[forum] A Call For Open Governance Of X Development

Havoc Pennington forum@XFree86.Org
Mon, 24 Mar 2003 16:21:52 -0500


On Mon, Mar 24, 2003 at 12:15:44PM -0800, Steve Swales wrote: 
> As the current Chairperson of X.Org, you have my personal invitation to 
> participate, and my personal promise that X.Org is committed to 
> reforming itself into whatever the community feels it should be, as the 
> stewardship body for the X standard. 

Thanks for that!

> Having said that, I feel that this will not be an easy thing to do,
> but I am encouraged by the recent track record of other
> organizations which have successfully pursued the goals of free and
> open stewardship, while at the same time offering sufficient value
> for participation by a broad set of corporate (i.e. paying)
> sponsors.

For the GNOME Foundation, we spent significant time discussing how to
incent companies to support the foundation and its activities, while
still ensuring that decisions were made for purely technical reasons.

We were unable to come up with a solution. Quite simply, if paying a
fee does not mean more say in the organization, we are left with "you
should support the organization because its work needs doing and
benefits you" - which has a significant freeloader problem.  Still,
this is what we did for the GNOME Foundation for lack of alternatives.

I don't think we should beat around the bush. For me, and I believe
for many others, having anyone other than "all interested technical
domain experts" involved in decision-making is simply broken. Not only
is it wrong in a big picture sense, it is also bad for the companies
themselves in the long run. I want to see Red Hat benefit from correct
technical decisions, and would like safeguards to protect us from our
own inevitable silliness as we become a larger company.

I would focus on two questions:

 1) What ideas do people have to ensure X.org funding while completely
    eliminating the ability to buy technical influence? [1]

 2) If we have no ideas, is X.org willing to drop pay-for-say?

Speaking for myself only, I would not support any form of X.org that
maintains pay-for-say. My personal guesstimate of the open source
community's views is that they will agree and that GNOME and KDE would
be willing to actively ignore a pay-for-say X.org if we had an
alternative open organization to turn to. I could be wrong, and people
may change their minds, including me. But the presumption against
pay-for-say is very, very high.

I propose that we set a hard deadline for discussion and decision on
X.org, or it will drag on forever.

Finally, I'd point you to the suggestion in the GNOME/KDE joint
statement that our primary open source X implementation be under the
same umbrella as our X standards organization.


[1] One possible idea is pay-to-use-the-trademark instead of 
pay-to-design-the-specs. i.e. a certification program.