Eric Anholt Alan Coopersmith Stuart Kreitman Bart Massey Tiago Vignatti Carl Worth
* 1) In the last year, the membership gained a lot more insight in the activities of the board. What is your opinion on this new-gained transparency? Do you see options for improvement? * I'm glad to finally have the transparency we'd agreed we all wanted. In particular, the open IRC meetings have been going well. Well, it's more work for me, but I think it's been worth it so that members can see what's happening (or in many cases, how little is happening). What happened in the recent past when people started to demand logs and open meetings from X.Org was great and should be always supported. The board reacted relatively quickly which was nice also. As a open organization, the Foundation has to work to improve more this, specially regarding the financial aspects which is being subject of discussions lately.
* 2) In the past, financials have been dealt with in a less than optimal way, but in the last year a lot of effort has been put into creating solid financial records for the last 5 years, so that incorporation can happen. This work is still underway. What is your opinion about this, where do you see room for improvement? * More transparency is good. Everything to do with financials is pain, thuogh, and that's not an reflection of the board as much as the banking system we have. The work is needed, and good progress is being made. As I elaborated before a bit, this is a must. I believe the current directors made already the necessary effort to dig the past records. At the same time, and obviously, mistaken happened there due not finding all of those, so there is room for improvement. Therefore, all we can do now is to focus on the current and next financial logs and for that not only the directors but also members can help guaranteeing everything is going well.
* 3) As stated in the Foundation bylaws, only a maximum of 2 of the 8 board seats can be taken by employees of the same company. In the past there was a situation where there were more than two of the same company on the board, after some board member changed affiliation. What is your opinion about this, how would you prefer to resolve such a situation? * Just the same as before when it happened: We take the top-ranked candidate for the seat. Alan suggested that we up the number from 2 to 3, so as not to eliminate candidates that care enough to contribute to the board just because they're employed by one of the larger X.Org contributors. I'm neutral on this -- it seems like a good thing to do for the X.Org board, since it doesn't involve itself in technical direction at all, but it means that I would have less excuse for not running at some point. There's only one way we can resolve such a situation - getting the three members in question together to discuss it, with the simple directive that "Three members enter, two members leave." The bylaws don't allow us to just ignore it. Although is entirely board’s fault, all members must help when the bylaw is not being followed correctly and some aspects are interpreted wrongly.
* 3b) As a follow-up, do you still think this restriction is relevant, and would you change/remove it in any way?? *
We've been fortunate to never have any serious problems caused here, and the board members have historically done a good job of representing the best interests of the community over their employers, but clauses like this are designed to prevent the worst case, not deal with the normal case. I think it's still useful to have some limit, to avoid the appearance of becoming a non-independent organization (see for instance the recent blogs and stories around the proposed OpenJDK governance). It does unfortunately limit the board membership, which as others have noted, is always a challenge to get enough qualified candidates each election. I do think we should continue the discussion from the last board meeting of re-examining it - possibly raising the limit to 3, which still prevents any one company from stacking the board with enough members to have a majority vote.
* 4) What is your opinion about the past and the current board elections. Do you have any suggestions for improvement? * The elections system is fine. They're a pain to organize, which is why the schedule is often missed. Lately the elections have chose candidates with a known background in X.Org community. This is enough to say that the election process works.
* 5) This years conference was held in Toulouse, France. Did you have the chance to visit this, or any previous conferences? For 2011 one proposal was already made to hold the conference in Chicago. Opinions/Suggestions/Proposals? * Couldn't do the last one due to a conflicting event. XDS/XDC have been useful conferences for setting technical direction and improving communication. Yes, I've been fortunate enough to have my employer send me to all but one of the X.Org conferences. (I missed Cambridge, UK due to schedule clashes.) What city the conference is held in is the least important part of a conference proposal. The far more crucial and much harder part is getting the people to organize it and run it. Conferences have to be hold in countries where is affordable to fly, the bureaucracy with foreigns visiting is okay and where we have a good host setting up the organization. Fortunately I never experienced anyone failing in this last point, but I saw already people not going for conferences because of lack of visa. Although USA is not a visa friendly country, I honestly believe that Michael Larabel can influence this, expediting invitation letters for instance in an eventual Chicago’s conference. Oh, of course that all attendees want also to have fun, which is very important!
