Quantumsummers' Gentoo Foundation Manifesto

Gentoo is about choice. As this year's election draws near, all foundation members must take note that there is a very important choice to be made. This choice has little to do with any interesting technical or scientific matter. We must choose between allowing the Foundation itself to stagnate, or to set about carefully building the Foundation into an organization that is able to sustain and empower Gentoo for years to come. To me the choice is simple and obvious. I love Gentoo, and I want to see it grow and thrive. The systematic implementation of goals, planning, and rigorous evaluation required to responsibly take the action to follow this course is not as simple nor as obvious. Towards this, I have detailed a set of five (5) goals, with plans, below. The goal of primary importance for the Foundation is to gain 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. This is an absolute necessity, and from this many things that follow depend. Another goal of exceptional importance and far reaching consequence deals specifically with fund raising and illuminates several possible resource streams that are available. The third goal tackles what, in my view, could become a reliable source of talent for Gentoo in all areas, not just traditional developers but also individuals with expertise in other areas that the Foundation and Project need. The forth is designed to increase community participation and general awareness of what Gentoo can offer, not only to developers, engineers, and scientists, but also to small business owners, parents, and kids. The final goal, and perhaps the most important of all, addresses the sustainability and future growth of Gentoo as a whole and provides concrete plans to facilitate this achievement.

Please note: I am committed to the philosophy of open source + open society, and thus am happy to entertain discourse on any and all points set out in the following.

Regarding my personal qualifications for this specific position, I believe that I am uniquely qualified. With formal training in engineering and the physical science, and over two (2) years of experience running a business that deals directly with many non-profit organizations all over the United States I possess the skills that the Gentoo Foundation needs at this time. Further, I believe that I have the demeanor necessary for generating compromise from a large number of valid, yet seemingly disparate, interests. In my mind the words of Thomas Edison say it best, and I quote "...there are no rules here, we're trying to accomplish something."

For a more indepth treatment of my interests and history with Gentoo, I point you to a podcast interview hosted by Linux Crazy's David Abbott, a fine Gentoo Foundation Member, found here

Update: Request for comments and feedback on the Gentoo Forum here

Goal 1: File for 501(c)(3) status

The highest priority of the Gentoo Foundation is to apply for tax exempt 501 (c)(3) status from the federal government. This filing will make the Gentoo Foundation a non-profit organization, increasing financial and operational benefits for the foundation, as well as opening up considerable opportunities for funding. With 501 (c)(3) status, the Gentoo Foundation would be able to apply for a plethora of new private, state, and federal grants, attract a higher number and larger amounts of corporate, small business, and individual donations because of tax deductions, and lower the overall long term operating costs.

To access and submit the 501(c)(3) application, go to the IRS website. Instructions for completing the form, as well as a checklist of necessary information, are available on the web site. The application process normally takes about nine (9) months, but an organization can receive a letter of temporary 501 (c)(3) status while they wait for their full application to be processed. Once an organization receives a temporary status, it may begin applying for grants and federal funding as a non-profit organization.

Applying for 501 (c)(3) status opens up a number of new avenues for funding and growth that are not available to other types of corporations, allowing the Gentoo Foundation to move far beyond the limits it has already reached. Many of the following goals can only be made possible through the additional opportunities and funding that 501 (c)(3) status would bring to the foundation. This goal, being first priority, can lead to the reality of all of the following goals and many more.

Goal 2: Seek Additional Funding

The next goal for the Gentoo Foundation is to increase revenue by five hundred percent (500%) over the next five (5) years. This can be accomplished via two (2) distinct means. One, by applying for private, state, and federal grants that could not be awarded to the Gentoo Foundation before 501 (c)(3) status. Each of these grants should reflect and reinforce the mission of the Gentoo Project and Foundation. And two, through donations from individuals, small business, and corporations who will be more willing to support the Gentoo Foundation once their donations become tax deductible. The additional financial support will open up a vast amount of opportunities to the Gentoo Foundation for expansion, partnerships, and outreach. The feasibility and success of most of the following goals are directly related to the additional funding that could be made possible through increasing donations over the next five (5) years, while grants generally fund specific programs.

Finally, it is imperative that we structurally reorganize how Gentoo solicits and rewards donors for their contribution. It is no longer enough to have a page for sponsors and some advertising in the side bar. Having researched this in the OSS community there exists several simple models that appear to work well for their respective organization. I propose we adopt a model similar to Friends of Gnome for individual donors, and a model similar to the Twisted Software Foundation for businesses. Both of these models provide several levels of donorship for individuals and companies, while providing many benefits to both donors and Gentoo. One particularly impactful complement to donorship that has a strong record amongst may non-profits outside the OSS ecosystem is the demonstration of what their donation has facilitated via press release, web display, or mailing. With the right data system we could publish this kind of information in real time!

