Interesting comments Marc.  Unfortunately, I couldn't disagree with you

On Mon, 2003-09-15 at 20:58, [EMAIL PROTECTED] wrote:
> We should also consider that xfree86 currently falls aparts exactly
> because of the board (and wrecks for quite some time already). 

Interesting, if clouded, view of this situation.  The board (which is
actually made up of the core developers) has been closed minded about
its development efforts in the past.  The recent turmoil was a way of
letting fresh air into the process.  The board remains.  XFree86
remains.  Advances continue.  Exactly where has XFree86 fallen apart?

Did you discuss your opinion with any of the core developers or are you
just stating the opinion without gathering any facts on the situation

> And many
> other projects live fine without boards, too. 

And some live fine with them.  KDE, GNOME and Debian come to mind.  They
don't appear to be falling apart either having established definitive
goals, target audiences, rules for interaction with outside vendors or
even *gasp* establishing release schedules.

> GCC (one of the largest free
> software projects) did fine, too, for a very long time. 

Indeed it has.  Of course, it does have the Free Software Foundation
(and no less than Stallman himself) as a guiding force behind it.  But I
guess that doesn't count as a "board" in your opinion.

> Apache probably
> has less problems because they try very hard not do decide things over the
> heads of other people.

If by this you mean the board doesn't try to snatch control away from
the developers then that's probably true.  In fact, that's what a
guiding board should do - offer guidance on direction.  If the
developers remain open minded, they'll consider that guidance
seriously.  In Apache's case, it appears to work.

> Boards are a concept alien to free software projects, since boards
> work like "we decide, you do the work", which might work in corporate
> structures, but doesn't work at all in free software environments.

You see the world as black and white, Marc.  Not all boards are so
manipulative.  But there are many projects who could use an
authoritative voice to keep the project moving.  Miguel was such a force
for GNOME, and that project (even without a board, but with an
authoritative figure at its helm) has done quite well.

"doesn't work at all in free software environments" isn't even close to
the truth here.  You sound like you speak more from hate of anything
that smells of authority than from research of the facts.

As for boards being "alien" to free software, well, I've given a number
of examples to the contrary.  There are many more.

> Non-profit organizations are, on the other hand, often seperated from the
> project itself (esp. for the Gimp, as the developers feel afaics strongly
> against handing over the rights to the code to such an organization, which
> means it would have no rights at all to the gimp).

No one is going to get the "rights" to the code if its under the GPL. 
This sounds like FUD.  But developers may feel disinclined to handing
over the direction and control of the *project* (not the code itself) to
another group or individual.  That's a fair feeling considering the
efforts the developers have given to this point.  Because of this, any
authoritative leadership must have the support of the developers group
or it wouldn't be of any use.  If the GIMP developers are happy without
such leadership, then there really isn't any point in trying to
establish one.  It is my assertion that such leadership is missing and
would help extend GIMP's value to both the developers and the user

Please note that when I say "leadership is missing" I say that with
Sven's acknowledgment that he is not the central authority and that such
central authority does not exist.  I do not mean to imply that the work
Sven and the others have done to this point was without value.  To the
contrary:  The GIMP developers have done very well without central
authority.  I feel they can do even better with it.

> Recently I hear a lot about "target audience" and "have to work with the
> industry" and similar ideas.

You'll hear a lot more as open source catches on in the real world.

> In my opinion, this has exactly zero relevance. 

And you are entitled to your opinion, no matter how far removed from
reality it might be.

> The question to ask is:
> how would a board/non-profit-org help the _developers_. 

By lighting the fire of interest in the non-technical community that
often sparks motivation and interest in the project itself.  Getting the
word out about the GIMP and it's plans and direction (and having helped
establish both) may help bring in new developers, which in turn *could*
(but is not guaranteed, of course) help to speed the process of
development.  It could also generate funding for hardware.  Perhaps even
small scholarships for students participating in the project.  Most
importantly (in my opinion, which is worth as much as your own), it can
help keep the project focused.

> One can create
> boards as much as one likes, this won't change nor create a single line of
> code or code-change.

You couldn't be more blind here, Marc.  The board members, as a
requirement for participation on the board, could be required to take
coding responsibility for a certain part of the application - perhaps
filters or maybe (if they're qualified) something internal.  You see the
board as "suits".  You miss the point of their purpose or their possible
makeup and duties.

But, like I said, you are entitled to your opinion.  And I encourage you
to share it.  It's how things get changed.

> And if it doesn't help the people who write the code (e.g. by getting
> specifications or the like), then I don't see why such a thing should be
> founded in the first place.

Any authority granted to such a group would have to be to the benefit of
both the developers and the user community the developers serve.  If
this group fails either, it fails in its mission.

> So what are the benefits of a board for the developers? How would that
> help them? How would such a board counter the frustration on the side of
> developers that a board exists that has power but no obilgations? Where
> does it get it's rights from? Who has to submit to it's decisions? How
> is it elected (if at all)?

The only two questions I haven't answered here are the last two.  The
board gets its authority from the developers (any group of governors
gets its authority from the governed or they cannot lead) who must be
willing to abide by the boards decisions for the general good of the
project.  The board would be elected either by the developers directly
(which is probably not the best solution but might be an interim
solution till all parties are comfortable with the workings of the
board) or by open elections, with the developers votes being weighted
slightly more than an end users vote.  The actual mechanism for voting
is a detail which can be built later, based on existing mechanisms
(Debian's or GNOME's, for example).
Michael J. Hammel                               The Graphics Muse 
[EMAIL PROTECTED]            
Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.
  --  Credited to the Dalai Lama.

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