Harish Krishnaswamy wrote:
ASF is a group of projects administered by the Apache board members. The board delegates certain responsibilities over to the PMCs of the individual projects while still maintaining the authority and management responsibilities. The PMC is responsible for a wholesome code and community of the project it oversees but does not have the authority to recognize new projects.

I'd say it the other way around. The ASF is a collection of communities that create and maintain codebases. To obtain infrastructure support and some legal protection, these communities donate the copyright of its software and ownership of its brand to the Foundation. In order to provide legal protection and watchdog its copyright, the board assigns a vice president to oversee the project. A committee is also convened to assist the VP with oversight.

Since the committee is formed by a resolution of the board, its members are eligible for legal protection in the event of a lawsuit. Also, since the committee is the only formal body created by the board, only the votes of committee members are considered "binding". In the normal course, most or all of the committers are also committee members. (Jakarta being an anomaly.)

In most cases, the community's codebase is focussed on a single product, and so all the committee members and committers are "in tune" with what is happening with it. The ASF has also been exploring the idea of "umbrella" projects like Jakarta, XML, Database, and Web Services. At this time, there is no clear consensus of whether these umbrella projects can function as well as the traditional projects.

A very subtle concept is that the ASF doesn't actually "own" the codebase. The codebase belongs to its community, and under the Apache License, that community can always "vote with its feet". Since it is the community that gives the software its value (by using and maintaining it), there is an Apache belief that the community is the true owner of the codebase. The ASF just owns the brand and yesterday's copyright.

The board is *very* sensitive to the needs of its communities. Software versions come and go, but communities endure.


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