On 5 July 2018 at 10:34, Christian Bruckmayer <cbruckmayer(a)suse.com> wrote:
On 07/05/2018 02:24 AM, Simon Lees wrote:
> Yes we have no intention of moving away from
our great relationship with
> > SUSE, at the same time there have been financial restrictions / >
> limitations with our current arrangement that have made it impossible to >
> work with organizations outside of SUSE with our current setup (example >
> below), this and other less major issues have lead the board to believe >
> that we need an alternative solution at times when dealing with sponsors >
> outside of SUSE, If SUSE finds it beneficial to also use this > alternative
> solution at times then they are more then welcome too but we > are expecting
> that atleast most of the time they probably wont. > > As I mentioned in a
> previous email last year google offered to sponsor > openSUSE in order to to
> send some people involved in GSoC to an event, > at the time SUSE's budgets
> were frozen and they were unable to accept / > use this money on openSUSE's
> behalf and as a result people missed out on > traveling to an event that
> would have been fully paid for. The board is > very keen to ensure that such
> a situation does not happen again and that > we have an alternative way of
> accepting the sponsorship. Even if this > alternative way is only ever used
> sparingly in cases when SUSE can't > accept the money for whatever reason or
> in cases where I third party > doesn't want to donate via SUSE because they
> have no way of confirming > the money they donate will actually be spent on
As I was the Google Summer of Code admin the last three years, I
give some more insights.
openSUSE participates since many years in GSoC. To reward the organizations,
Google offers every year a donation. This donation is usually 1100 USD
travel stipend for two mentors + 500 USD for every student we mentored (+
500 additional travel stipend). For openSUSE it was usually around 5-6k USD.
The mentor travel stipend is intended to send two mentors to the annual GSoC
mentor summit at the Google campus in Sunnyvale.
As openSUSE has no bank account, the only way to accept money (in an
official way) is to use a SUSE account. However, we needed to use a
MicroFocus account in the end. Therefore every year I have several long
conversations with people from MF accounting and legal if we're allowed
(this is not a very common scenario for SUSE as we usually SELL something
before we receive money) and how we can accept the money (every year it
starts again because people left, process changed etc etc). After we finally
get all the information and approval to send the money to a MF account, the
money "vanishes" and I need to tell the openSUSE board to state this money
in the next "budget planning" (not sure what happens exactly behind the
scenes here). If this process would be feasible if I wouldn't be a SUSE
employee, I don't know!
So the issue we had last year was that we received the travel stipend from
Google but we were not allowed to spend it because of the frozen budget.
This caused some frustration among our mentors.
If this is the only issue we have with receiving / spending money, than an
openSUSE foundation might be overkill. If there are more issues like this...
While nothing Christian says above is untrue, it's worth pointing out
that in almost every year we've been involved in GSoC, SUSE's has
ensured openSUSE has been able to spend money supporting GSoC greater
to or equal to the amount of money received from Google - (in the form
of sponsoring travel of mentors to the mentorship summit and
sponsoring via the TSP for GSoC students to visit oSC)
Ever since SUSE started receiving money from Google for openSUSE's
participation in GSoC, Ralf Flaxa (President of Engineering) has
assured openSUSE would be able to count of reciprocal sponsorship from
SUSE. This remains a principle without question.
As far as I am aware, there has been one time when that principle was
blocked by practical problems.
Last year, where the timing of the GSoC mentorship summit co-coincided
with a budget freeze within SUSE.
This of course also impacted openSUSE's ability to sponsor anything,
not just GSoC. For example all TSP requests had to be frozen at the
same time, for the same reason, not just the GSoC mentorship
This was a brief freeze while the details of MicroFocus's merger with
HPE was sorted out, but due to the narrow timing available for the
GSoC mentorship summit, some mentors were unable to secure funding to
This was a very atypical situation. It's the only time I can think of
where such an internal matter within SUSE impacted openSUSE in any
Talking not only around GSoC but generally, it is common for almost
every justified request for sponsorship from openSUSE to be approved
"No, SUSE won't pay for that" is not a sentence I've had the
displeasure of writing very often as Chairman.
Still, it sucks when SUSE's situation gets in the way of what openSUSE
wants to do. It happened once, it might happen again.
It is good to discuss this issues, and it would be nice to have ways
and means of avoiding/mitigating against such race occurrences.
Having something like membership to SPI on the side of our
relationship with SUSE might be a relatively low effort method of
But of course, that option too might be open to similar risks as our
current arrangement with SUSE.
Who is to say that as a collective organisation SPI or SFConservancy
might not have periods of their own budget freezes that could
similarly impact openSUSE?
Any large organisation is going to have times where some of their
services provided may or may not be as available as normal.
That doesn't mean whole independence is the solution either -
governance can be tricky, who'll controls such bank accounts? who will
have access to it? will there always be access in time for situations
like the narrow-window we often have for things like arranging GSoC
mentorship summit? Even then, banks fail, currencies fluxuate, credit
limits exist, currency transfers can be limited, taxes need to be
The way I see it, every option, from the status quo, to an umbrella,
to full independence, doesn't guarantee openSUSE will never have a
repeat of last years GSoC mentorship sponsorship problems.
In short, shit happens.
The question is, which shit are we as a community most happy to have?
My vote at the moment would be the status quo, not only because it's
the 'devil we know' - but it's the least work for openSUSE, and there
is the cathartic benefit of being able to blame SUSE when SUSE make
mistakes..and such hiccups have always led to SUSE making improvements
for openSUSE long term.
There's benefits to having a multi-billion dollar company so close and
caring for a community.
The amount of times SUSE dives in and goes above and beyond to shift
money, staff, hardware, influence in other organisations/conferences,
or other things to benefit openSUSE is far more than the one or two
examples where SUSE's business/processes/etc gets in the projects way.
The umbrealla/SPI option is not one I'm opposed to, but in many
respects it brings many of the same risks, just under a different
It might be worth while - diversifying and spreading the risk across
two organisations might mean the openSUSE project always has a plan B.
But I'm only most comfortable with the idea on the premise that we
keep almost everything we have with SUSE right now the same; I think
we should just be pursuing joining an umbrella like SPI -in-addition-
to our current relationship with SUSE, not instead of.
I'm least keen on the fully independent, all-on-our-own foundation
model. It's the most work, with the most risk, and if/when anything
gets screwed up it will be all our own fault, with the least options
for rectifying it. SUSE won't be able to do as much as they can today
to dive in and help when things go wrong, so we'll have less of a
I don't see how any of the perceived or practical benefits of that
model would justify taking that sort of risk with the Project.
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