Tuesday Feb 09, 2010

Auth Update: Early

We had planned to update auth.opensolaris.org this week, but Alan and Martin finished this phase of the work early and deployed the upgrade last Friday. It's always cool to get something done, tested, and out the door early. This latest version of auth.opensolaris.org offers the following changes:
  • New public information screens displaying much more detail about user, collective, and governance relationships (these screens will be accessible via each XWiki Collective in the near future as well).
  • The ability to download the data from the public info screens in multiple formats.
  • New screens in each private user account displaying summary data from all the user's relationships with start and end dates.
  • The addition of eight languages (so Auth is now localized into 25 languages).
  • Some miscellaneous bug fixes and probably some stuff I missed.
Also, some of the elements on the auth.opensolaris.org page (headers and footers, basically) are now dawn via a new web service that has also been localized, so as we integrate all of the subsites with auth.opensolaris.org we'll start to layer a common look/feel across the entire site. This will take some time and come together in pieces, but the latest step is encouraging. Also, when the new SCM Console at repo.opensolaris.org is deployed, it will be localized as well (the first set of localizations is already done). Please note that all of these content localizations are contributions from the i18n/l10n community, so people from around the world are directly helping evolve the site. If the community didn't contribute this work, the site would be in one language: English. So, these contributions are huge. Here's how to contribute site localizations.

And finally there has been a bit of confusion on some lists recently about how the community is organized and the various roles/rights people have on the site. If anyone has any questions, please read the Roles & Collectives document first. It's the only document on the site that explains all the roles and all the collectives and all of the website and governance privileges. Send questions to website-discuss.

Sunday Oct 04, 2009

Some Website Updates for 10/5

auth.opensolaris.org will be down for a couple of hours early Monday morning so the guys can update the systems. The changes will include making the roles in Community Groups the same as User Groups, and also providing access to the CG Electorates for the OGB Secretary to manage governance grants. We still have to get the new information pages out there -- Community/Project sponsorship relationships as well as the Contributor and Core Contributor lists -- but that work is largely done and should be released shortly. Once those bits are done, we`ll update the poll application for elections. And then I can`t think of any more governance-oriented work we`ll have to do on the website.

I also updated a bunch of pages on the site over the last week. I consolidated 45 newsletter pages into 5. I just archived them into years, basically. There is no real need to have each month be an individual page with a corresponding link gumming up the left nav bar. The amount of content is simply too small to justify all the sprawl. I also rewrote the Website Guidelines entirely and updated the road maps, Website Community Group front page, announcements page, and the Collective Life Cycle Guidelines. Links here along with new pages Bonnie is working. I moved a pile of pages around and put in redirects as well. This is all in an effort to prepare content (delete, merge, fix, move) for the migration to XWiki. I`ll be deleting a bunch of dead pages this week, too. It is amazing how quickly information grows old and how fast you can get fat with pages just repeating information from other pages. Over the weekend, I also renamed all the OpenSolaris User Groups on opensolaris.org, so their titles are shorter and will make the left navigation bar much cleaner on XWiki on hub.opensolaris.org. That change will come over on Monday with the content migration process.

See update announcement from Alan on Auth. 10/5/09

Sunday Sep 27, 2009

Fixing Bugs, Cleaning Content, Making Progress

Bill and Bonnie sent some update emails (here, here) on Friday to website-discuss about the migration. We continue to migrate content three days a week from the tonic database on opensolaris.org/os/ to XWiki on hub.opensolaris.org, and things are starting to shape up nicely. Chris has fixed a pile of bugs (see Bill`s mail for the list), and Bonnie has updated the content migration document so people can better understand how to fix pages at the source if the content does not migrate cleanly. Chris will continue fixing bugs each week, and we`ll document those fixes in the content migration emails Bill sends. A few of us are also working on cleaning the common pages on the site -- that`s the content not owned by Community Groups, Projects, and User Groups. There are well over 100 pages in that category. We are deleting, updating, fixing, merging, and documenting. We got fat with common pages over the last few years, so I am trying to delete as much as possible. XWiki community here. Why we chose XWiki here. I`ll update Phase 2 of the website transition schedule tomorrow night.

In one of my own areas, I have been continuing to poke through the Advocacy pages and have been making pretty good progress. There are still a lot of broken pages that have no owners, so I`ll have to delete that stuff at some point. When we move to XWiki we`ll be giving more than 100 people edit privileges to the Advocacy pages, so I want to make some room for those guys to post new content. Today I updated the front page and some of the OSUG background and process pages and cut the content substantially. Hopefully, it`s getting easier to just get a quick idea of what`s going on, where to go for help, and how to do the basics. Most stuff happens on list via conversation anyway, and most activity at this point is based around OpenSolaris User Group so things are quite distributed.

