Monday May 26, 2008

The OpenSolaris Electorate

One of the things that came up on the OGB lat week was voting and the characteristic of the OpenSolaris electorate. I started a discussion on ogb-discuss since this is related to how people would become Contributors and/or Core Contributors under a potential community re-org (multiple threads on the re-org started on ogb-discuss).

I support the notion that in order to become a voting Member of the community someone should assert they want the status. Go register to vote, in other words (using the American process as an example). So, in OpenSolaris, that could mean someone asserts they want to be a Core Contributor and provides substantiation of contribution, or someone else offers a person as a Core Contributor with substantiation and the person accepts (so in that case the assertion is the acceptance). Simon agrees on this point, too.

However, there are many people participating in the community who are /not/ contributors or core contributors and have no desire to be. That's fine. It could be a personal choice or cultural characteristic, and we as a community need to accommodate this diversity of opinion. In other words, just because you don't vote or participate in cross-community discussions about governance issues doesn't mean you are not a valuable member (small "m") of the community. But I also think it's fine that community leaders go out and actively engage people in governance because that's good community building and a way to educate people around the world about how the community functions at its core. The more options for participation people have the better, and if one of those options is governance so much the better.

But my view is based on the repeated experience of going out and trying to make voters out of people who may not be interested in governance. Steve seems to agree, too. I'd rather build community by getting people involved and contributing for peer recognition at a local or global scale, and than out of that pool of people a voting block will naturally emerge. That takes a little trust because it involves letting go of the notion that large numbers of people have to be voters. They don't. Very large numbers of people have to be engaged as users, smaller numbers for developers, and even smaller for votes. That's how it seems to be working so far, anyway.

Friday May 16, 2008

The Re-org

The OGB has started a discussion about a potential reorganization of the OpenSolaris community. This grew out of the re-org that started last year with the previous OGB and also discussions on various lists and at the OpenSolaris Summit in California last week. We talked about it earlier this week on our call, too.

I have a couple of interests here: First, I'm a member of the board and I want us to have a flexible community with a minimum of governance and process, and second, I very much want to complete the fixing of the user groups and this re-org will provide an opportunity to do that. With respect to the user groups, I moved all of them to projects when I merged the old User Group Community, the Marketing Community, and the Immigrants Community into the Advocacy Community Group (which was part of the first community re-org attempt last year). The good part of this is that the UGs are projects now and have their own spaces on the site. That was Stephen's idea. Love it. It took me three months, but it fixed the mess we created by stuffing individual UG pages inside one community until everything broke. But the UGs are still somewhat buried inside the Advocacy CG, and the vast majority of UG members are not at all involved in Advocacy and are not on advocacy-discuss. The user groups really need to be their own collective group with top level billing along side Projects, Community Groups, SIGs, Consolidations (or whatever mix of terms we come up with and hopefully a reduced mix).

I can't predict where any of this will go. Can you? It will be interesting, though, that's for sure.

Tuesday Apr 22, 2008

Infrastructure Liaison

One of the things we are doing on the OGB is assigning all members with something to do. So, we all get to go out and do stuff and bring that stuff back to the OGB for decisions or action or whatever. Or we simply represent something for informational purpose as our main role on the board along with other general membership duties that come up. The specifics are not well defined yet, but we are sort of jumping on things that make sense as they come rather than forcing roles up front. I agree with that approach. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I volunteered to be the infrastructure liaison for the website. This makes sense for me since I'm on Bonnie Corwin's OpenSolaris engineering team, which owns and operates the website, and I'll be on the upcoming Website Community Group as well. Plus, I want to learn a great deal more in this area as I continue to evolve my role on the OpenSolaris project.

Wednesday Apr 16, 2008

A New Focus

It's not every day you get to re-write your job description, but that's exactly what I'm doing. It's not a big deal, really, since the OpenSolaris project is growing and changing, and we need all sorts of people doing all sorts of things -- and we don't have nearly enough people or resources to exploit all the opportunities globally, but that's another story (and a good problem to have, too). Anyway, I view this as just a re-balancing of my job based on four factors:
  1. Getting elected to the OpenSolaris Governing Board,
  2. The evolution and changing needs of my team in California,
  3. My own career goals, and
  4. The unique opportunities offered by my geography.

