OSDL CTO Tim Witham took the stand for his "annual beating" as the subject
of the lab's dealings with the community was discussed. It is not clear
that any real light was generated at the session, but the developers were
at least able to get some things off their chests.
One common request is for community representatives on the OSDL board of
directors. The kernel hackers may respect people like Larry Augustin, but
they do not see him as one of their own. The problem is finding the right
person; those who the community would actually trust tend not to be
interested in the job. That sort of role may well resemble others, such as
president of the U.S., in that anybody who actually wants the job should
almost certainly be disqualified from the start.
The kernel developers would like to see OSDL as a way for interested
companies to fund development in areas of interest. There are definitely
companies which would like to be able to do that (see, for example, the customer panel held earlier in
the day). Would OSDL consider taking on more "fellows," on a per-task
basis, to satisfy this need? That idea will go back and be considered, and
may yet bear fruit.
OSDL's process of creating specifications continues to come under attack.
The actual process is seen as being very closed; specifications are only
released for public review when they are essentially finished. The reason
why that is done, apparently, is that participants have to sign an
"intellectual property agreement" before they can contribute to a
specification. OSDL is concerned about companies inserting submarine
patents into specifications, so it requires contributors to agree that
everything they submit will be freely available for implementation. Any
developer is welcome to sign the agreement and join the process, but kernel
developers tend not to be willing to do that.
Somebody requested that the lab at least respond to comments made during
the public period, and show that it is being responsive. Tim said he could
do that, but pointed out that, so far, he has gotten almost no comments from
the community at all.
The real complaint seems to be that the specifications are looked at as
demands for work from the development community. Even if OSDL, itself,
sees them only as guidelines, it appears that customers are expecting
"carrier grade Linux" compliance from their distributions. No immediate
fixes for this problem were put forward.
>> Next: Development process.
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