I also cut the text around governance. Very few people are interested in governance, and it`s really not necessary for how we run Advocacy and build community globally at the grass roots. In fact, it generally gets in the way. I have pitched governance issues hard in Advocacy and in my presentations for years now, but I don`t think we have made any progress at all. So, if people are interested in governance, that`s great. We encourage them to read the OpenSolaris Constitution and interact with the OpenSolaris Governing Board on ogb-discuss (subscribe, forum). There are plenty of opportunities to write, reform, and implement processes there. I no longer have the time or inclination myself, nor do we have the space or interest level in Advocacy to dedicate to issues that are not working. Also, I now think that governance on the one hand and direct community building & project management on the other really ought to be separate. It`s just a cleaner way to think about both. And, actually, many others have suggested the same thing along the way. I`m slow. Anyway, for me, there are simply too many other really interesting development projects to manage and user communities to build around the world.

Making progress.

Wednesday Jul 15, 2009

Website Transition: Updated Announcements

I updated the announcements section on the Website Community today. I've been collecting these links for a while now since the website development and implementation projects are complex and they are being built and deployed over a long period of time. It's easy to lose track of what's going on if you are not directly involved, so we have been posting things in the Website Community for convenience for some time now. So, since we are only a few weeks away from Phase 1 of the transition, I figured I'd update the list. We are at 31 announcements at the moment. I may have missed a few here and there, but I think I got the major ones. I'm still fixing links and such, so I'll continue to update.

Wednesday Jun 17, 2009

Website Infrastructure: Collective Life Cycle Instructions

At the request of the OGB (see inital thread here and follow up threads here and here), I drafted a new document to answer questions about collective life cycle issues on opensolaris.org -- Website Infrastructure: Collective Life Cycle Instructions. The document lives in the Website Community Group and attempts to explain the infrastructure implementation procedures I go through on project-setup for Community Groups, Projects, and User Groups. It also points to all the other documents that are involved in various stages. We can`t unify all those documents at the moment, so I thought that a doc outlining basic procedures and putting the other docs in context would be helpful and would simplify some things. I think I got everything in there for this first cut, but I am sure it will all evolve over time. Glynn Foster drafted a group life cycle document as part of the proposed constitution in March, but that entire effort wasn`t successful so I`ll work it this way and see where we go. At the very least, it helps clarify the implementation part of the process.

Wednesday Mar 04, 2009

A Political Career Ends

The 2009 OpenSolaris Governing Board elections are well underway now, so check it out if you are interested. I have been nominated for another term -- and I appreciate that nomination deeply -- but I have decided to not run in this election. It`s time to move on from the governance project. I could use the extra hour of sleep, too. And believe it or not, that`s more than critical to me. It`s a must, actually, not just a nice to have. Also, I`m implementing specific plans for my future on OpenSolaris, so I make this decision with a great deal of clarity. You have to give up something if you want to grow into something else. I am determined to do that.

I`ve done a lot of governance on the OpenSolaris project, and I have learned a great deal in the process. Some of the experiences have been quite good and very successful, but I have to be honest and say that far too many were disappointing. I have think about how I can learn form the experience and integrate it all into my project management bag of tricks. To review, I was directly involved in the formation of the Community Advisory Board during the OpenSolaris Pilot Program four years ago, which included running the election, searching for a member from the open source community, contributing to various policy discussions with executives and community members, offering program management services to both sides, etc. I then provided program management support for two years to the CAB as it transformed into the OGB throughout the Charter and Constitution development process. I helped draft numerous documents and have been communicating extensively about the OGB for more than for years in a variety of venues internally and externally. I`ve even given entire speeches on governance, if you can believe it. I found those talks challenging because governance is boring (except for the flame wars we had along the way), and I`m certainly no expert in all this. Anyway, I ran for the OGB during the first public election and lost by one position, which was probably a blessing but I was pissed nonetheless. I then ran for the OGB last year and won and subsequently did a great deal of work. But I also sacrificed significantly due to time zone issues conflicting with my regular job. I say "regular job" because serving on the OGB, which is certainly related to my job, is a very different experience from reporting up line to the OpenSolaris engineering organization at Sun, and it is also a very different experience from the community building projects I run.

I believe I could better serve Sun and the OpenSolaris project by working on engineering projects that build core infrastructure for community development and/or support the generation of product revenue. That is clearly the direction I am moving. I will have to be involved in governance after this term to a certain degree because part of my job now involves creating groups on the site, and I already manage the process of creating all the OSUG projects on the site. And since the proposed project life cycle process will be centralized with the OGB under the new Constitution, I'll work on the Sun side to manage the actual creation of infrastructure in collaboration with whatever committee the OGB sets up to approve the applications. Additionally, my role is evolving now and I'm the program manager for the website transition team, so my priorities need to be focused on that work especially during the next 6 months. A lot of this stuff is related to a certain degree, but for me the lines will be much more clearly understood after this term ends in a few weeks.

And, again, I get an extra hour or sleep. Which is nice after you are up till five in the morning the day before.

Tuesday Feb 24, 2009

Streamlining Some Processes

The OpenSolaris community will be considering a new Constitution in a couple of weeks, and when this document is ratified it will mean some changes in how we manage the project. Overall, we are attempting to flatten and decentralize the community, simplify or remove processes, separate membership issues from development operations, and apply group creation processes equally to all. That last item is called the new Group Life Cycle Administrative Procedure, which will replace the group creation processes outlined in the current Constitution and in the Project Instantiation Policy. So, we want one procedure to create, change, archive, and reactivate all groups (Communities, Projects, User Groups). We hope this will reduce confusion for people who want to get infrastructure on the site to support work.