I'll still be doing project management and building OpenSolaris communities globally, of course. But I'm going to narrow my focus so I can get closer to some engineering projects that not only generate contributions but also help lead to revenue for Sun. And I'll still be interacting with developers and users, but I want to get involved with other open source and standards communities and more customers, partners, universities, and governments as well. I'm already getting more requests to brief customers about OpenSolaris, so I want to expand that it if possible. And although my focus has always been global, I'll surely be spending more time in China and India and other parts of Asia since those markets are growing rapidly and since I live in the neighborhood. I'll also be exploring some new opportunities in Eastern and Western Europe this upcoming year.

Here's a rough split of time and projects:

  • Website: 40% on website development projects, especially the implementation and support of the software platform on which opensolaris.org runs.
  • Globalization: 20% on g11n engineering projects.
  • Governance: 20% on OGB initiatives across the entire OpenSolaris project.
  • Advocacy: 20% on user groups, conferences, and presentations globally.

There's a fair amount of crossover there, but that's ok since it gives me the flexibility to mix and match projects under some main categories that make sense if I absolutely had to quantify them. What changes significantly, however, is the project mix and time split. Governance, website, and globalization are all new and will take up most of my time. But there will be many opportunities for community development in APAC with user groups, conferences, and engineering projects. And although all of this involves advocacy to one degree or another, I'll now be focusing those communications efforts specifically on the projects I'm driving rather than anything I can get my hands on across the entire OpenSolaris community. That's a critical point. That also will be a big change as I specifically let go of some stuff in order to take on new stuff. There is no other way to grow, in my opinion, unless you have a solid core competency but also aggressively reach out to grab new things. So I intend to build from that perspective.

And finally, I'm now getting closer to the globalization engineering organization at Sun with a dotted line report to Mimi Hills, the director of g11n who manages software development operations at many sites around the world. I'll be adding some OpenSolaris-related g11n engineering projects to the mix of stuff I do for Bonnie Corwin's OpenSolaris engineering team. First up with g11n will be to evolve the language/country portals on opensolaris.org so we can properly implement the localization of content on the site. This is important as we build the OpenSolaris community around the world. If you build globally, you are actually building across languages and cultures, and that's very different from building within a single language and culture.

So, we'll see how all this goes. It's all based around engineering project management and community development, but hopefully much more focused and much more valuable. For two years now I have been busy creating additional networks to support these moves. I've had an excellent FY08, and I expect FY09 to be even better. Should be fun.

Saturday Apr 12, 2008

The Website CG Proposal

The Website CG proposal was issued today to website-discuss, which begins the 14 day evaluation period before a potential OGB vote. I tried to recast the proposal last week based on community feedback, the OGB's recognition of a set of current Website Core Contributors, and also the notion that those who do the work get the say. Regarding that last point, I specifically added a "leadership" section to make it clear who would make decisions. I can still see some things I want to change (all pretty minor) throughout the proposal, so I'll do that during the next two weeks before the final vote. The Website CG proposal here.

Thursday Apr 03, 2008

First OGB Meeting

We had our first OGB meeting earlier today. Notes will be posted to ogb-discuss shortly. I was very happy with the experience generally. So far there's just enough structure so the board hangs together as a group so we can get things done, but the feeling is overwhelming non-stressful, open, respectful, and remarkably low key. A great start. If we keep this up, we'll make progress this year. Now, we'll surely experience disagreements over the course of the year, but I think the board members agree that we have to focus and address the core issues facing OpenSolaris. So, I think we have a good platform from which to build. Also, in terms of leadership, we elected Simon Phipps as our Chairman. Excellent.

Monday Mar 31, 2008

OpenSolaris Constitution Updated

Simon Phipps updated the OpenSolaris Constitution with the amendments that passed in the recent election. The previous version is archived, of course.

Friday Mar 28, 2008

The New OGB: 2008-2009

Earlier this evening Stephen Hahn posted the results of the OpenSolaris elections. I'm glad both questions passed. And congratulations to the new board members! I'm happy to have been elected along with those guys, too, and I'm thankful for the vote of confidence from the OpenSolaris community. I'll treat that confidence with the utmost respect. Special thanks to Stephen for working the voting system and also to the outgoing OGB for their efforts this entire year.

