Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-project (580 mails)

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Re: [opensuse-project] 6 : less than 40 different ppl did send a mail on this list ...
  • From: Richard Brown <RBrownCCB@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 13 Jun 2015 14:12:40 +0200
  • Message-id: <>
Top Posting because I want to broadly address all of the topics spread
across Francoise's recent 6 mailings to this mailinglist.

However, before I start, I want to give very brief history lesson from
my perspective which should hopefully give some context from where I
am coming from.

I've been involved in the Project since it started in 2005. At that
time 'SUSE' (and therefore openSUSE) were owned and operated as a part
of Novell.
Our project was born as a continuation of the 'SUSE Linux' boxed sets,
which were being de-emphasised by Novell while focus was being given
to the 'SUSE Linux Enterprise' product line.
When this Project started it therefore inherited a fair bit from it's
past life as a corporate product. There were Novell employees who were
effectively 'imposed' on the Project, for example we had a 'Program
Manager' and there were roles within the Project which could ONLY be
carried out by Novell employees.
This general 'Novell are in charge' feeling was a source of constant
pain, and even though the Project made huge strides towards improved
Governance, such as when we started having a Board in 2007, the
friction continued to grow.

In 2011 I witnessed firsthand, both in these lists, and in person at
oSC 11, this friction coming to a head, with a strong clear message
from the Project that it wanted more independence and the ability to
set it's own direction.
It's co-incidental that at exactly this time Novell were purchased by
the Attachmate Group, but I saw how this change of Corporate
Leadership gave formerly-Novell, now
SUSE-the-business-unit-within-Attachmate an opportunity to address
those issues.
This trend has continued with the recent merge of the Attachmate Group
with the Microfocus Group, which has expended significant effort to
respect, protect, and improve the relationship between
SUSE-the-corporate sponsor and the openSUSE Project

This was done without much funfair or announcements, but to be honest,
I think this was a good thing as it's allowed a gradual evolution over
the last 4 years. Small, incremental changes over time, which when
combined add up to a dramatic difference from how things were back
However, this recent barrage of threads show there are a number of
misconceptions lurking around so here's my efforts to address them.

So, addressing SUSE's "Dictatorship" of openSUSE, the Community
Manager role, and 'just do it'.

openSUSE is an independent project, run by it's community.
This projects leadership body is the Board, which consists of 6
people, 5 of which are voted on by the community, with the Chairman
(me) appointed by SUSE.
In order to protect against any organisation having absolute control
of the openSUSE Project, no organisation is allowed to have more than
2 elected Board members, meaning that even at a 'worst case' SUSE can
only employ 50% of the openSUSE Projects Board Members. The current
Board only has two SUSE employees (30%), me and Robert.
Since joining the openSUSE Board in 2013, I cannot recall a situation
where I saw any evidence that SUSE exerted any pressure on any Board
member - We *all* act first as openSUSE contributors who in good faith
are trying to do their best for the openSUSE Project.

There is no longer an openSUSE Program Manager hired by Novell/SUSE
with responsibilities to manage the openSUSE Project/Program
There is no longer an openSUSE Community Manager hired by Novell/SUSE
with responsibilities to manage the openSUSE Community
There is no longer an openSUSE Team/Boosters hired by Novell/SUSE to
provide core engineering for the openSUSE Distribution

This Chairman position is the *only* position in the openSUSE Project
where SUSE 'impose' a paid employee with a specific role &
responsibility on the Project which cannot be shared by anyone else.
And in that role, my first responsibility is to act in the best
interest of the openSUSE Project as part of the openSUSE Board. In
addition to that, the Chairman is meant to act bi-direction conduit,
communicating the Projects needs to SUSE and visa versa.

I am not a Dictator, I can think of no example where I've ordered
anyone to do anything. And I would expect people to stare at me funny
and tell me 'no', if I tried.

I also think it's worth considering that as I was a community member
without a email address for many years, and a Board member
elected by this community in 2013.
I believe Management at SUSE considered that when choosing me for the
role of Chairman, and I think goes a way to show the nature of the
relationship they wish to have with openSUSE.

openSUSE is in charge of openSUSE
Every position/role in the community is open for anyone who's willing
and able to do the work. (with the single exception of Chairman)
In order to take a role in the openSUSE community, you need to step up
and do the work. We don't vote, the Board doesn't appoint people to
positions. People need to step up and say "I'm doing this, who's with
me?" and then get to work doing it.