Currently, I`m managing the creation of the OSUG projects, and I`m staffing the project-setup alias and creating those projects as well. I`ll continue in those roles as we move to the new Constitution. The next OGB will have to create a board committee for the new group life cycle procedure, and I`ll work with that committee to help implement all this. Should be an interesting transition.

Thursday Feb 05, 2009

OpenSolaris Constitution 2.0 RC1

OpenSolaris Constitution 2.0 RC1: The OGB has been working on simplifying and reorganizing the structure of the OpenSolaris community. The conversations have been taking place on ogb-discuss and in OGB meetings. Multiple community members have contributed feedback, but we`d like to get opinions from a wide range of people before the document is put up for a vote in March. There is still time for feedback to be incorporated. I just sent the announcement for this release candidate to multiple lists in the community. Please post comments to ogb-discuss.

Thursday Jan 29, 2009

The 2009 OpenSolaris Elections: The Schedule

Alan Coopersmith just published the schedule for the March 2009 OpenSolaris elections. There are deadlines in February, so if you want to run for the board or even vote in the election, please read Alan's note carefully to make sure you are eligible to participate. Also, we will be voting on the new constitution, which is an effort to simplify the community structure. Go here to read that document. There is still time to make adjustments to the constitution, but the basic structure is set. We've been working this process on ogb-discuss as well as on Genunix and in our conference calls. It all started back at the OpenSolaris Summit in Santa Cruz last year, and it's been announced on various forums along the way. And finally, some people have been asking me if I am going to run again for another term. No.

Wednesday Jan 28, 2009

Requesting New OpenSolaris Projects

I've been setting up OpenSolaris User Group projects and mailing lists on the site forever (100+ now). Starting this week I'm also setting up development projects and communities. The process is 100% manual, but it's not too bad at this point. As long as you don't have to mess around with Jive, setting up project spaces and lists can go pretty quickly. And that brings up another point. I am no longer setting up Jive gateways to Mailman lists. Jive doesn't scale well to the number of lists we have, and the gateways break too frequently. Plus, the forums attract too much spam. So, we are going to replace Jive entirely as part of the new webapp we are building. In the meantime, we can't keep creating new forums that need fixing since that takes critical infrastructure resources away from doing much more important work on the site. In fact, I'm actually deleting forums on a limited basis where I can. Also, we are coming to a critical time over the next couple months migrating to the new site, and when that process is under way we'll start the requirements gathering conversation for replacing Jive. Our Mailman lists, on the other hand, work just fine for their capabilities. I'm looking forward to finding a new web forum solution that suites the community's needs. Stay tuned for that.

Also, here's a reminder when requesting OpenSolaris projects. When you request new projects on the project-set list, please give the name of the project, the name of your list, and the user names of the leaders who got the project/list approved. I need all three bits of info, so it that's not in the thread you forward to project-setup, please add it. This will expedite the creation of projects. And please be mindful of trademark issues. Use generic, descriptive words to title your project. For background on this, go to the projects portal, the project set up page, and the project lead reference page.

Finally, as you know we will be moving to a new project creation process after the new OpenSolaris Constitution is approved in the upcoming March 2009 elections. Until then, we are using the current system. Here is more information on the proposed group creation process.

Wednesday Dec 17, 2008

Preview Version of Website

A preview version of the new opensolaris.org portal and authentication system is out for some early alpha testing. In stages, we are entirely replacing the current opensolairs.org, which is a brittle monolithic web application we outgrew years ago, with a modular and flexible webapp we can scale with well into the future. What Alan put out the other day is the new authentication system he wrote integrated with xWiki. The auth application will be the center of the new system with client applications accessing its database. In this case, xWiki is a client and there will be many other client apps to come. Also implemented here is the new community roles and groups proposed in the draft OpenSolaris Constitution. The application is not skinned at all, so it's totally raw. We are just testing the wiki, user data migrations, rights management, etc. Give it a kick. Post feedback to website-discuss. Everything "website" tagged in my blog.

Thursday Dec 11, 2008

Update Core Contributor Lists

I'm pinging a bunch of lists tonight (announce, advocacy) to alert the community to starting thinking about updating their Core Contributor lists. We'll have an election in March of 2009 when we'll elect a new OGB and ratify a new constitution, so if people want to vote they should make sure their Core Contributor grants are valid. It's sort of like registering to vote in the American system, I suppose, but with a very important difference: you actually have to earn your OpenSolaris grant and that's not at all true of the American system. Anyway, there have been no new Core Contributors grants in a long time, so that's why I'm doing a little publicity around town. I even pinged core-contrib-discuss, which is a list for Core Contributors that we never use. That's a shame. It's a wasted opportunity for OpenSolaris Core Contributors to communicate and actually lead. Yet they don't. They never have.

Community members can determine their voting status by going to http://poll.opensolaris.org/.

I'm especially interested in updating the Advocacy Core Contributor list since I spend so much of my time there. Advocacy is the largest group of people in the OpenSolaris Community since it's home to 94 OpenSolaris User Groups around the world. We are spread out over many lists, so it's even more important that we start acknowledging and granting Core Contributor status to people who are doing a great job.

