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Re: [CentOS-devel] Minutes for CentOS Board of Directors 2019-11-13 Meeting

Hi Karsten,

Thank you for the update.

That's great news. Will the process be similar to how it's done in the Fedora Project [1]? So with a public list of nominees, published interview with each nominee and public voting results? Is there a way for the Community to (self-)nominate?

For better Community coverage perhaps CentOS Board related postings could also be sent to the centos-announce and centos mailinglists?

Thanks,
Patrick

[1] <a href="https://docs.fedoraproject.org/en-US/program_management/elections/" title="https://docs.fedoraproject.org/en-US/program_management/elections/">https://docs.fedoraproject.org/en-US/program_management/elections/</a>

Comments

Re: Minutes for CentOS Board of Directors 2019-11

By Karsten Wade at 12/13/2019 - 14:03

Hi Patrick,

Sorry I missed this before, just found the discussion when working on
the current agenda. I'll be sure to watch more carefully in the future,
part of the reason for sending to this list is to have these discussions.

Rest of my lengthy answers inline below:

On 11/27/19 9:34 AM, Patrick Laimbock wrote:
Jim already gave a succinct answer, but I thought you might be
interested in my complete response.

The short metaphorical answer is, where it comes to good transparency,
the Board is just learning to crawl. As much as we want to begin working
toward a marathon, we know we need to get through to learning to walk first.

In order to be successful at what you describe, we need more time as an
active and proper open source project.

Fedora Project existed for many years with a high standard of
transparency before the original Fedora Board was created. It then
started as a blend of appointed (like me!) and elected Board members.
Having been through that evolution, I have an intimate idea of how much
longer it can take and more complex it can be than the ideal of e.g.
starting from scratch with a new project.

By comparison, my reckoning is the CentOS Project only began to act like
a proper open source project around the time the Virt SIG was created to
support the Xen kernel. Of course, the joining of forces with Red Hat
was at the core an effort to create a contributor-centric project but
primarily around the SIGs; we left other parts e.g. core Linux building
alone as "don't break". Not forever, but for a while, and now that five
yeas has passed, it's more than time to improve those parts, too.

We've built on that plan with SIGs so now it is possible to contribute
to a sizeable part of the project. But with the mix of legacy
infrastructure, technical and governance debt from the last 7+ years,
and the changing needs of a contributor base ...

Frankly IMO, today we do not have a large enough community of leaders
who could be nominated, nor a mature enough contributor base to hold
voting. This is largely the fault of the existing leadership,
specifically those of us on the Board of Directors. Lack of transparency
and lack of focus on growing leaders I think are at the core of that
situation. People have stepped up and tried, and not been enabled or
supported as well as they could have been.

The project has definitely been moving toward better transparency, to
the point where the most obvious transparency problems are at the top of
the governance.

So we need a little more time before holding open elections in order to
realize things such as transparency norms, consistent and productive
meetings, and clear evolution.

What I mean about on-topic is that the Board deals with issues affecting
contributors, who themselves are the interaction points with their
userbase. If I were an end user of e.g. RDO, I would find it confusing
that in addition to RDO leadership there is this group above the Cloud
SIG making decisions, should I be worried about them, what is going on, etc.

So the norm so far has been to have SIGs communicate with their
userbases, including the Core SIG and CentOS Linux users. (Don't be too
confused that some of the people in the Core SIG are also Directors; in
wearing different hats, we have to be prepared to speak from different
authority points.)

We can change up that norm, but I think it's worth discussing with the
SIG leaders how they want Board communication handled for their
userbase. Does that make sense?

So for this time I'm just sending to the contributor list and posting on
the blog. Let's keep discussing and see if there is a consensus on if
and how to include the userbase in this transparency, perhaps as soon as
the Jan 2020 meeting.

Best regards,

- Karsten

Re: Minutes for CentOS Board of Directors 2019-11

By Tim Bell at 12/13/2019 - 14:14

Karsten,

Thanks for the updates and all of the directors efforts in the direction of more transparency. These initiatives do take time to evolve and from our side, we appreciate the work which is going on.

One possible option for the future would be to provide observer status for the board meetings. This would allow interested parties to listen in and follow the activities. My experience of open source project board meetings is that this also helps for those who might be interested to get involved in project governance to understand the discussions (and in some cases determine there are other areas they would prefer to devote their efforts :-)

Tim

Re: Minutes for CentOS Board of Directors 2019-11

By Karsten Wade at 12/13/2019 - 16:56

On 12/13/19 2:14 PM, Tim Bell wrote:
Hi Tim

As it happens, Rich Bowen and I have been talking through an idea for
something like an advisory council that would be involved in discussions
during a portion of a Board meeting, for much the similar purpose you
describe. This is an idea that has come up a few times from various
Directors over the last several years.

The item didn't make it on the Dec agenda because we're still working up
the proposal; I think Jan is likely. My plan is to put out the proposal
here prior to the meeting to get some initial feedback on how it's
structured and would begin.

My personal thinking is to follow the iterative opening-up method --
start with an invited group of people in a closed but public
agenda/minutes session; do that for a period of time such as 6 months;
then see when we might transition to adding more ways to observe in real
time or via recording.

This is all about balancing the needs of the various stakeholders, which
range from small to large end users, upstream projects dependent on
CentOS in various ways, Red Hat engineering and product groups that work
upstream and downstream from CentOS, the various SIGs, ISVs, IHVs, and
all their network of relationships, and so forth. Out of simplicity and
an abundance of caution we got this  started on a private-only track 6
years ago, and deeply appreciate the patience of folks as we untangle
old and present needs into better leadership.

Best,

- Karsten

Re: Minutes for CentOS Board of Directors 2019-11

By Rich Bowen at 12/13/2019 - 14:20

+1 to observers.

And thank you to the board for having these hard conversations about
transparency, and being willing to admit past failings and move forward
boldly.

Re: Minutes for CentOS Board of Directors 2019-11

By Jim Perrin at 12/03/2019 - 11:46

On 11/27/19 6:34 AM, Patrick Laimbock wrote:
It's something we could consider, but this isn't how it's been discussed
so far.

I'm sort of against sending these to -announce, but only because we have
a number of people who parse that list with automated tooling, not
because folks actually read it. I don't want to change expectations and
tooling without a good reason. I could see sending to the centos main
list though.