a gentoo “leader”? or at least a republic?

Donnie raises a good thread (starting here) that I encourage folks to catch up on (I just did this afternoon – reading my mail in spurts, trying not to mark read patches people have sent me so I don’t lose them in the shuffle). This isn’t the first time that I’ve seen this topic come up, but I’ve noticed that the topic is generally brought up by folks that have actually been with the project for more than a few years. For good or ill, we remember what it was like under drobbins, and to be blunt without a single scapegoat/organizer/spearhead, there does seem to be a lack of focus. Yes, the focus of Gentoo is to be the best from source distro, giving you as close to what the original upstream wanted as possible. But that’s not a focus, that’s a mission statement (dear god, my time in middle management at work is already catching up with me). Mission statements are broad reaching, long term definitions of what you want. Focus is saying that as a whole we want to achieve X before the next release, and then with a leader role providing that focus, ensure that all the planning and coordination is achieved to meet it. This role shouldn’t be confined to a project lead, but be someone that *can* tap the resources from across the board to get it done.

Donnie’s right, democracy does suck, and that’s why democracy isn’t what most governments adhere to (at least not the successful ones). It’s a republic that you want kids, not democracy; a republic is where a handful of elected (not necessarily by vote, it could also be by time in the project and agreement from existing leaders, for example) leaders agree on a focus for the project, perhaps with a lead among them (yes, this sounds a lot like a lot of stuff pre-metastructure reform) to provide final arbitration, decisions, and goals. And no, that’s not a council – a council by definition is an assembly convened for consultation, deliberation, or advise – not for deciding the course of work and outlining direction for a project.

what would i like to see? well, for one i’d like to see more niche infiltration by gentoo. i’m on the record (openroadtrip) as saying that i think gentoo is where it needs to be, and i still believe that. when i answered that, i was thinking in terms of competition with binary distros, and in that sense we are where we need to be. we are linuxfromscratch on acid and with a package manager to boot. but we could be applying that to other areas – why does knoppix get to be the big daddy of livecd’s? because they made one for every reason under the sun. but i wonder what the response would be if gentoo came up and made it a goal to do that and better – to give you a the power to create custom livecd’s that meet all your needs and include the packages *you* want them to include, down to whether they have a desktop or not and which manager (catalyst+templates is the thought in my head).

So back where i started this post – i may not agree completely 100% with donnie, but this being the umpteenth time i’ve seen an ‘older’ dev make this comments makes me wonder, and it should make you wonder too.

3 thoughts on “a gentoo “leader”? or at least a republic?”

  1. No, democracy doesn’t suck just because it doesn’t work for you. Switzerland has been fairly close to a democracy (with the citizens called to vote on local & federal laws and changes to the constitution several times a year) for over a century now, and it’s been successful enough. It seems to me that most countries are not democracies because the elite doesn’t trust the average citizen to take decisions; focus or speed of decisions is not nearly as much a concern as it is in projects such as Gentoo.

    Besides, using current politics to illustrate what works and what does not is hardly convincing. 200 years ago, most governments were not republics (not even the successful ones). Hence republics suck!?

  2. Its all about context. If you want to talk the nationstate, you still have to look pretty hard to find a government based solely on democracy rather than the republic. Switzerland is one of the few exceptions to this, not the standard, and if I remember correctly (and I might not, been a while since I lived in Riva San Vitale down south, and about just as long since the dust started to settle on my degree in political science) even in switzerland the expression of ‘democracy’ varies between the cantons.

    The context this was actually directed at was the leadership of a large project, and I think that this is a worthy distinction to make. My opine, based on experience in the project, is that Gentoo was more proactive, even more recognized and noteworthy, when it fell under a single leadership rather than the council system that arose to replace that. Council’s could work if, like in your example of Switzerland, our council was more forceful and direction defining. This is not a sleight against our council, either, as (i’m tired, so the logic behind this may be vague to discern) they do work hard, but they exist in a mind-culture where we try to appease all parties, offend none, the political correct way of operating that ultimately leads to the stagnation that I think Donnie is lashing back at, and that I agree with.

    Now dropping one form of government for another is no solution, I realize, but folks need to realize that there is dissatisfaction with the mechanism of the government. I don’t have the oneshot solution, even if there is one – but maybe in reading these rambles the pieces will fit together for someone and they will be carried by this wave to the solution. Maybe that person will be a member of the council, and able to act directly. Maybe not.

    These sagely words of my grandfather are pecking at my brain as I head for bed – opinions are like a$$holes, everyone’s got one šŸ˜‰

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