This post is one of a series of posts about what open source software projects can do (if they wish to) to make it easier for companies to participate in their projects.
When a company wants to get involved in an open source software, often they need some help understanding how things work. Sometimes it’s the developer who wants to contribute that has questions. Sometimes it’s their management who wants to understand what type of commitment they are making and what they can expect.
An open source software project can make it easier for a corporate contributor to participate by being clear about:
What the release process and schedule looks like.
How long it takes for a PR to be reviewed and how to best position it for acceptance.
Who makes decisions and how.
What roles people in the project play and how they get to those roles.
Where and how to ask questions.
Who is working on the project and what their motivations are. (Is this software to make apps run faster on watches or is it to make apps run on car computers?)
How to find out and stay informed of security issues.
As an open source software maintainer, the more you can help organizations understand how you work and how to work effectively with you, the more likely they are to engage.
If you are looking for an open source governance model, there are two resources to explore.
Red Hat has published the Project and Community Governance Guidebook on GitHub. It covers things from roles of the participants, to how projects evolve (and governance should evolve with them), to policies and procedures.
The FOSS Governance Collection just launched with a collection of governance docs on Zotero. It is a great place to go see real, live documents used by existing open source software projects. (If you work on an open source software project, or just notice that one is missing, please upload the governance docs!)
While the news is about a developer quitting because it’s not “fun”. I think the message – or messages – are deeper than that.
Isn’t it awesome that are free software is developed by people that love doing it? Back when I started the OpenLogic Expert Community, I contacted many maintainers and offered to pay them to fix issues that our customers had. Some of them turned me down because they loved working on open source software and thought payment would change that. (That inspired my Would You Do It Again for Free? talk.) Some of them turned down payment because this was a hobby and if they got payment their family might view it and the time they spend on it differently. They took free tech goodies instead!
Wouldn’t it be great if when what you are working on no longer made sense, you could move on to something better suited for you at the moment? Working on something you love, because you love it, gives you the freedom to say it’s no longer your favorite thing to work on and to move on. You do still have responsibilities but in this case, it sounds like there was good backup.
Feedback. I do hope that the GNOME community takes this feedback as an opportunity to explore how things are going. They should survey other users and figure out if this is an individual problem or a systemic problem and how they might prevent it from happening in the future.
It is a positive sign that the GNOME project – or this part of it – had a clear and positive succession plan.
Again I think the title doesn’t capture the importance here.
Governance is very important to every open source software project. It’s important when you set it governance to determine how councils, boards and advisory boards are going to work. Who is going to be on them? What criteria determines who is on them? What are they supposed to discuss? What do they get to decide or control? How do their decisions get implemented?
And projects evolve. You need to continue to examine the governance structure and make sure it’s still working. Sometimes advisory groups are created to raise money or to make marketing decisions. And later they start making technical decisions. What does that mean? Should the group evolve? Or is a different part of the project experiencing difficulties that this group is trying to fill in for?
While I don’t know specifically what happened with the Ubuntu Community Council, it is normal for projects to have governing structures that change and evolve over time. As they set it back up, it will be important to figure out who is on it, how people get added and removed, what their charter is and how their decisions will be implemented.
This is the fantasy and science fiction section of the only used English bookstore in the late 80s in Barcelona. I was so excited when my dad found it. It was run by a woman from the Netherlands. She would buy any scifi books I had for half the price she could sell them for. She’d also buy back the ones I bought and read. My dad pitched in the other half. (They were not cheap. I seem to remember the used price was about the new price in the US.)
Every summer my uncle Larry Nelson would give me a box of scifi books in South Dakota that would eventually make their way to this shop in Spain. On a trip to London Dad and I found a used book store that just sold scifi and I came back with a suitcase full!
It was a long walk from our house in Barcelona to this store with no good public transport connections.
(There was also a store that sold new – very expensive – English books near our apartment. On each visit, my dad talked to the owner long enough that I would manage to read an entire book over several visits. I don’t think that was his intent. )
Do you miss the hallway track at conferences? All those impromptu conversations with other people that care about open source software? Me too! So we are setting aside some time to have a virtual hallway track.
Topic: Growing leaders in open source (Or wherever the conversation goes! It’s the hallway track!)
I’ve been looking for a fun space opera series and I found one in the Wayfarer series by Becky Chambers. It’s a fun series that combines space travel, human societies in space and other planets and alien species. What I love most about science fiction is how the people and societies adapt to technologies and the new discoveries in the universe.
In the first book, A Long Way to Small, Lonely Planet, a group of friends live and work on a space ship. The characters were instantly likeable – if you work in tech you’ve probably met a few of them. I nicknamed a few of them after people I know.