
>       GNU Project[2]. We have had private discussion about GNU governance
>       issues for the last couple of decades between GNU maintainers, but
>       that never resulted in actual change.
> This is simply untrue, things have happened in this time frame -- for
> example the GAC.

Yes, there were various experiments with the GNU Assembly and the GAC.
But I don't believe either experiment did actually change things so
that we got a well defined governance structure. For example, as the
name suggest the GAC is just advisory. We need committees who are
actually empowered to make decissions.

>     Mentoring and apprenticeship
>       We started with a description of how various GNU projects handle
>       mentoring and apprenticeship[5]. Once a GNU maintainer is assigned as
>       the FSF steward of a project/package there are lots of documents on
>       coding standards and what it means for a project to be GNU and Free
>       Software. 
> There is no such thing as a FSF steward, GNU maintainers are appointed
> by RMS/GAC.  The FSF has no say in the topic.  You've keept
> misrepresenting this over and over again.

This is just a legal technicallity. The FSF has oversight
responsibility over the GNU project. That means that the FSF needs to
determine that GNU maintainers operate in a manner consistent with
FSF's exempt purposes, have the needed expertise and that their
activities can be monitored by the FSF board. So GNU Maintainers and
Steering committees are technically appointed by the FSF (previously
RMS when he was FSF president and board member) as stewards of GNU
packages. Basically GNU maintainers serve at the pleasure of the FSF.

>       But there is no core guideline and a GNU maintainer has
>       almost complete freedom interpreting whether any guidelines are or
>       arenât applicable to their project. This results in GNU maintainers
>       reinventing a lot of project maintenance, governance and delegation
>       of tasks. It would be good to document[6] the various (consensus
>       based) development models that are the result.
> This is intentional, as has been explained numerous times over and
> over again.  The GNU project nor its individual projects are consensus
> based.

And that is what we are trying to change.

>       The FSF manages a lot of resources for the GNU project. It holds the
>       trademark, it is entrusted with some of the copyrights, does
>       fundraising and uses the money for technical infrastructure that GNU
>       volunteers can use. Crucially it maintains the infrastructure for
>[24] and for GNU projects to
>       publish their work and coordinate development. But this
>       infrastructure doesn't currently scale and several GNU projects have
>       to maintain[25] their own infrastructure. 
> You've not backed this up with any factual data.  Seeing how many
> projects we are hosting, it seems to scale just fine.  That some
> projects use different infrastrcture, is due to the maintainers having
> made such a decision and nothing else.  They could have equally added
> the missing features to Savannah, or helped the Savannah hackers add
> such features.  
> The GNU project is a volunteer project, and complaining will not make
> things happen.  Did you try to address any of the issues with the
> Savannah hackers?

Of course. And I have nothing than praise for the Savannah hackers and
FSF admins. But some things do take time and some issues are more
urgent for some projects than others. For example for GNU Classpath at
a certain point just couldn't handle the amount of
patches and discussions causing hours of delays. We worked with the
FSF admins to route our lists to our own domain so we could process
them faster. When we discussed the GNU Classpath GPL exception license
text FSF legal needed a wiki to summarize various issues that came
up. Since savannah didn't provide a wiki at that time we set one up on
our own development server. Different projects have different needs
and might need different resources. In general I have been happy with
what the FSF provides, but we do need a more structured way to request
(hardware) resources.



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