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NeddySeagoons' Trustee Election 2008 Manifesto


1.  Overview


The Gentoo Foundation needs to be put on a sound footing and made to operate like a well cared for machine. What is more, it needs to be seen to be operating in this way. As the recent discussions on gentoo-nfp, gentoo-project and assorted blogs show, appearance is very important. In the rest of this document I have set out my objectives that I would try to carry though, if I were elected to serve on the Gentoo Foundation as a trustee.

2.  My Background

About Me and the Skills I Can Contribute

My background is electronics hardware engineering, in which I was formally trained and have practiced throughout my career. Early in my career, there were no software engineers, project software was produced by hardware engineers with either an interest or a need. As time passed and I was promoted through team lead, project technical lead, project manager, managing a portfolio of projects all with mixed hardware and software content I had to develop the soft skills of successfully managing individuals to achieve a common goal. Its a process which others have likened to 'cat herding'

As a trustee, I bring familiarity with hardware, software, project management and people skills. As applied to Gentoo, you can do some checks for yourself. Read a few of my Gentoo forums posts. As an active forums poster and #gentoo helper I already share my skills and knowledge with users of all abilities, thus am well aware of the views and priorities of our user base. While I do not contribute technically to Gentoo, I do keep up with developments by reading and understanding the technical mailing lists.

There is a rumour that I am Gentoos' oldest developer, which I doubt but I do not deny.

3.  Short Term Goals - The First Three Months

Communication Communication Communication

The new trustees need to get used to their roles before we change the way the Gentoo Foundation operates. I don't plan to do anything revolutionary in the first three months after taking office

First and foremost is resolving the legal status of the Gentoo Foundation, if that is not resolved before the new trustees take office. I hope that those working as if they were trustees now, (regardless of their actual status) can be persuaded to continue their activity to ensure a smooth handover to the new trustees.

Improve Communications Between the Trustees and Gentoo Foundation Members

The system of regular IRC meetings, publishing logs and summaries that the council has, seems to work well, there is no need to invent something else. Lets just do it. The Gentoo Foundation has a wider membership than developers and users. It includes anyone who has voted in a Gentoo Foundation election. We must keep the entire electorate informed.

Council members and Trustees can attend one anothers meetings. I already attend Council meetings and I don't plan to change that if I am elected a Trustee.

Improve Communications Between the Trustees and the Council

Maybe that is a non problem but with no visibility of Gentoo Foundation activities, I'm not sure.

Improve Communications With Foundation Members, Developers and Users.

This is more complex and more controversial than the first two as 'users' is not clearly within the Gentoo Foundations current remit.

Continuity - Incoming

Ensure that some of the people who have been trustees are around for a handover - they have already said it didn't happen for them which made it difficult to get started. With the good work done over the last few months, we don't want to drop the ball again. In the same timeframe, add in PR. Its all very well this communication going on but it needs to be seen to happen. There is no need for us to re-invent anything. We can examine what works elsewhere in Gentoo and in other Open Source communities and build on what has already been achieved elsewhere.

The Gentoo Foundation Bylaws

The Gentoo Foundation Bylaws need to be reviewed and ratified by the trustees as a matter of urgency.

There are a few strange clauses related to Gentoo Foundation membership that mean that over time, the majority of Foundation members would have little or no interest in Gentoo but would have most of the votes. There are a few wrinkles like that to iron out before the draft rules can be adopted.

4.  Medium Term Goals - Three to Six Months

Looking Towards the Future

With the Gentoo Foundation operating on a regular sound footing, the Trustees can look towards the future. There are three options to consider for the Gentoo Foundations future :-

  • We maintain the Gentoo Foundation
  • We join the SFC
  • We join the Software In The Public Interest, Inc (SPI)

We maintain the Gentoo Foundation

Its perfectly clear looking at the history of the Gentoo Foundation, that this is not something that the Gentoo technical developers are interested in. That is understandable, it is not a technical job. For the Gentoo Foundation to be a long term success, we must examine ways of attracting people with other than technical interests to Gentoo, so that they become developers and thus are eligible to become Trustees, or find a way to permit members of our users base to serve as trustees. I'm sure that is a controversial proposal, however it ties in with the Foundations stated objective of furthering the best interests of Gentoo. It will also get users more involved in Gentoo, so it addresses several perceived problems in one go.

Provide Continuity - Outgoing

Even if I am elected, my term of office will come to an end. I would like to put in place staggered Trustee elections so that at most, only half the seats are contested at any time. This helps ensure a smooth handover.

We Join the SFC or the SPI

These are potential alternatives to running our own Foundation. While they probably do a very good job, they will not have Gentoo as their first priority. I would only support this if we really cannot find a way to staff our own Foundation adequately, within the Gentoo Foundation rules as we are allowed to write them under the laws of the land.

I prefer that Gentoo should keep control of its own destiny as far as possible but the long term protection of Gentoos' assets is more important than who does it and how. Its a topic for the trustees to address before the 2009 Gentoo Trustee election. I don't intend to suggest that the future of the Gentoo Foundation will be determined in the three to six month time frame - its far to important and involved for that. Only that work will start/continue within that time.

5.  Long Term Goals - Over Six Months

To build on what has gone before. Should the trustees determine that we will wind up the Foundation and join the SFC or SPI then none of this matters as the Gentoo Foundation does not have a long term future.

Play a Bigger Part in the Non Technical Management of Gentoo

With the Gentoo Foundation staffed with 'middle management' it is ideally skilled to help the Council, by taking on responsibility for the non-technical aspects of Gentoo. While I hate to cite "matrix management" as an example, Gentoo has grown to such a size that some bureaucracy is needed to ensure the project runs smoothly from both technical and administration perspectives. Provided the Gentoo Foundation can attract people with administration experience, the Gentoo Foundation can work closely with the Council to take on these roles. The 'admin' side includes all the 'soft' people related tasks like recruitment, public relations, user relations and so on.

6.  A Final Word to Voters

The trustees have to work as a team - think about that when you vote. They have to get along together and collectively have the skills to manage the Gentoo Foundation. I am standing because I think I have some of those skills. If you decide to vote for me, please also vote for candidates who can contribute other skills. Feel free to ping me on IRC or drop me an email if you feel you need clarification of any of my views ans opinions

In closing I would like to thank all the members of the Gentoo Foundation who have served as trustees in the past for getting us where we are today and all the unidentified helpers who have supported them.


Page updated February 2, 2008

Summary: NeddySeagoons' Gentoo Foundation Election Platform


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