* 6) A big chunk of spending goes to travel sponsorship. When he learned about the practices of the more recent years, the current treasurer voiced that, when the foundation was formed, travel was usually not sponsored for those gainfully employed to work on related topics. What is your opinion on this? * It's more important to get our contributors together to talk than to point fingers at their current employers for being cheap. The economy was better when the X.Org Foundation was formed - as it worsened, we adjusted to deal with it for the benefit of the community. The majority of travel funding still goes to those for whom X is not their full time jobs, especially to students like our GSoC mentorees. Anyone doing any work related with and surrounding X should be eligible. For a conference for instance, we define a given budget based on the donations we get and current available money, and then set priorities to see who deserves it given the involvement of such the person.
* 7) Now, a topic quite close to the heart of the author of this questionnaire: FOSDEM. 4-5000 free software users and developers over a weekend in winter, join up in the center of Europe. used to have a hugely popular Developers Room there. But the interest from the community has dwindled now. Why do you think this is so? Should this be different? Do you have any suggestions? * I was made unwelcome by the organizer of the FOSDEM dev room, and would probably not bother with it again. FOSDEM is an excellent conference, though, which I would attend again. I believe FOSDEM greatly suffers from being too close in time to, and that X.Org developers have generally been attending the conference more directly relevant to them, not the one with much wider scope of all open source, and with more limited travel budgets, have an easier time getting funding for LCA than FOSDEM. The interest for X was never that big. Just a few geeks are interested in hacking on drivers or spending hours debugging a complex code of a compositor manager interacting with a X server and its non-trivial window stack. The past experience shown that is not easy to attract developers for X development and very likely a newbie will rather go learn a SDK high level before. X conferences have been very small, with deep and long technical discussions in which several times hardly more than 3 persons in the room can talk about. Although these discussions are good and productive, they also tend to be boring for someone not involved in the subject. One alternative to improve this is to bring the annual conference of X.Org co-located with big events such as FOSDEM.
* 8) The topics of an trademark and a new logo have been talked about since the formation of the current foundation. Are these really important topics for the board? What is your opinion, do you have any suggestions? * No, they are not important topics for the board in my opinion. Not really. To promote X.Org trademark is for sure very desired by the board. This topic is considered “important” but not “really important”, I would say, so that is the reason why the current directors are not paying much attention at this moment. But then again, this is something that with just a little kick from the board, the members and the community could do the rest of the work. A more proactive director could do this.
* 9) Coordinating Google Summer of Code is another initiative supported by the board. There have also been follow-up initiatives started by the board. What is your opinion about these initiatives and their results? Any suggestions? * They have successfully brought new people into the community. Huge success. They're working well. I guess it is not fair to myself talk about this because I was one that got leveraged by Summer of Code within X community :) So obviously it is important to ramp up newcomers and the Foundation’s Vacation of Code, although without not being that popular still, was a brilliant initiative from the board. We should advertise it better though.
* 10) hosting infrastructure has had its hiccups over the past few years. The loss of all users home directories on and the breach of trust through defamation of a driver repository by former board members come to mind. What is your opinion about the current situation, how would you want to improve it? * Things are running fine for a volunteer organization. I've expressed my opinion clearly on the mailing list many times. The situation is not good. There are room for improvements throughout the whole infrastructure: management of machines, creation and handling of repositories, administration of accounts and all other activities. For the repositories, one problem I noticed is that freedesktopers are not seeing us with good eyes, sometimes even abandoning and going instead for gitorious,, google, github and many others. These services mostly have the same interests in open-source and I am sure we could centralize the efforts in one single place, thus reducing the overall maintenance costs.
* 11) The membership of the foundation is not completely representative with respect to its contributing audience, and it is hard to motivate people to become a member of the foundation. Some people suggest linking commit access with membership. What is your opinion, and do you have any further suggestions? * Having been the person approving members since the first elections process I went through as a board member, I feel that representation in the members list is in fine shape. I like the current system because it allows non-developers involvement in the foundation. I think linking commit access to membership is useful only in that it ties it to the legal agreement in the membership application. I see no benefit to increasing the membership solely for the point of increasing the membership. We get no real benefits from just having a larger number of members on the books. We are doing good already. We are trying to create a culture of development process where the “commit access” is irrelevant. There is one or a few numbers of people only responsible to the final commit; this final commit is based on the reviews that got from the mailing list by any other hacker. It’s truly open and focusing in stability. So, in short, everyone should be able to create repositories at freedesktop, but patches are pushed to repositories upon review only. Membership is a bit different.