The current OpenSolaris Constitution is here as background on all this. We'll use that governance system to run the next election, but hopefully part of that election will be the approval of the new community organization, which is in draft form here.

Thursday Nov 13, 2008

Draft Constitution on Genunix Wiki

I put the draft Constitution on the Genunix wiki the other day, and I added a bunch of updates as well. After a few weeks of list conversations, we'll now move to working on the wiki. What becomes of this draft will be voted on in the March 2009 election. Much work still to do. Feedback welcome. Blogs tagged OGB here.

Tuesday Nov 04, 2008

OpenSolaris Constitution: Updating v2

I updated the Constitution again. This is the third attempt. I'm sure there will be many more drafts. You don't write something like this in just a few drafts. Also, I put this version on the Genunix wiki, so hopefully that will make it easy for people to just jump in and edit. The basic structure is all there at this point. Basically, we have one short Constitution outlining the structure of the community and that document points to three process documents: project creation, membership, and group management. The last one, group management, I just created a placeholder for today. We'll have to write that from scratch or bring over and edit some of the process bits from the current Constitution on voting, etc. Here is the whole thread on ogb-discuss. My OGB blogs here.

Thursday Oct 02, 2008

OpenSolaris User Groups Going Top Level

I sent a note out to all 72 OpenSolaris User Groups last night to update everyone about important governance and website migration issues that will come about in the next six months. And I got some good feedback in return. The OSUGs have been waiting for better tools and real estate on opensolaris.org for a long time. Well, that's coming.

Actually, we've been working on this for a while now. First we had a bunch of OSUGs stuffed into individual pages inside a single Community on the site. That broke jet fast when we grew too quickly for the site's architecture. Then we moved all the OSUGs to be individual projects on the site. That was a great way to solve the immediate problem for each UG by offering them their own project spaces, better URLs, blogs, announcements, etc. But as a result of that move, the OSUGs were then automatically listed among more than 200 development projects, and some argued -- correctly -- that that was confusing. But it was always an interim solution. And that's why I have always been listing the OSUGs in this grid here as the main pointer. That didn't solve the project page, but it was the best I could do since we couldn't change the opensolaris.org webapp itself (it's a long story). So, now we are coming to the final step of this long migration: moving the OSUGs into their own collective group on the site and giving that collective the same top level status as Projects and Communities. Part of this move is to also remove the OSUGs from the Advocacy Community in that hierarchal relationship. So, now User Groups will hold User Groups, and Projects will hold Projects, and Communities will hold Communities. All equal.

This all becomes possible because we are moving to an entirely new opensolaris.org with xWiki as the underlying content engine, and we are also moving to a new and more flexible community structure. Here is some background reading on this: infrastructure update to the OGB, OGB reorg update, and the new wiki we will be implementing. Over the next few weeks I'll pull some of these disparate documents (there are more, actually) into a simple one pager. These moves will require multiple migrations and tests and even some site re-designs, so this is going to take more than a few months to do. We'll need a good one page outline to point people to so everyone understands the very basics of how things will flow.

Friday Sep 19, 2008

Reminder: 3 Key Lists for Website Upgrade

It's important for all leaders of OpenSolaris communities and projects to be on the following lists:
In the coming months we'll be upgrading the opensolairs.org infrastructure and content and also going through a governance-based community reorganization. So, the Constitution will be updated, the website platform will be updated, and the content and site navigation will continue to be updated. There will be many discussions and testing phases and migrations, and all of these issues will be implemented primarily on these three lists. So please sign up and start monitoring. As things come together, we'll also post schedules or timelines in the Website project with pointers and instructions.

Here are some updates as of now:
Many of these discussions have been taking place for some time now, and there is much more background information in the archives of the three lists above.

Tuesday Sep 16, 2008

OGB Meeting 091508

The OGB met this morning. We had a good discussion about how to start implementing the community reorganization proposals we've been talking about and voting on recently. There are a few directions we can take, but I think we settled on doing a couple of things simultaneously. There's a lot to do. Basically, we have to do a better job documenting what we've done, communicating that information to the community, asking for feedback (more than we already have), writing and synchronizing transition plans, and implementing where we can even if parts will still be manual initially. We need to get people used to the idea that the community structure will change, the Constitution will change, the webapp will change, and some of the processes will change. The hope is that it will all change for the better, of course. Anyway, this  strategy seems like the best solution because there will be multiple times over the coming months when the infrastructure (webapp, wiki, etc) will have to be upgraded and tested by the community, and there will be a great deal of migrations going on that involve user data (we'll do that automatically internally) and web page content (which may be partially automated and partially manual but the community will be directly involved in that part). So, the implementation of the community reorganization is directly tied to the implementation of the new website platform we are building.