Wednesday Mar 26, 2008

A Quick Fix

Last night Stephen Hahn found a bug in the voting software and that's delaying the results of the OpenSolaris election. Should only be a couple of days. But what's cool is that he found the bug, posted mail outlining the issue in detail, suggested a solution (with an alternative), offered code to fix the issue, asked for comments, and gave reasonable deadline after which he'd act on his proposal. The result? Quick feedback, approval of the proposal, and praise. I find that rather efficient, to be honest. I know many engineers just work this way culturally, but that sequence of events and attention to detail is a lesson for the rest of us. It's just a small example of how to use communication to focus an issue and move it to action.

Friday Mar 21, 2008

The Evolution of the Site

I re-read Alan Burlison's document outlining his restructuring of opensolaris.org. He's updated it recently. I'm most interested in the phase that comes after the authentication work when we'll be able to consider new content authoring tools for a customized wiki. That will help the OpenSolaris User Groups have more flexibility editing their project pages, and whatever application we use will certainly support localization, so we'll be able to properly implement a multi-language/country site. But even more importantly, the new infrastructure will be able to generate new collectives other than just "Communities" and/or "Projects" so that means we won't have site dependencies restricting what a user group can be from an infrastructure perspective. If we wanted to change what user groups are so we can elevate their status, we'll need a governance discussion, since projects are currently tied to community groups, but at that point it will no longer be a site constraint. The reorganization of the OpenSolaris community has to take place at some point anyway, so hopefully we can consider removing the user groups from being sponsored by the Advocacy Community Group and making them their own category while at the same time preserving their role in governance.

Thursday Mar 13, 2008

The OGB Interview

Here's my interview with Barton George earlier today. Doing recorded interviews is always challenging for me. Being a former severe stutterer, I tend to shy away from microphones that have a recording devices on the other end. I stuttered a bit in this interview and got some thoughts confused and left others out. Oh, well. At least I'm well beyond having those gut-wrenching blockages where you feel like you are gaging as someone holds your head under water. As long as air is flowing now, I'm cool with some bumps along the way. And I got some bits out that were pretty good. Actually, I'm more at ease in front of an audience live than on the phone being recorded (and I've been able to isolate and document all the reasons why). There are very different communication skills involved when you are interviewed and recorded live, and I'm still learning how to do it effectively. Those who do interviews as a core part of their job have special skills indeed. I've spent an enormous amount of time the last two years getting myself to the point where I can present and talk in front of small and large audiences about what I do, but I still need some work on doing interviews. I'm determined to acquire this skill, though, and will let nothing stand in my way. Not even me. Anyway, Barton was a great host. And, well, I did ok, too.

During the interview, I tried to make the point that we as a community have come a long way, and we ought to be absolutely proud of that. I've never backed away from that position -- even when some seem intent on focusing on the negative. And although we have struggled at times with governance, we ought to cut ourselves some slack and just get back to work. Why would we do anything else? Governance is hard. It doesn't come easy in any context -- a company, a community, a country. It's nebulous. It's a social issue, not a technical one. The current OGB has been criticized by some (myself included), but we all deserve much of the same criticism since governance involves everyone -- the OGB, the community, and Sun. Remember, the OGB has no resources other than what the members bring to it. It has no budget. It has to lead by building consensus across the community, which means we all must participate at some level. We will get it right, though. It will just take some more time.

Wednesday Mar 12, 2008

Amendments, Candidates, Communication

Simon Phipps has some background on the two amendments he has written for the current OpenSolaris ballot -- OpenSolaris Polling Open. I support both amendments. I nominated Simon for the OGB, so I obviously support his candidacy as well. Simon said he believes "that in the coming year we particularly need an OGB that is equipped to communicate strongly, clearly and frequently with Sun's management." This issue of communication comes up over and over again. In fact, it's probably part of everyone's platform to one degree or another, so it will be one simple way to judge this next OGB. Sun management will have to play its part in the communication game, too, of course. Simon also talks a bit about various candidates in the election and the importance of strong Sun representation -- all of which I support.

Friday Mar 07, 2008

About Me and the OGB: Part II

I'm running for a seat on the OpenSolaris Governing Board (OGB) in the March 2008 election. I ran last year and lost, so I'm giving it a shot again this year. Circumstances have changed this time around, so maybe my luck will, too. Last year, I came in eighth out of eighteen running for a seven seat board, so I missed it by inches. A similar number of people are running this year. Maybe I'll get that seventh spot. Or maybe I'll bomb. We'll see.

