Managing Gentoo – a study in quotes

The announcement about seeds lead me to this LWN article. I often talk about the advantages and strengths of Open Source here, so it's only fair that I also talk about where it is weak and can use improvement. Now, we know that Open Source produces better code. But if you look at most of the Open Source projects that have gained mass adoption (think Firefox, Apache, the kernel, etc.) you will notice a few similarities. They have a somewhat closed aspects of them outside of the actual code, the have a somewhat formal organizational structure and they have a set of defined processes and procedures. I think it's clear that as projects get to a certain size and popularity, they need these things. A while ago, Gentoo moved to a more democratic system. From what I'm reading (note: I am not an active Gentoo user nor do I regularly keep up with the Gentoo community in depth. I've spent a decent amount of time over the last day or so reading as many different sources of info as I could, and am drawing my conclusions from that) that transition has caused some problems. To me, when Danny left, Gentoo lost more than its creator – they lost their leader. They're now learning the hard way that consensus is the lack of leadership and the result seems to be analysis paralysis. This isn't something that is specific to Gentoo though, it's an easy trap for any project (especially one that gains wide exposure) can fall into. Losing your leader isn't a death knell, but it certainly exacerbates an already tenuous situation. I think the Gentoo situation is underscored by the fact that even the announcement that Danny is returning was meet with resistance. The issue wasn't at all that he was coming back (quite the contrary), but with the process (or better stated, the lack thereof). There are a couple lessons to be learned here and it's an issue that I pay close attention to, as the founder and leader of LQ. This is a topic I'll be thinking about more and posting about in the near future. In the mean time, I welcome your comments on the subject. It's a topic that I think is vital to the continued healthy growth of the Open Source ecosystem.
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One Response to Managing Gentoo – a study in quotes

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think what makes you join a project is the feeling that you're part of something.
    So without having anyone to guide through the way, people feel lost and sometimes that will even lead them to abandon in search for others. It's harder when various groups start forming without a consensus between them.
    Some like to lead, but most of us like to be lead to something, to take part of a greater achievement. (I think Eric Raymond wrote something similar to this)

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