Rocky Linux Foundation

It is a great idea to allow people and organizations to donate for a great cause like this. I’m in!

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I would rather wait and see how everything here is organized before investing money. I’m not entirely sure how open or democratic things are going to be in the future. CentOS was truly community by name but not really by developing and organization. And it seems some decisions so far are made without voting or community feedback from most users and are just decided by one or two individuals in the project. That is concerning if some people expect here to be actively working or sharing their time but in the end decisions are not made based on the community as a whole but just a tiny group of people.

If the whole project is under a few overlords then it’s not really different from just using something sponsored by a major company like Oracle Linux or the upcoming CloudLinux. If Rocky Linux is going to be truly community based (let’s hope that…) I’m not seeing enough asking in terms of feedback and organization to the general users here so far. All I’m aware is who started this but I have little to no idea who else is involved so far and making decisions. While it’s nice to see how optimist some people here are, in particular great ideas about how the foundation should work, something tells me it will not be that open and democratic as most of us expect. There is a reason Red Hat was able to take over CentOS in the first place, and if Rocky Linux is organized the same way it will be the same story in a couple of years. I rather wait how open everything will be before thinking about donations or major contributions.

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@netz
Hi Volker!
Thanks for ringing the alarm bell, I think that we (the Community) should keep your long-term concerns in mind.

As you know, the Rocky Linux project is in its 1st week of existence.
What I understand so far is that the Community Managers and the Community want to deliver a working distro a.s.a.p., and rumors are that could be around 2021Q1/Q2.

The sentiment I am getting from the discussion here is like “Yes, we need to find a way to protect the Project against what has happened to CentOS, but we’ll figure that out later”.

I would also like to cite Gregory Kurtzer (@gmk) about democratizing this Community (from Slack):

This is a great thread, and apologies for my latency. At the moment, and until the landscape is better understood, I will maintain the lead of Rocky Linux. This may change in the future, but for now I believe this is best for the project and the community.
My commitment is to the project and keeping the project open and free from commercial interest (even from my own company). I’m not saying that organizations shouldn’t monetize on Rocky Linux, quite the opposite, but the decisions for the project should always be in the best interest of the project and community of users. To the best of my ability, I will always ensure that happens or I will step down.
https://hpcng.slack.com/archives/C01GM1MH5U4/p1607655382488900?thread_ts=1607637371.399200&cid=C01GM1MH5U4

I think it is a good idea to deliver a working distro first, and then democratize it (hopefully) later.

Organizations using CentOS need a replacement for EL 8 before end of 2021. That’s a deadline set by the circumstances.

In the current situation (still in week 1), there is no guarantee that the Project will become as open as desired (and as necessary), but the Community managers appear to have noble intents.

Donating/investing early is always riskier than investing late, but at the same time, early dollars are more powerful.

At this time, I am optimistic about this project, and that’s why I chose to support it.

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Did it really have to be Rocky Linux? It is good to pay tribute to the other colleague who helped create one of the best distributions that linux has had, but when hearing the name, the Rocky movie saga does not stop coming to mind and frankly, I can’t finish it take seriously, at least the name, to put it in a serious undertaking. “Hey look, we are such a company in which we have invoiced more than € 2,000,000 per year and our clients still invoice more than we do, we believe in an IT team that knows how to offer themselves the support of the entire system but they have installed Rocky Linux”. I don’t know, just let the community choose the name.

PS: Thankful you have to be with the community for the effort they want to make a new fork, thank you very much community!

Greetings,

I used to be the President of ClearFoundation and the former CTO of ClearCenter. My team created ClearOS, a derivative Linux distribution based on CentOS and also based on RHEL (from time to time). When CentOS was struggling to release a version 6, we released a full version of the core a week before CentOS was able to overcome the last few packages. Our team also helped the CentOS team resolve the last few dependencies.

This project intrigues me and I will share as much as I can and would like to be involved as long as the governance is set up correctly. First on governance…

While democracies are neat because of the premise that everyone gets a voice, they can be pretty awful when those that are doing (think ants and grasshoppers fable) are outvoted by a large uninformed base. Meritocracies are great but it makes it difficult for upcoming people with fresh ideas to overturn a recalcitrant core of people with more time. Perhaps the best type of rule is where the rules rule. Having a well thought out set of rules lets everyone know the game that is being played. Then all you need is to have good governance on how rules are adopted.