I'm not a politician or a visionary, and I don't look to those guys for leadership. Instead, I respect those who are understated in their speech and transparent in their operations, and I'm most impressed by those who simply get things done. On OpenSolaris I try to work in the open as much as possible. I attend very few internal meetings and participate on very few internal aliases. In fact, I'm always advocating the opening of those closed meetings and aliases, so we can build a community that is genuinely transparent. What you get with me is easily substantiated in this blog and on the lists on opensolaris.org. That's pretty much where I live.

My position on governance from last year forms the basis of my views this year, so not much has changed on that front. Back last year I talked about community growth, participation, values, and communication -- issues that pervade my daily job on OpenSolaris. I think those issues are even more important today considering the obviously rough ride we've had in some areas. The one element I'd add this year is action. The OGB needs to re-establish trust and earn credibility and lead by example. It needs to work. And that requires a significant commitment of time from each member. This is not an advisory board. It's a governing board. But the board has very little actual power and no real resources, so it needs to influence via consensus-building actions. This is a difficult task to say the very least. The OpenSolaris community also has a responsibility here. The community voted for the OpenSolaris Constitution, so we ought to participate fully in the system we ourselves created. Otherwise, we will lose it.

Over the next week or so, I'm sure there will be some threads about governance issues on ogb-discuss. I'll chime in on those if I can. This is just an assertion to accept my nomination to run. I've written about governance issues while involved in OpenSolaris, and you can find that content in my blog and on ogb-discuss. Also, I've updated my bio and contact information, and you can see all of my projects and communities listed in my profile on opensolaris.org.

Wish me luck ...

Monday Feb 18, 2008

OGB 2008 Nominations Open

It's just past midnight in California on Monday February 18, so that means the 2008 OGB election season just started. I nominated Simon Phipps to run. It should be an interesting election for the OpenSolaris Community to say the very least, eh? Things have been a bit on the stressful side lately, but hopefully we can cool down and address our problems in a professional and respectful way.

Tuesday Feb 05, 2008

Testing Contributions

Jim Walker and the test guys have an excellent page here explaining how to qualify to be a Contributor or Core Contributor -- Testing Community Membership. This is good because the distinction between Contributor and Core Contributor in the OpenSolaris Governance is not that clear, and it has caused a great deal of confusion. I think I'll have to steal this model for Advocacy.

Monday Jan 28, 2008

Advocacy CG Updating the Voter Rolls

I realize the OpenSolaris Constitution has taken it on the chin this year, and some people want to toss it out. But I don't care. We are updating our voting rolls in the Advocacy CG, and we will participate in the upcoming election. Actually, I'm hoping that Advocacy will offer up some candidates in the election. We have a perfectly fine governance if we work it. If we don't then, sure, it will be trashed and we will deserve our lack of freedom. So, check in on advocacy-discuss (sign up, archives, web forum) as we talk about all this.

Friday Jan 18, 2008

Core Contributor List

Thanks to Eric Boutilier, the OpenSolaris Membership now has its own list. This is good news.

There have been complaints in the past that there is too much noise in the community to make decisions, that absolutely everyone has to have a say, that there is no leadership, and that it's just a free-for-all on the lists. Well, now the Core Contributors (which means "Membership" under our governance) have their own list to rationally discuss issues. The signal to noise ratio should be excellent, right? Instead of thousands of people spread out on multiple lists spinning around all over the place, there is now one list for the voting membership to quietly communicate about important matters. And the Membership is just a few hundred people.

I've supported this move for a while now, and others have agreed. I've always felt that the voting Membership of the OpenSolaris Community is actually well defined. We may feel deadlocked at times, but that's only because we have not asserted our leadership as Core Contributors. We keep looking for that magic "single" leader somewhere. I'm not saying the new list solves all problems. But it takes away the excuse of "we can't even talk because there are too many people screaming and yelling." So, it will be fascinating to see if the list is used or if we just continue to make excuses for our failed attempt to communicate with respect.

Tuesday Jan 15, 2008

Saying No

I've always found it difficult to say no. I'd much rather be for something than against it. But earlier today I said no to a two month temporary assignment on the OpenSolaris Governing Board. There was a resignation recently in the seven person board, and since I was number eight in last year's election, I had the option of serving out the rest of the term. I thought about it for a few days. But it just didn't make sense to jump into something for five or six weeks when I have vacation and business travel planned on top of other projects coming to fruition. Not to mention having to get up at 4:00 in the morning for OGB conference calls. A great deal has changed in the ten months since the election last year. It will be interesting to see who runs this year, but I doubt I have any governance in my future. It's interesting, though. I re-read my position statement from the election last year. I still believe it.