SUSE contribute to openSUSE in that same way, as peers, as equals with
no automatic privilege, power, or control because of their status as
SUSE employees.
This is how they want to operate ("Open Source is in our Genes" is not
just an empty marketing slogan for the company) and in 'real terms'
there are probably more SUSE employees contributing to openSUSE right
now than there ever has been. But we're discussing the roles and
'nature' of their contribution to the openSUSE Project, not the number
of contributors who share the same employer.

If we (the openSUSE community) feel there are things lacking in our
community, roles missing, jobs not getting done, it's our
responsibility, not SUSE's, to find people to do them, and then
actually do them.

Regarding the 'Freight Train'
I think the actual 'members of the Freight Train team' is not important
What is important, is that the 'Freight Train' concept is a promise
from SUSE is that they will take very seriously any reports that
suggest SUSE is failing to "contribute to openSUSE as peers".
For example, there have been 'Freight Train'-style escalations which
were ultimately handled by me and the highest levels of senior
management at SUSE.
That's we the community need to know, SUSE (as an organisation) want
to ensure it's contributes to openSUSE do not unduly impact the
contributions of others to the openSUSE Project, and if there is every
a conflict, it will be dealt with.

Regarding Money
SUSE is currently the primary financial sponsor of the openSUSE Project.
In that role, they administrate the 'openSUSE Projects' money, I think
they act in good faith on behalf of our Project.
They do a lot of work for us which is both very boring and also very
taxing (both in terms of work, and probably also actual TAX).
Since 2011, they have demonstrated their ability to work with the
community to give the community more involvement with how the openSUSE
Project spends the money provided by SUSE, such as the TSP.

Since joining the Board in 2013, I cannot think of a single example
where the openSUSE Project has been prevented from spending money
where we needed it (see Booth Boxes, openSUSE Asia, Hackathons, TSP as
examples all originated by suggestions from the community).
If there are concerns about how SUSE sponsors the openSUSE Project,
I'd like to hear them and I promise to relay them to SUSE, but I don't
think a major restructuring in this area would be beneficial (and who
the heck would be willing to do it anyway?)

Regarding TSP reimbursements (80% vs 100%)
When the TSP was formed, the decision was made by the TSP Team to
reimburse 80% of the travel/hotel costs.
This was to preserve the concept that openSUSE contributors are making
personal sacrifice to do openSUSE stuff (both in terms of time &
money) and that the TSP exists to *help* those people when they need
The TSP is not a reward system for openSUSE contributions. It's not
intended to remove the need for openSUSE contributors to spend money
while contributing to openSUSE.
The TSP exists to help make it a little easier, and requiring
contributors to still spend 20% of their own money when attending
events representing openSUSE, we're able to sponsor more people, which
is also a good thing.
The Board regularly reviews and discusses the TSP, and makes
recommendations regarding its operating practices and procedures.
In our last review at the beginning of this year, we recommended the
reimbursement level stays at 80%, and therefore I do not expect that
practice to be changed any time soon.

Final Thought
While I think it's a 'good thing' to have conversations like this from
time to time, I think we as a Project really need to move on from the
old 'us vs them' mentality.
Yes, like I accept when discussing the history at the beginning of
this post, I understand where some of these concerns come from, but I
ask everyone to take a fresh look at actually where openSUSE is
*today* and work on fixing *those* problems.
And I think many of those issues we do face today are best addressed
by hard work and action, and less by long discussion threads.
I'd like to see more email threads proposing possible solutions to the
problems people feel the Project has, rather than threads which start
by asking open-ended questions about those problems.
Otherwise I fear we'll just find ourselves running in circles, and
that's neither fun, not productive.


Richard Brown
openSUSE Board Chairman

On 13 June 2015 at 11:17, Françoise Wybrecht <fwybrecht@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
On 13/06/15 10:01, jdd wrote:
Le 13/06/2015 09:35, Dimstar / Dominique Leuenberger a écrit :

oh... and who is the freight train team?

yes +1 to who is in the team ?


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