Well I know what you’re thinking. Something along these lines “Dude, seriously? You made so much noise and now you are running for council?” Well, this is the point isn’t it? If someone makes so much noise and complains about something, the only natural thing for him is to step up and try to obtain the “needed” authority to push these changes. Most of you know who I am, either in person or by our long discussions on IRC and ML, and you know that politics is not one of my skills ;-) . I am not good in self-promotion and I am not going to come up with a fancy speech to convince you to vote for me. To be honest, I don’t think I need one. My activity is the best way to understand how hard I try to help Gentoo. I sincerely hope the new council will be mature enough to focus on important things , bring innovation within Gentoo, and make developers happy and willing to dedicate time for Gentoo ( /me crossed fingers ).
(long post, make yourself a coffee before you start reading)
Quite recently, I’ve been studying a module named “IT Governance” for my MSc. In this module I came across to the following definition of leadership:
“Leadership is about inspiring others to do their best and to do so in a focused and co-ordinated way. Leaders are inspirational people and encourage others, by their own example, to achieve ever increasing success. It is often said that ‘Leaders are born, not made’. There is probably some truth in this but not necessarily. ‘Born’ leaders are usually natural extroverts and often come to the front in the most unlikely of situations. The “made” leader is often more reserved and may need much prompting before taking the lead. A major question is the form that this prompting might take“.
The Gentoo Council, which is pretty much leading Gentoo, finally won the “ChangeLog” battle. They are probably feel quite proud about that. But what will the long term consequences be?
Samuli and I, two of the most active developers got demotivated 101%. We used to do like 700 commits/month but the way I see it, speaking for myself, I am not gonna do more than 10 from now on. Council, acting like managers, obsessed with policies and rules, and drunk with all the power, treated developers like nonsense children who think that Gentoo is their playground. But they did not even consider what is best for Gentoo. The result is one more stupid rule to frame our development, two active developers stopped contributing and 4 members left the QA team. I really wonder what kind of leader makes such decisions… Moreover, you will be surprised by the fact that the so called “leaders” do no more than 10 commits/month on average. So people with no active contribution get to decide about active development. Funny :)
This will probably be my last summer in Gentoo. I have to be around to make sure my packages work until I migrate my systems to Arch Linux and Debian ( highly unlikely since most of them are managed by ssh. No physical access :( ). Even before I join Gentoo, I knew that policies were the reason that so many developers decided to leave Gentoo. And yet, nobody learned anything from past experiences. You already know that Gentoo is short on manpower. Yet, leaders feel comfortable to remove cvs access and demotivate people without carrying about the project progress at all.
For those who are going to vote for Council members in a few days, I would advice them to think what is best for Gentoo. Developers who act like developers or developers who act like judges and business managers? Gentoo should be treated as an innovative project, with highly capable developers and active community. Policies are good provided they assist in progress and development. Power can be dodgy, it can easily make you divert from real targets.
@New Council: Try to work close with developers, listen to them, focus on their needs, treat them as adults and respect their knowledge and most of all, do *not* kill their motivation.
Good luck :)
ps: Here is some background reading if you are not aware of the recent developments:
ps2: Comments are closed on purpose. I am not interested in getting involved in any sort of discussion about whether my thoughts are valid or not. I already spent many many hours on mailing lists. Enough is enough :)
Lately I’ve been doing some “undertaker” work. Many of you might not be aware of that so let me explain that to you. When a developer is slacking without apparent reason, someone has to poke him about his status. This is usually done by sending two e-mails before declaring him officially away and let the infrastructure people disable his account etc. When we retire a developer, all of his packages are going to the notorious maintainer-needed list. Unless a developer picks some of these packages, they will remain on tree as long as no outstanding bugs appear on bugzilla. In this case, treecleaners will remove them. However, since the very beginning as a developer, I tried to be as close to users as possible. This is why I act as a proxy to quite a lot of them. This actually makes me feel happy and more useful, than playing solo if I may say. So, when we retire a developer, someone has to take care of his packages, reassing bugs etc. What I usually do is to search through the open bugs for easy fixes like stabilization requests or bugs that have a patch attached. This is actually a 2′ fix that would make another user happy :) But that is not enough. In my opinion, portage is growing much faster that we can handle, leaving too much craft behind in case someone retires. Quite a lot of herds are almost empty, so packages are maintained by a single developer not by a group of them. So, when he retires, nobody is taking care of his packages anymore.
In a few weeks we have council elections and everyone will start promising shiny stuff for Gentoo, but nobody actually understands that new cool stuff cannot hide deeper fundamental problems. A year ago I have requested monthly status updates from every project, just to know which of them are dead and act as appropriate. Obviously nothing happened, and this is why we have a lot of open bug assigned to dead projects that nobody is ever gonna fix. I am seriously considering a run for Gentoo Council this year, but not to promise “yet another git migration and uber-cool shiny tools”. Maybe it is time to stop pretending that everything works perfectly and that we are awesome. We focus too much on technical stuff without caring about our PR and our users overall. Well, not as much as we could anyway. I have a strong feeling that we are a small group of developers who are just developing cool stuff for themselves. Many of you (especially the devs) might not agree with me, but please take a look on bugzilla. There are thousands of open bugs with a 2′ fix attached. Half of them are assigned to dead projects ( why?! ) and other are just there waiting for someone like me ( I think Patrick is fixing packages here and there too) to run through them and fix them. Why?? This is really demotivating. I guess there is a reason that Gentoo developers retire after 2 years of service ( on average ).