Wednesday Dec 19, 2007

Elections, Voting, and Users

I started a conversation in the Advocacy Community Group (CG) to see if we can update our voting roles to get ready for the next election for OpenSolaris Governing Board -- [advocacy-discuss] OGB Election 2008. I also emailed all 57 user groups individually to make people aware that this conversation would take place on advocacy-discuss. It's a pain in the butt to mail so many lists, but there's no other way to reach everyone. advocacy-discuss is supposed to be the meta list for all the user groups to communicate with each other, but as a practical matter it really hasn't worked out that way. The Advocacy CG is too big for all the user groups to connect with each other on one list. That's a good problem to have, though.

In the last year, the Advocacy CG has grown quite large for a couple of reasons. First, we merged three communities (User Groups, Marketing, and Immigrants) to create the Advocacy CG, and second, we experienced significant natural growth of all the OpenSolaris User Group Projects. Also, since Advocacy was created, we sponsored a few other projects along the way as well. So, now, when you look at the 63 or so discussion lists in Advocacy, you find about 4,500 people. Not bad for organic growth for a Community Group, eh? Huge success this year.

The Advocacy CG is supposed to be about getting new people involved in OpenSolaris, and the people in the CG range from the very technical to the very general. Also, if you look at all the CGs on opensolaris.org, Advocacy certainly contains the most people and probably the most general users. There has been some concern about that, actually, since Advocacy people didn't vote in large numbers in the last election and there are constitutional requirements for a certain percentage of the voting population to actually vote. Also, some people feel that Advocacy has the ability to potentially influence the entire OpenSolaris community -- even core development issues -- simply because it has the largest number of people. These arguments are expressed in [ogb-discuss] OGB Elections: Current Community Groups.

I agree that Advocacy people need to actually vote or we risk thwarting an election since we have so many Core Contributors (known as "Voting Members"). However, the risk of general (non-technical) Advocacy users influencing the technical direction of the project is extremely low. There are many reasons for this, including the following: the Advocacy CG is not well organized from a voting perspective, we don't vote in blocks or even in large numbers individually, we don't have a single leader, we are only loosely connected and distributed geographically, we have many cultural and language barriers that challenge communication, most of our participants are technical themselves, and the general users are vastly outnumbered by the technical Core Contributors in Advocacy and in all the other CGs on opensolaris.org by about a factor of three. Nevertheless, Advocacy people should vote. The only way we can have any voice in the main OpenSolaris Community governance is to vote. So far, however, the interest is very low.

Thursday Nov 08, 2007

Sun and the OGB

The last few weeks in the OpenSolaris Community have been pretty wild by any measure imaginable. Multiple lists on fire over Project Indiana with discussions winding all over the place 24 hours a day for weeks on end. You will not see any of this in the press or in blogs. You have to go where the community is -- on the 200 or so lists where the community lives.

The issue around Project Indiana is clear -- the use of the name OpenSolaris, the community's desire to share in the use of the name, and the need to build consensus around branding and trademarks. If anyone had any doubt about the viability of the OpenSolaris Community, I think the last few weeks should put that thought to rest. The OpenSolaris Community is clearly gelling right under our noses, and it's asserting itself like never before. Four years ago we set out to build a community when most observers thought it couldn't be done. Well, we did it. If OpenSolaris weren't a genuine community, you'd never see such raw passion expressed with absolutely no end in sight. The only feeling that comes to mind is, well, pride. It's really messy, sure, but there is no such thing as an antiseptic democracy. Pick up any good history book and you'll soon realize that self governance is difficult at best. The rewards are worth it, though, which I think history also documents pretty well.

The second thing to point out is the emergence of the OpenSolaris Governing Board (OGB). Up until very recently, most people in the community had little interest in governance, and the OGB was taking some criticism for a perceived lack of leadership. That's all changed. The criticism itself was unfounded since the OGB designed a governance that distributes leadership, and the community itself is realizing that it has to lead itself -- which is a wonderful opportunity that demonstrates the vision of those who crafted the governance in the first place. But the OGB has a clear leadership role to address conflicts, and that's exactly what they are doing right now over the naming issue of Project Indiana.

