I am a candidate for the elections 2011 of the board of directors :) Following are my answers based on the questionnaire formulated by the members. You can check other candidates answers here.
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?
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, X.org 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?
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 X.org 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?
Although is entirely board’s fault, all members must help when the bylaw is not being followed correctly and some aspects are interpreted wrongly.
4) What is your opinion about the past and the current X.org board elections. Do you have any suggestions for improvement?
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 X.org 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?
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 X.org foundation was formed, travel was usually not sponsored for those gainfully employed to work on X.org related topics. What is your opinion on this?
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. X.org used to have a hugely popular Developers Room there. But the interest from the X.org community has dwindled now. Why do you think this is so? Should this be different? Do you have any suggestions?
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 X.org trademark and a new X.org logo have been talked about since the formation of the current X.org foundation. Are these really important topics for the X.org board? What is your opinion, do you have any suggestions?
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 X.org board. There have also been follow-up initiatives started by the board. What is your opinion about these initiatives and their results? Any suggestions?
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) X.org hosting infrastructure has had its hiccups over the past few years. The loss of all users home directories on freedesktop.org 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?
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, linaro.org, 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 X.org foundation is not completely representative with respect to its contributing audience, and it is hard to motivate people to become a member of the X.org foundation. Some people suggest linking commit access with membership. What is your opinion, and do you have any further suggestions?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.)?
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?
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 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.