Second, on governance. Location of your non-profit needs to be carefully selected. For example, ClearFoundation was originally set up in New Zealand for two key reasons: 1) NZ is ranked in the top 10 places in the world for economic freedom, and 2) Importantly, NZ does NOT recognize software patents. This decision for the ClearFoundation was made largely on the findings, evidences, and case particulars of the SCO vs. Everybody running Linux kerfuffle. Unlike many countries (even the EU is now battling a push for software patents), NZ law specifically prohibits software patents on all software except implicit embedded software.

On architecture. For compatibility reasons, using the direct CentOS packages was never much of an issue for us at ClearOS. The differences between us was slight but anachronistically large. There are two key things that can be done to maintain a CentOS-esque feeling to your distribution. In fact, there is no problem in running CentOS as CentOS, complete with branding and trademark if your distribution path is what you are selling and not brand. If you are worried about brand, there are a few brand packages that you have to contend with. CentOS’ own fight against Redhat made the split of these possible but it is possible that IBM/Redhat will play new shenanigans. Even so, a viable path would be to create a mirror of CentOS off to the side, and then promote only those package version which Redhat also promotes. If Redhat is truly compliant with the terms of GPL, the source packages from which CentOS is built will be the same. If not, then RHEL will be in violation and you will need to make a legal claim against them. But if they do keep it the same, you can just maintain an anachronistically derived version of CentOS which is package for package compatible with RHEL. No rebrand necessary…just use the Rocky mirrors instead and maintain the good old CentOS feel.

There are tricks, however, that can be played and RHEL has played these tricks on the CentOS community before. One of those is to where package dependencies call packages that are included. There are several ways around this and you may need to set up some builders to overcome this. In the past, we used gitlab and our own builders to get around these issues.

Anyways, let me know if I can be a help on governance, packages, or starting non-profits.

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@daveloper, I agree that we can’t ignore governance for long. Right now, there is a small core of people focused on technical work and a huge crowd of volunteers waiting for instructions.

Governance and structure is coming soon. This, along with the foundation for infrastructure and security, are top priorities for us.

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I am but a noob, but If I may…

I participated heavily in Plex in the beginning, and they listened to the community in the beginning. Most of the community is outraged at some of the changes made in the last year, so much so that they are gathering in other communities like jellyfish. But Plex is forever lost.

With that being said, this community should have a failsafe of some kind. A Veto, one might say. I honestly don’t know what or how it would be best implemented.

I second the above. The core team needs to urgently make a move and come forward clearly and plainly and express their planning, worries and aspirations. That is what a community is. Nothing is carved n stone at this stage, just come forward, introduce the whole thing and let us write history.

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Wasn’t ClearOS sold to HP eventually?

I agree 100% with you that a democracy might not work and even push back some organizations, this is why private companies tend to deliver faster than governments but for some specific things like here, even if its slow it’s a path that will guarantee stability in the long run. In the end what has to be made here is no rocket science. It’s not even hard at all. It’s not creating a new product or OS but just repacking existing code.

Once a first release is out, it is basically just keeping up to date and compiling as fast as patches are released, in that sense once Red Hat took over CentOS they purposely delayed it as opposed to smaller companies doing it faster. With automation and proper specific things in place there is only one reason to keep using an operating system like this, open and free (always), not just now. I disagree with the concept of lets gets the OS first and then see the rest. This is the perfect example of what happen to every other distro clone in the past. It is all nice promises in public but eventually the project leaders see that this can actually give them some influence or commercial benefits in the future and decide to make it less open as it really should be.

This also seems a bit like “Let us receive all the public help as we can for free and then when we have a a real product lets see the rest”. I don’t think it’s fair for those that are donating their time without any clear promise to the future. I want to be wrong but I see the same over and over again over the years with projects like this that are only open in name but the real deal is how they are legally organized and if that is not really open, the rest are just words in the wind.

Is it really a community? I don’t think some decisions were made so far by user voting or feedback. I suspect this will be one more ClearOS, CentOS or CoreOS which will be sold or controlled by a few individuals in the future. Which makes it of little interested to me if the trademark and brand is controlled by one person and so is the foundation or legal entity in the future. Then it’s not truly community powered.