If you listen to a replay of the OGB meeting yesterday -- which I seriously encourage you to do -- what you will hear is this entire issue being addressed with a calm professionalism that could very well set the standard for exploring disputes in the OpenSolaris Community. I was very impressed. And as a result, for the first time in the last three weeks I'm confident that we are on the verge of solving this problem and becoming a stronger community as a result.

That brings up the third point: Sun. Sun takes in on the chin a lot in situations like this. Sometimes it's deserved, but many times it's not. The company rarely speaks with one voice on development matters, and although many consider that a weakness, I consider it a strength. It's an indication that the company encourages employees to assert themselves in an attempt to innovate. Exercising good judgment is required, though, and we always need to keep that in mind. But, as Roy Fielding said recently, "engineering at Sun is consensus-driven ... people simply need to learn a new tradition of moving that consensus-driving process onto the public lists." To me, that's the single most important aspect to building a strong community -- building consensus in the open. But when disputes occur, being open is even more important. That's why I was encouraged to hear Bill Franklin, the executive director of Solaris engineering, articulate Sun's position on the OGB call yesterday. Listen carefully and you'll hear his flexibility and also flexibility in return on the part of the OGB.

You can read the OGB's draft resolution here: [ogb-discuss] OGB/2007/004 written resolution. And you can follow ogb-discuss over the next few days as Sun engages formally and as the issue comes to fruition with an OGB vote. This is one of the most important moments in the young life of the OpenSolaris Community. And it's clear to see the OGB and Sun are inching closer together. It will be fascinating to see what happens over the next few days. If you are involved in this community, though, don't just observe. Your voice matters. Express it.

Wednesday Sep 26, 2007

Patience

There's an interesting conversation going on inside the OpenSolaris community about the state of governance and open development:
There are dozens and dozens of messages in those two threads. This is all part of the conversation leading up to the OpenSolaris Developer Summit. I have the impression that some people in the community are losing patience on some of these issues, but I also think that some face-to-face meetings at the summit in Santa Cruz will help these things move along more smoothly. Working remotely as I am now here in Japan, I know that face-to-face is critical at times.  But working remotely has also been the best learning experience I've ever had from a community development perspective, and my perception of the OpenSolaris project and Sun has changed as a result. But to the conversation ...

Regarding governance, we all need to understand that we designed a system of self governance, which means we run the community based on open conversations, open elections, and open participation. Without those elements, we have no governance. It's that simple. That means that the non-Sun community needs to assert itself and take on governance responsibilities, and it means that Sun community members need to get outside and become part of the community we are all building. Many people are simply not aware of how much opportunity the OpenSolaris Constitution actually offers them, but I don't see this as a problem, though. It's just part of our responsibility to run our own affairs and educate others about the process. Sure, it's tough, but it's better than working under a dictatorship. So, I don't have much patience for the complaints on this issue -- whether they come from inside the company or outside.

Regarding open development, though, I surely feel for many community members who are expressing frustration. I'm not an engineer so I can't really dig into some of the details, but some of the complaints seem quite valid because they've been expressed for a long time and many other highly qualified engineers agree. We are listening and we are making progress (and I actually see good progress being made on many fronts), but it's been too slow for some. That's unfortunate, no question about it, and it's been frustrating for me and others as well. Perhaps the progress I see is simply underwhelming, and I don't even realize it. It's probably an area of growth for me to see more deeply into the project itself. Anyway, when I do my talks on OpenSolaris I try to reflect as accurately as possible what we are doing right, what we are missing, and where I think we are going as a community. This is a project management balancing act here, and there are many factors to consider -- technical, political, economic, competitive, social, etc. I do, however, view all of this as pure opportunity, and I also appreciate that many honest, tough-minded, passionate community members are toughing it out with us.

Friday Jul 20, 2007

User Group Project Migration Update

We've made a lot of progress the last two weeks migrating the existing OpenSolaris User Groups to be User Group Projects -- with the same status and site functionality as development projects on opensolaris.org. This is an idea Stephen Hahn had a couple of months ago to fix the organizational mess that had developed in the old User Group Community (a mess due to fast growth, though, which is a very good problem to have).

We now have 13 user groups open as projects, 24 more in the process of moving but have yet to open, and 18 more sort of waiting in the wings. I expect we'll lose some of those 18 since they have not responded to pings to migrate. But that's ok. If a user group is not active, I really don't think we can call it a user group. No matter. We're happy to re-engage anytime. You can follow all of these migrations here in the user group project grid. I've been working it every day, so it's a pretty big table now. The user group projects are also listed among all the OpenSolaris projects. I also updated the user group project creation process, which outlines what people need to do to get opensolaris.org infrastructure for their group. It's easy. And well worth it.