I've been happy with our progress lately because, well, we've actually been making progress now. Previously, we were stalled a bit. I don't particularly care how slow we go (slow is better in this situation), but what is critical is that we have consistent movement each month toward a goal. Momentum is necessary for any project to succeed, and we have some good movement now. I'm not a supporter of the weekly OGB meetings, though. I don't think they are necessary each and every week since the board is distributed around the world. It would make more sense if we were all on the same hallway. But when you have a community -- which is exactly what the OGB is -- you need to do more work on list and then meet to resolve issues. Scheduling and attending weekly meetings is extremely difficult if you don't live on the West coast of the United States. There is only one solution to this: work on list as the core platform for getting stuff done. The OGB is currently not working on list very much these days. This is a problem because it forces live meetings to get anything done and breaks flow of potential work each day. That's a bug. This is odd because we actually started out on list very actively. I think we need to get back to working on list, and then we can meet live every two weeks or so. We'll see. Making some really good progress, though. 

OpenSolaris Community Meeting Booking

Book your time to talk at the OpenSolaris Town Hall Community Meeting. Everyone will gather on Tues Sept 16th at 3 pm Pacific. There will be community updates as well as an executive briefing from Tim Cramer and Dan Roberts. The OGB will also do an update about the community reorg. I worte a little summary here.

Thursday Sep 11, 2008

Reorg Votes Continue

The OGB earlier today voted to approve the next two parts of the community simplification process -- Group Creation Process | Membership Process. The Groups & Roles Proposal was approved a couple of weeks ago. Next up will be a discussion about how we implement these proposals and reconcile them with the Constitution. There's no rush, really. As long as we are making steady progress in stages, we're fine. 

Friday Aug 29, 2008

Keeping Up, Staying Involved

I've been trying to update the various parts of the community in which I participate about the OGB community reorganization. This is a big deal we are embarking on, and the OGB has to be out there in the community educating people about the changes we are implementing on the community's behalf. I've been sending notes to opensolaris-announce, ogb-discuss, advocacy-discuss, and i18n-discuss. Here is the latest I sent tonight. The entire process is open, and all the documentation is on the OGB's site. Sign up to ogb-discuss to participate.

Wednesday Aug 27, 2008

Reorg and Simplification Progressing

The OGB's community reorganization and simplification process is progressing. See the roles/groups proposal here (approved), and the group creation process here (draft), and membership process here (draft). We are just picking off pieces and flushing them out on list and in meetings. Eventually, we'll have to bring all these documents together into one document and update the Constitution. OGB reorg tag on this blog right here.

Wednesday Aug 06, 2008

A Vote of Approval

On Monday the OGB voted to approve the first two parts of the draft community simplification document. I've been talking about this for quite a while. Now that this decision is made, our webapp development team can move on to finishing the applications that will not only make up the core of the new opensolaris.org but will also support the SCM migration. Working on that team and the restructuring project will now also take up the vast majority of my time over the next few months. I'm looking forward to it. It will involve some engineering management, some content management, and an enormous amount of communications with the community. Lots of learning, too. Cool.

Friday Aug 01, 2008

Simplification: Moving a Proposal Forward

I'm trying to move the OGB's community simplification process forward. There are important infrastructure engineering projects that depend on some very basic decisions from the OGB. So I've been advocating breaking this process into many small decisions, rather than one large and complex one. We need to vote on Monday. We are out of time. Make a decision. Move to the next one.

I've expressed my frustration about all this in a few forums, but that's mostly my desire to just move faster. It's my default position on everything, actually. But I think we may now be getting closer to agreeing on a draft from which we can start. Here is the latest draft of the community simplification proposal. I say start because there is absolutely no way to simplify and reorganize the OpenSolaris community before the main ON gate has been moved outside and before the opensolaris.org webapp infrastructure has been implemented. First, the movement of the gate outside brings with it a significant amount of infrastructure and process we've never had outside, and long with that comes a whole boat load of people as well. And second, the current webapp is not flexible enough to enable any reorganization. Instead, all three things need to occur -- and are occurring -- at the same time. There are some clear dependencies that need considering. By necessity, the two infrastructure implementations are happening in a phased way, so any community governance reorganization needs to follow that same model.

Also, the work on the new webapp has been based on the existing Constitution, but it fixes many of the obvious and well-known issues that have been discussed for years in the OpenSolaris community. This is very cool. We will have a remarkable amount of flexibility with the new site that we've never had before, so it only makes sense simplify governance by actually simplifying governance, so we don't inadvertently add too much layers and process before we need it. That's why I'm pushing to keep things as flat as possible and as simple as possible. We can always get more complex over time if we need to. It was a mistake to create governance before we needed it, so we shouldn't make the same mistake now by recreating governance before we need it in a genuine attempt to simplify what we already have. We should cut first. Then build back up. If we need to. Regardless, I will always argue for a flat, simple, approach.

Although we still have some bits to figure out regarding all of this, at least there is clear consensus for making the OpenSolaris User Groups their own collective group on the site. This is very good news. This means that the OSUGs will have top level exposure right along side Projects and Communities and any other meta groups we specify under the reorganization. Many of us have been wanting this for a long time. The new opensolaris.org infrastructure coming along will easily allow it, and now we hope to adjust the governance to enable it as well.