* 12) Are there any topics that were overlooked in this questionnaire? Is there something else that you would like to talk about now and/or work on during your term on the board? *
No. Pretty much covered good points. Thank you for elaborating.
* 13) What do you think about this questionnaire? Should this initiative be repeated, and do you have any suggestions for such future repeats? *
Way too long. My suggestion is that it should get opened and announced before the elections to all members discuss a bit the best questions. Also, to limit the number of questions would be better.
* 14) How do you feel about the size of the Xorg board? Should it be changed? * 8 is fine. Seems to work. I don’t have the experience inside the board to tell this, but it seems to be working okay from outside.
* 15) Some have argued that the current election process is flawed. Do you agree? What do you think is flawed and how can it be improved in the future? * Disagree. Seems to work. It is not flawed.
* 16) The Xorg Foundation has been working on getting 501(c)3 non-profit status for a while now. Would you be interested in getting involved with this work? * It is almost done from my understanding. All board members already are involved at some level. I am pretty sure there are other directors or even members with more expertize in this kind of paper work, specially the ones living in USA. If needed, I could help of course.
* 17) It has been brought up in several board meetings that we should donate some money to the SFLC (Software Freedom Law Center) for their help various legal matters. Do you agree with this? * We voted on this, it was near consensus including me. I voted yes. I honestly don’t see much difficulties lately happening where lawyers should be involved. But of course, both X.Org and SFLC are sister organizations and they should help each other anyway. It all depends of the current cash of Foundation.
* 18) Non-profit corporations have certain requirements with respect to where their funding comes from depending on the type of non-profit they are. Should the Xorg Foundation actively solicit donations from the community to fund it's activities (developer conferences, travel expenses, infrastructure expenses, etc.)? * Unless there are legal requirements otherwise, we have had no issues with getting sufficient funding from corporate sponsors and I don't see a reason to change that. I don't see a need right now. The Foundation still has more money than things to fund with it. Other open-source organizations are doing this repeatedly. We should invest some time on it also.
* 19) If you agree with the soliciting funding from the community, would you be interested in taking on a role to help reach that end? If so, what ideas do you have for soliciting these donations? If you don't agree, where should the Xorg foundation look to get it's funding? *
The X.Org Foundation seems to be sufficiently funded by corporate donations at this time. Yes, definitely I’m willing to help. Last year, when I was trying to raise up funds from my company, I asked the Board for a formal letter that I could emit asking for budget contribution. There was none. We could start from this idea for instance.
* 20) With new platforms such as android and programs like wayland, some would say X is becoming less relevant. Do you agree with that statement? Where do you see X going in the future? * X is certainly becoming less relevant in terms of linux window system marketshare. I do see X remaining relevant as a linux desktop windowing system for a long time, because it will take a long time for any competitor to catch up to the relevant features X supports. I see Wayland, like Xgl and similar programs in the past, as being an interesting experiment in future desktop design, and one from which we should be able to learn some things. It's too soon to tell whether it joins Xgl in the experiments that don't work out (but from which we gained valuable insights into what to do instead), or whether it turns into "X12". The X.Org Foundation is not here to promote X11 and the exact current model & implementation at the expense of all other solutions, but to research, develop, and support the window system, and that must include evolving it as necessary. This is why I asked to include Wayland in the projects eligible for the X.Org mentoring in the Google Summer of Code this year. X evolved a lot through the years already with its protocol extensions. Everyone is amazed to see a protocol completing one fourth of century of birthday, where initially was designed for a much simpler environment with different hardware requirements. At the same time, we haven’t been deprecating unused parts of the protocol and this led us to a very big open source implementation that we have nowadays. The productization of it is not practical and the development happens quite slowly. So we have to move on and I guess that is the big technical challenge the board will have to face next. Although the Foundation states explicitly the support for X, it also supports all siblings technologies such as DRI, Mesa, Linux kernel, now Wayland and a dozen of others. So it is important to emphasize that the community remains the same, i.e., of hackers shaping the core of graphics towards a free and open-source desktop experience.
Eric Anholt Alan Coopersmith Stuart Kreitman Bart Massey Tiago Vignatti Carl Worth