This migration experience has taught me a great deal -- especially that it takes a lot of time to manually migrate 54 user groups! But I'm actually way ahead of schedule, so I'm not complaining. But also, as user groups get their projects I think they are realizing that a project space on opensolaris.org has value and will help increase the status of user groups and offer them more options to build community. Project infrastructure offers user groups some advanced features -- including a dedicated space on the site, project editing privileges, a blog aggregator, source code management (via Mercurial and/or Subversion), a Mailman mail list with administrator access, an RSS-enabled announcement section, and spaces for news, file hosting, discussions, observers, and leaders. That's not a bad start, don't you think? And as the site evolves, whatever additional features are added to the projects the user groups will see and benefit from as well. And because user group leaders are simultaneously project leaders who have earned the right to open and manage a project with site infrastructure, they stand a very good chance of gaining contributor and/or core contributor status within the Advocacy Community Group (which sponsors all the user group projects). So, user group leaders and participants can become full Members of the OpenSolaris Community as defined by the OpenSolaris Constitution, which will enable them to participate in community-wide governance issues -- including voting.

This is an excellent situation. As the community grows globally and diversifies to include non-technical participants, we are at the same time offering a convenient way for more people to get directly involved in the community, earn membership status, and contribute to the governance of the community itself. This is only one such mechanism, of course. More on the way ...

Thursday Feb 15, 2007

Steve's Run

Stephen Lau jumped into the campaign for the next OpenSolaris Governing Board today. Excellent.

Sunday Feb 11, 2007

The OGB's Decree

Last week, four out of the five OpenSolaris Governing Board members issued the CAB/OGB Position Paper # 20070207 in an attempt to outline their position on the issue of potentially dual licensing OpenSolaris with GPLv3 and CDDL. I responded to the OGB's position paper because I have concerns about the language they used to articulate their position and their attempt to thwart an open conversation on OpenSolaris by issuing a "decree" saying that "[f]urther discussion on GPL\* is merely a diversion and distraction that should be discouraged." That's a remarkable statement and needs to be challenged.

For the purposes of this discussion, I don't particularly care about the distinctions between GPLv2, GPLv3, and CDDL. All I ask is that the elected representatives of the OpenSolaris community not use inflammatory terms like "fostering FUD towards OpenSolaris" to describe a fellow open source community and also not try to stop an open debate on our forums. There are perfectly valid differences of opinion between the proponents of all licenses, and there's no reason we can't explore all of the issues whenever we want.

To me, the most important words written about Opensolaris are contained in the OpenSolaris Community Principles:
  • The project will evolve in full view of the world. By opening our code, processes, documentation, and historical information to everyone, we offer a real opportunity for others to join our community and contribute from an equal footing. Technical information will be withheld if there are legal restrictions, never because it is incomplete or of poor quality.
  • We will be inclusive. Proposals will be evaluated based on technical merit and consistency with overarching design goals, constraints, and requirements.
  • We will be respectful and honest. Developers and users have the right to be treated with respect. We do not make ad hominem attacks, and we encourage constructive criticism. Our commitment to civil discourse allows new users and contributors with contrarian ideas an opportunity to be heard without intimidation.
  • Quality is always a top priority. The OpenSolaris project will continue the long tradition of quality engineering established by the Solaris Operating System.
  • We are independent. Decisions within the project are made independently from those concerning Sun's business. Sun's management controls the business aspects of the Solaris product, but will not exert undue influence within the OpenSolaris community.
The third bullet is most important in this context: "We will be respectful and honest. Developers and users have the right to be treated with respect. We do not make ad hominem attacks, and we encourage constructive criticism. Our commitment to civil discourse allows new users and contributors with contrarian ideas an opportunity to be heard without intimidation."

I think I'll continue following the OpenSolaris Community Principles. I can not accept the OGB's decree.

Monday Jan 15, 2007

SCM, Governance

Stephen Harpster, the engineering director for OpenSolaris, is quoted in internetnews.com -- Community Approach to Sun's OpenSolaris. It's a good piece about the upcoming SCM system, Mercurial, and the OpenSolaris governance, which seems to be coming to fruition. The opening sentence in the article is instructive -- "Open source is as much about the ability to collaborate and participate as it is about the code that is open. Sun Microsystems understands this."  That's what we are trying to grow into here, a community that is diverse and offers opportunity for as many people around the world as possible.