Friday Jul 18, 2008

Cut the Bureaucracy, Cut the Hierarchy

I'd like for the OGB's community simplification effort to be successful. We all want that. But I'm not sure why we are finding this so difficult to move faster. We talk about it intensely in conference calls, and then we drop it for weeks at a time. We chat on lists, and then the lists go quiet. I'm getting frustrated. We are not working together. We are talking at each other, not with each other. Consistent movement in small steps is critical for building momentum on any project. Without that movement, agreement is difficult and that undermines implemention. Also, to simplify anything you have let go. You have to trust that the bureaucratic structures you have in place may not actually be holding things together at all. It's ok to cut. It's ok to cut to the absolute minimum and build structure only if it's needed and only when it's needed.

On ogb-discuss I have offered a simple operational structure based on three categories: Communities, Projects, User Groups. Within each of those three categories there can be many instances of those groups. They can create themselves easily, they can organize and run themselves any way they want, and they can associate with whoever they want. Operations are their business, so they ought to know that better than any centralized authority. They'll have only a few operational roles to contend with, and if people in those groups want to apply for Membership status (voting rights), they can go to the OGB Membership Committee when it's formed (the Membership interaction between groups and the OGB needs to be specified). Or they can ignore Membership entirely if they are not interested in community-wide voting issues.

This is very simple plan. It pushes governance to the back, it pulls development to the front, it decouples governance from operations, and it cuts the bureaucracy and hierarchy. Here's an outline:

Constitutional Term Changes and Deletions
  • Group replaces Community Group to describe all collectives.
  • Groups are Communities, Projects, and User Groups.
  • Core Contributor is removed.
  • Facilitator is removed.
  • Emeritus Contributor is removed.
Communities: Social groups gathered around issues or technologies. All roles except Participant have edit rights to web pages in their Community.
  • Participant: Someone who participates in the activities of the Community.
  • Contributor: A Participant who has been acknowledged by the Community as having substantively contributed towards accomplishing the goals of that Community.
  • Leader: A Contributor elected by a Community to lead the Community.
Projects: Development groups gathered around code repositories and integration tools. All roles except Participant have edit rights to web pages in their Project.
  • Participant: Someone who participates in the activities of a Project.
  • Committer: A Participant who has been acknowledged by the Project as having substantively contributed towards accomplishing the goals of that Project and who has commit rights to any code repositories owned by the Project.
  • Leader: A Committer elected by a Project to lead a Project.
User Groups: Groups of users gathered around issues or technologies in a specific geography. All roles except Participant have edit rights to web pages in their User Group.
  • Participant: Someone who participates in the activities of a User Group.
  • Coordinator: A participant who leads and coordinates the activities of a User Group.
Group Creation Process
  • Groups can associate with each other for purposes of collaboration, but development Projects are no longer sponsored by Community Groups. As a result, the new Group creation process can be simplified because governance is decoupled from operations and there is no need for CC voting for Projects. If people want infrastructure so they can do some work, they can send mail to a Group creation alias with a request and if it's not rejected in a week it's automatically created.
Membership Process
  • If Groups want their participants to be involved in community-wide voting then each Group will have to follow the OGB Membership Committee's specification (which is yet to be defined).
Earlier drafts here and here.

Please note: This is not meant to be the reorg. It's meant to be the start of a reorg that will emerge over time as the new infrastructure is implemented, as we move to open development, and as we experiment with simple operational and Membership structures. All we have to do right now is specify three things from an operational perspective: (1) group categories, (2) roles within each group, (3) and relationships (if any) between the groups. That's it. From that point, the infrastructure engineering team can finish implementing the new webapp, and the OGB can then move on to communicating with the community about these issues as well as specifying the Membership process.

Simon summarized some of our early conversations beautifully. But I think a few of us are interpreting those initial conversations differently. I'm clearly at the extreme edge of simplicity, and I'm there quite intentionally. I just don't see the need for much process here at all. We already have enough. It's time to cut. I also think I'm pretty consistent with the original intent of the simplification process. We'll see. There are many proposals now, and they live on lists, in bug databases, in blogs, and on wikis. Here are the basic proposals from Jim, John, Glynn, and Simon.

Friday Jul 11, 2008

Roles for the Reorg

Earlier this week the OGB voted to create a committee to specify the roles and overall community reorganization we may attempt when the new opensolaris.org webapp is implemented. We need the new webapp in place to do the reorg, but work on the webapp is dependent on the OGB specifying up front any changes in the current roles or organization. We've been discussing this for a couple of months now, and we all agree that we want to start small and make incremental changes as needed. So, after the meeting on Monday, I posted to ogb-discuss some of my thoughts about specific roles and an overall organization, and I tried to focus on an extreme simplification of three roles and three collectives. I knew full well that that was too simple, but I wanted to start from there and work up as needed. There was some discussion during the week, and I just posted an update to the proposal with Alan's and John's comments. It's just a start to keep the process moving.

Some previous blog posts on this issue are here and here.

Sunday Jul 06, 2008

Moving Faster

It's great to some of the core open development issues really starting to heat up now. You can hear Tim Cramer, Stephen Hahn, and Dave Miner talk about these projects at the OpenSolaris Community Strategy Planning Meeting (slides and audio). At the 21:35 minute mark of the audio, which is slide 6 in the deck, you'll hear Tim talk about the movement of kernel development (gate and tools) to Mercurial and then outside the firewall. See the preliminary schedule and the SCM migration project here and here for more details. Anyway, back to the call: lots of install from Dave and lots of packaging from Stephen. Good stuff. I slept through this meeting, so I'm glad it's all online.

