The OpenJDK Charter: First Amendment

It’s been just over a year since the OpenJDK Charter was signed.

The Charter created an Interim Governance Board, with three members from outside Sun and two from within, and empowered that Board to write a Constitution, get it ratified by the Community, and then hold elections for the three non-appointed seats.

The Charter specifies that the Interim Governance Board shall be dissolved after one year of existence, in particular on 8 May 2008, i.e., three weeks ago.

We don’t yet have a Constitution, even in draft form.

Oh, and Sun recently hired one of the Interim GB Members, so now a majority of the GB seats are held by Sun employees—which, well, wasn’t exactly the idea.

How did we get here, and what do we do now?

Priorities We don’t yet have a Constitution because other work over the past year turned out to be much more important.

In the months following the publication of most of the code it became abundantly clear that developers both inside and outside of Sun were primarily interested in resolving encumbrances, creating an open-source JDK 6 code base, and packaging that code base for inclusion in some of the major Linux distributions such as Fedora and Ubuntu.

It also became clear that the interim governance guidelines were actually working fairly well, having enabled the creation of two new Groups and many new Projects with only a couple of minor issues having had to be referred up to the GB for review.

So, rather than focus on drafting a formalized governance document we instead put our energy into working on the code and on the essential infrastructure to support collaboration upon it.

Community before governance Priorities aside, it can also be argued—as Dalibor did during the GB’s most recent meeting, and today in his blog—that it’s better in principle to grow the Community a bit before attempting to formalize its governance. A Constitution drafted and ratified during the last year would have reflected the sense of the Community we have now, in which nearly all Members are Sun employees. A Constitution drafted and ratified in the coming year is more likely to reflect the sense of the Community we want, in which there is significant non-Sun Membership.

Given the focus during the past year upon more important priorities, and in order to allow the Community to expand further before writing a Constitution, the GB earlier this month asked Sun to amend the OpenJDK Charter so as to extend the term of the initial Interim GB by one year.

Hiring Dalibor We at Sun are very happy to have Dalibor Topić on board, but hiring him created a bit of a problem. The Charter does not, strictly speaking, forbid Sun employees from holding a majority of the GB seats, but retaining the status quo would be inconsistent with the spirit of what we’re trying to do.

An obvious solution is for one of the current Sun-employed GB Members to step down, but that would mean losing considerable wisdom and expertise. The GB instead asked Sun to amend the Charter so as to expand the GB from five to seven people, with four Members from outside Sun and three from within, and to appoint two new non-Sun Members in a timely fashion.

Moving forward I’m happy to report that Sun agreed to the GB’s proposals on 7 May 2008 by signing the First Amendment to the Charter. Sun is currently reviewing a list of candidates for the two new GB seats; we hope to see those filled very soon so that work on the Constitution can resume.

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