Saturday Feb 11, 2006

OpenSolaris Charter: Approved

This past Wednesday the OpenSolaris Community Advisory Board (CAB) voted to approve the OpenSolaris Charter after many months of conversation. Today, Sun Microsystems also approved the Charter, and the document was signed by Glenn Weinberg, vice president of Sun's Operating Platforms Group.

The OpenSolaris Charter enfranchises the "OpenSolaris Governing Board (OGB) to manage and direct an OpenSolaris community in its efforts to improve upon and advocate in favor of OpenSolaris, so that the community may long endure."  The current CAB members now comprise the initial OGB, and their first order of business is to create an OpenSolaris Constitution. These governance conversations have already begun, and the documents will be written, debated, iterated, and ratified in the open -- just as the development of the Charter was done in the open.

Congratulations to the five CAB members -- Simon Phipps, Al Hopper, Roy Fielding, Rich Teer, Casper Dik -- as well as to OpenSolaris engineers Stephen Hahn and Keith Wesolowski for all their efforts in writing, editing, and debating the Charter. Also, a special thanks goes out to those OpenSolaris community members who provided valuable feedback on the drafts.

Tuesday Apr 05, 2005

The CAB

Here's the OpenSolaris Community Advisory Board -- Rich Teer, Simon Phipps, Roy Fielding, Al Hopper, Casper Dik. Jonathan's not on the CAB. He just stopped by for lunch. That's me standing on the chair holding Simon's camera. I didn't want the shot at eye level and couldn't think of anything else to do. Although, the image on Simon's page is much nicer for some reason. I seemed to have lost some resolution when I reduced the image. Stephen has some images from the CAB dinner, too.



The CAB met with a bunch of reporters and analysts today, and they have a pretty full schedule for tomorrow. Here are a few articles:
It's good to be involved with the CAB. I was pretty nervous going into this today. This is new ground we are plowing here for Solaris and for Sun, so there are many unknowns. However, since January -- when we announced the intention to form the CAB -- I've watched Sun take this issue very seriously, much more seriously than I thought they would. The community has taken it seriously, too. And from what I observed in today's meeting, the CAB is optimistic about the future of OpenSolaris. Clearly, a new community is being born. And I've been saying this for a year now -- this community is going to surprise a lot of people.

The structure of the initial CAB announcement in January was pretty lightweight. This was intentional. The Solaris engineers and managers wanted to give maximum flexibility to the CAB to create its own charter and to be independent of Sun.

During the month of February, the OpenSolaris Pilot Community considered their participation on the CAB. The community nominated seven members to run in an election, and they finally elected two members -- Rich Teer and Al Hopper, two long time Solaris community leaders. This entire four week activity took place on the opensolaris-discuss mail list, and it was executed meticulously by the community. It generated significant conversation, as well. Sun provided logistical support for the election but did not participate in any other way. Nominations and discussion of nominees were public (public within the pilot program, I mean) and the votes cast were private. Future elections -- that means after we launch -- will take place among the greater OpenSolaris community for all to see. But for now, this was a reasonable system to get started.

While the community was discussing and electing their representatives to the CAB, the Solaris organization began the process of choosing two Sun employees to participate on the CAB -- Simon Phipps and Casper Dik. The Solaris organization wanted a highly-respected Solaris engineer and community leader, as well as a well-known expert in open source communities around the world. These guys fit the bill perfectly.

During this time, representatives of the Solaris organization also engaged in multiple conversations with the open source community to determine the best fit for the fifth member of the CAB -- Roy Fielding. Again, we were looking for someone with experience in community building and also someone who has significant credibility among open source developers. We are taking the "community building" part of this project to heart, so Roy's experience will come in handy. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation today when Roy explained the Apache Software Foundation's system of meritocracy and trust. To me, this is the foundational mechanism of a good open source project because it supports virtually unlimited opportunity for those who participate. You participate and give and everyone benefits, and there's massive incentive for the individual to innovate. The individual wins and the group wins. Love it. This core concept of community dynamics is a major reason I'm excited to work on OpenSolaris.

So, the CAB represents three elements: The Sun, the OpenSolaris Pilot Community, and the open source community. We've done exactly what we said we'd do. And we did it on time, too. Which is pretty wild.
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