Thursday Jun 26, 2008

OSDevCon Presentation

Here are the slides from my talk at the OpenSolaris Developer Conference in Prague earlier today. From an information perspective, the slides are pretty much useless. They are just full bleed images with almost no content whatsoever. I talked about community building from a governance perspective and made up much of the specifics as I spoke. I had a specific outline in mind, of course, but I just tried to tell some stories about what I've experienced on the project -- including the things we've done right, some of the things we've done wrong, and where I think we're going. I was more assertive about my own opinions than I've ever been, which was intentional, so I hope it came across ok. I was a bit long winded (as I am in writing), so I think I have to improve that. I'm the only non-technical speaker at the entire conference, though, so I figured I'd try something new with the full frame images with very few words. I think I'll continue this technique for a while because I have a lot of photos I can talk about and that offers a remarkable amount of flexibility to improvise during a talk.

But this was ultimately a discussion about getting involved in the OpenSolaris project -- either in governance itself or in any number of roles that will help you earn Membership and Core Contributor status in the community. In many ways, governance is just another form of community development, and there are many social, strategic, and technical factors involved. The governmental systems on OpenSolaris are still evolving, though, and some of the issues have been controversial. This is normal. It's simply the evolution of a complex and unique engineering project, one in which a multi-billion dollar corporation is opening its core product and is building a global community while still maintaining critical business operations.

There have been three clearly definable phases of governance on the OpenSolaris project:

(1) Sun's role in creating the CAB from within the Pilot Program, the development of (and confusion about) the Charter and Constitution, the redefinition of the CAB to OGB and the expansion of its mandate and extension of its term, and the ratification of the Constitution and election of the first OGB. This period of time ranges from late 2004 to March 2007.

(2) The first elected OGB begins normal operations with a Constitution that doesn't necessarily reflect reality, but many people on the board and in the community make a good faith attempt to make things work. The OGB controls no resources and key parts of the project are still internal to Sun. A community reorganization is specified and attempted but stalls due to disagreements and inflexible infrastructure issues. Trademark disputes over a new Sun distro lead to more arguments about the project's lack of openness in some areas. This second phase was March 2007 to March 2008.

(3) The second OGB takes office after a significant community argument with Sun. Most members ran on a platform to reform the governance and reorganize the community for two key reasons: the OpenSolaris community and Sun need to be in sync about the project, and the structure of the OpenSolaris community needs to reflect the reality of how the community actually functions. The re-org can now take place because the OpenSolaris engineering infrastructure team has resources to update the website, move the gates external, and finish the work necessary to make OpenSolaris an open development project -- which was the goal all along. The reorganization is not fully specified yet, and the discussion moves slowly. Sun's executive engineering management engages with the OGB as well as the community. This current phase started from March 2008.

The Reorganization

Currently the OpenSolaris community is structured around Members, Community Groups, and Projects. Community Groups sponsor Projects and grant Membership status to Core Contributors. There are some odd groupings, as well, such as user groups, which we have stuffed into Projects due to site constraints. Also, we have many Community Groups that were crafted back in the Pilot Program that really ought to be Projects today or consolidated into other Community Groups. And Sun has yet another grouping called Consolidations, which doesn't fit the Constitution. The website doesn't reflect the Constitution, too, since the site per-dated the Constitution and its evolution stalled due to resource constraints. So, the OGB's community reorganization has to address all of these issues.

To begin the process of discussing the issue, the OGB recently proposed interpreting the term Community Group to mean a class of groupings in the community, not a group itself. In other words, Projects, Consolidations, Special Interest Groups, and User Groups could potentially make up the new groupings and they could have relationships with each other in a web-like structure instead of the current hierarchical structure. To establish some consistently across the community under this proposed system, a new OGB committee would be formed to create standards for granting Membership status.

The reorganization idea has already generated several counter proposals, but the general concept is moving in the direction of offering more flexibility for different types of groups and crafting a system that reflects how OpenSolaris developers work rather than imposing an artificial structure on top. The reorganization and the infrastructure work necessary to support the changes will probably take a year, so there is plenty of time to get involved and contribute. The site can not be changed rapidly, and neither can a governance decision. The site's current monolithic architecture is being updated in stages to a new modular architecture, but it still must support current operations. And the community will have to participate in and finally approve any new governance structure.


The OpenSolaris governance process should define how the community operates. Therefore, it's at the core of how people participate in the project. It should not get in the way of participation, but it should offer opportunities for many people to contribute in many ways.

That's it.

Update: Here is the video of my session:

part 1, 30 mins

part 2, ~40 mins

Saturday Jun 21, 2008

OpenSolaris Requirements Call: Slides and Audio

I missed the OpenSolaris requirements call the other day. Damn.