Goal 3: Establish Strategic Partnerships

With the additional financial support, the Gentoo Foundation should next focus on the future and sustainability of the Project and Foundation. The Gentoo Foundation should initially strive to partner with 5 top universities, creating internship programs across many areas of need such as documentation, public relations, and non-profit management and program development. These internship programs would not only promulgate the philosophy and goals of the Gentoo Project and Foundation but also help replenish the vital developer and volunteer pools year after year.

In point of fact, I successfully implemented a documentation internship program through my company, Liquidus Tech, last summer with the graduate school of technical writing at Missouri State University. The interns learned a great deal, and were very positive regarding their experience. This was a small experiment to see if such a program would be effective, and I believe that a larger version would be immensely beneficial to Gentoo over the long term.

The Gentoo Foundation should also pursue a partnership with K-12 school districts and organizations helping to implement open source programs and standards in these schools. One such organization is K12OpenSource.com, a collaborative effort to organize and bring the benefits of Open Source Software and training to K-12 educational organizations. Partnering with such organizations and providing training to young developers will only increase the number and abilities of developers as they progress through their education. This partnership will also help to introduce more cost effective solutions to all school districts, especially those facing financial restrictions when it comes to computer equipment and training.

Finally, Gentoo can increase its visibility in the computing world by joining forces with other OSS non-profits and foundations like the Linux Foundation, the Free Software Foundation, and many others. Gentoo is a shining example of the symbiance of open source software, we have the opportunity to make the Foundation represent that in its interaction with other pillars of the community.

Goal 4: Expand Strategic Marketing Efforts

The Gentoo Foundation should also strive to bolster community participation and recruiting efforts as another way to help increase the current developer and volunteer pools. Such a goal could be met by integrating extended web services, such as a social networking, into the current offering, and increasing the number of press releases and articles relating to real world implemetations of Gentoo that demonstrate the flexibility we, as users and developers, have come to depend on.

The foundation should also plan and implement participatory functions that involve all aspects of Gentoo and its community, such as a Gentoo art contest, a screen cast tutorial contest, and an alternative architecture implementation contest, just to name a few. All of these projects would increase the involvement of the current Gentoo community and perhaps even draw in new members and developers. The output of these functions will greatly increase the visibility of Gentoo in the OSS community. Gentoo has long been known to have superb documentation, and the proposals above would only add to the respect already earned. Further, as operational knowledge becomes more accessible, I believe we will see greater adoption of Gentoo across organizations, both small and large, as well as individual adoption.

Goal 5: Pursue Foundation Growth and Expansion

The foundation and all of its members should continually strive to increase the awareness of and involvement in the Gentoo Foundation by reaching out to potential and existing developers across the OSS ecosystem as well as outside it.

With the assistance of additional donations, the foundation should plan and implement a foundation subsidized developer and user conference where developer expenses would be completely or partially compensated by the foundation, dependent on financial need. Making such a conference more affordable will undoubtedly increase the interest and attendance, and in return, allow even more like-minded developers and users come together to plan the future of Gentoo.

Another concrete plan that has some interest in the community is to establish an official Gentoo Certification Curriculum. The general idea is similar to what is offered by the Red Hat Certified Engineer Program and others. With this the Foundation could generate revenue while also serving the professional community with standards for multi-architecture implementation that highlight the power and flexibility Gentoo.

In addition to this, the Gentoo Project and Foundation should plan and implement an infrastructure development strategy spanning the next five years. This will facilitate many of the service additions detailed above, while also allowing scalability as the community grows.

Finally, the Gentoo Foundation should purchase and provide hardware based on alternative architectures to the various projects with an emphasis on mobile devices, embedded systems and high-performance, low cost server products. One of Gentoo's great strengths is its cross platform nature. We currently support more architectures than any other Linux distribution, and we should continue to expand. Only by careful planning and budgeting can we make this happen.

Conclusion

I wish to thank the entire Gentoo community and the Board of Trustees for facilitating my involvement with the Foundation and for the opportunity to run for election to the board. I am committed to working towards the stated goals of the Project and Foundation. It has been an honor to serve in the capacity that I have, and I certainly am hopeful for the future regardless of whether I am elected or not. I am dedicated to promoting Gentoo, to advocating for its growth, and to working hard to make Gentoo a great experience for everyone.

Last updated on 01 March 2009 | quantumsummers

I will update this document over the next couple of days.