It was 6 a.m. for me in Tokyo, so I had to get up around 5:45 or so after an wonderfully restful three hours of sleep following my 1-2 a.m. meeting earlier that night. Or early that morning, I guess. Whatever. It's just all one big hairy 24 hour day now. Anyway. I wanted to hear Stephen and Tim and ask some questions, and then quietly go back to bed. I did two 22 hour days this week, so I didn't think I could swing the planned three hour meeting on only three hours of sleep after staying up for 22 hours. It takes me a few days to recover from my regular 22 hour Tuesday, so repeating it on Friday would be tough. The 22 hour bit is necessary since I have to catch meetings in California at the end and at the beginning of what is for them actually two different days but it's one day for me. But as it turns out the conference call system didn't work for me when I got up at 5:45, so I got up for absolutely nothing -- other than a healthy dose of searing anger and frustration, which is always helpful in getting back to sleep, right? So pissed.

Anyway, Glynn recorded the session, so I'll take a listen this week. Excellent. You can, too. And the slides are posted on the wiki, so check 'em out if you missed the call. Tim is trying to gather requirements from all interested parties for the next OpenSolaris distribution, so take him up on his offer. Also, if you want to get directly involved with the engineering effort, go to the indiana-discuss or pkg-discuss lists or the Indiana, Installation and Packaging, and Image Packaging System projects. There are many more links at those pages, too.

Friday Jun 20, 2008

The OGB Breaks Wind

Sam Varghese scratches out a very humorous quote here -- Hey FOSS project, what's your pedigree?
"The project is so tied up in its own bowels, trying to draft structures for its own operation, that the only thing it has left to chance is probably the order in which members of the governing board break wind - and in which minor key they do so. I wouldn't be surprised if even that was specified in an amendment some years down the line."
Sam, I have to admit, that's a great quote. You know pretty much nothing about OpenSolaris (just ask Patrick), but that's a very funny quote indeed. I'm saving it.

The context for Sam's quote is the whole "organic vs inorganic" open source argument. Linux is great because it's "organic" and springs to life from the great wild, and OpenSolaris sucks wind because it's "non-organic" and is driven by Sun and the OGB has flatulence. That's pretty much it. Whatever. I'm a fan of Linux (I use Ubuntu), but I really don't know enough yet about the Linux community to comment about its lack of pesticide use. I know more about OpenSolaris, so I can comment there.

OpenSolaris is still very much a mix. Some parts are most certainly organic -- porting of DTrace and ZFS to MacOS/BSD), the non-Sun distros, the user groups, the OSDevCon conference, etc. Some parts are represented by transparency on Sun's part and the interaction with other communities, such as the specification and testing of the SCM choices, the new wiki applications, the OpenSolaris Summit operations, etc. Some parts are characterized by various open development projects on the site with live gates outside the firewall with external committers, such as desktop and g11n, or just engineers working in the open as much as possible, such as some of the technologies in the new OpenSolaris distro (install, packaging, etc). And other parts of the project are still largely internal to Sun but plan to move outside, and that's probably represented best by the ON consolidation -- the kernel. The kernel source is out there, of course, and the community is contributing via the request-sponsor process, but the main gate is still inside. So, give or take few inaccuracies on my part, it's pretty much a mix of organic and inorganic. Or is it non-organic. Anyway. The problem with all this is ... what? What's the big deal? This is all normal operations for a large, multi-phase, long term project to open Solaris from within a multi-billion dollar corporation that still has build, ship, and support products.

OpenSolaris can't live up to an artificial standard of being a totally "organic" project. I'm not sure anything could, actually. And we never claimed such a characteristic, actually. I think it's fine for those involved in the project to criticize various things (and they do), but that's all in an effort to fix things and move forward. Again, it's normal. You will find that in all projects in all industries. I'll give Sam one thing, though. There is a kernel of truth in that we have spun ourselves around silly on some issues these last few years. But that's very much changing now. Sure, you can argue with the changes, but the fact is that the project has changed significantly lately and for the better. But did Sam choose to get involved and help out in the true spirit of open source? No. Instead, he chose to use a two thousand year old rhetorical technique (well documented by Aristotle) to attack while sitting safely on the sidelines.

It's not big deal, really. I just loved the quote.

From Reorg to Simplification

The OGB is continuing the discussion around how to simplify the structure and function of the OpenSolaris community. Simon Phipps posted an updated version of his initial draft that the OGB discussed a few weeks ago -- Simplifying OpenSolaris Governance. What I like about this is that it offers the ability for people to group themselves so that structure doesn't get in the way of function, and then over time we can see what actually works rather than attempting to specify all possibilities up front. Some of the discussion we've had on list is way too confusing for the issue of simplification.

We are fortunate that Alan Burlison has built enough flexibility into the authentication application for future evolution. So, the OGB should just concern itself with defining the collective groups (Projects, Communities, SIGs, UGs, etc) and also the main governance-oriented roles (Contributor, Core Contributor, Facilitator, Member, etc) and leave the rest to the new edge applications that will access the authentication application. The current opensolaris.org webapp is monolithic in design, and we are replacing that with a distributed and modular design. The real intelligence and flexibility here is at the edge where apps will give people access to resources to get work done.

Just making these changes that Simon suggests (which we all discussed in two OGB meetings) is a big enough deal. We should start small and move and adjust in small and consistent steps along the way. The OGB has absolutely zero resources, so it really has no other choice. It has to carve out reasonable chunks of things to do and then engage other groups to do the actual work. As a result, big and comprehensive reorgs will get bogged down and ultimately fail.


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