I’m tired of the same every couple of years. I want to see a true open source foundation from day one that will never be able to be sold or controlled by a single individual or major company. Something completely neutral and powered by its users, not just the will of a few. Otherwise, why invest my time and money…

These are valid concerns because this is just starting and there is time to do it correctly from day one. Seems sloppy just to start building something without a clear path to the future.

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What you said is not only true for Plex but almost every project I saw in the past. They all start this way, nice and open and then suddenly they start to push back against the community because the founders never really decided to let it go or completely lose control. At that point they don’t need the initial users anymore either because the project is big enough to sustain grow.

If someone starts a project like this and is not willing to let it go from day one to others (no, not people controlled by him or her…) but others they don’t know or the rest of the people involved (community), then it was never really open. Only open as using the software, not open as where we go in the future regarding development and major decisions.

I agree completely with you. I have seen the same story repeated again and again: a whole bunch of willing capable geniuses putting their time and effort in an “open” project and then suddenly discovered that in the background a few individuals were controlling the whole legal part. I was also bitten a couple of times (and I am no genious!). It feels very ridiculous when this happens. Right now what I see is a core team of people making crucial decisions. They need to come forward and Open the whole thing up. I will also wait for a much clearer picture than the one right now for Rocky Linux.

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ClearOS was not sold to HP. Rather it was being preinstalled on some HPE SMB-targetted servers. This is unusual for HPE as they don’t typically preinstall. Sorry you were misinformed. Democracies don’t guarantee stability. Certainly democratic structures are necessary in stable organizations but just plain old democracy is also called mobocracy. The analogy is two wolves and one sheep deciding what is for dinner, Ben Franklin famously taught. There are many fans of democracies but few fans of democracy are historians. Jefferson stated, “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” Hamilton stated, “Real liberty is not found in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments. If we incline too much to democracy we shall soon shoot into a monarchy, or some other form of a dictatorship.” Madison stated that "[Democracies] have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

It is a far better thing to establish organizational documents as the ‘rule of law’ within an organization where the appeal can be made to the founding document as opposed to taking a vote of the people that happen to show up at a meeting.

CentOS has long benefitted from Redhat and Redhat has long benefitted from CentOS. It was a bad move for the CentOS leadership to accept positions within Redhat and it is a bad move what Redhat has done to force the CentOS community to become their beta testers. Community is essential to open source. That being said, either Rocky will tie its boat to RHEL or it won’t. If it desires pure independence and fork away from Redhat completely, it will go the way of a pure community project. Nothing bad with that there is a lot to learn from those other communities in what works for governance and more importantly, what doesn’t work.

If it does a rebuild of SRPMS from Redhat, it will certainly take CentOS’ place and CentOS in turn will take over Fedora’s place in the ecosystem of things. The CentOS community was also in an adversarial position vs. Redhat and had to deal with legal demarcation over brands, threats, purposeful obfuscation on Redhat’s part, eventual detente, cooperation, and then M&A. So the question is, if the government of this organization is a democracy or a meritocracy, what protections exist to prevent it repeating the same path that CentOS took. Which takes us back to the founding documents. If the rule of the organization is left to “those that are donating their time without any clear promise to the future.” Then what is to prevent Redhat from putting knowledgeable people within the organization who are paid by them to meritocratically rise to the top and democratically vote a different direction?

If you want to truely see an open source foundation that from day one will NEVER be sold or controlled by powers that will sell out to another company then what you need is controlling governance that will withstand the administrations of governance of their day.

I second your approach on

“It is a far better thing to establish organizational documents as the ‘rule of law’ within an organization where the appeal can be made to the founding document as opposed to taking a vote of the people that happen to show up at a meeting.”

I will not place hours of effort and time to a project that will betray it’s core values in the future and leave me entirely destitute… these documents must address the failures the brought CentOS to this point, how to prevent it from happening again and if it does happen what is the community exit strategy. Example the USA, Constitution & Bills of Rights, Justice system to prove if something is constitutional or not, and if Mob Rule or Democra"cy" as it called takes over, we with our 2nd amendment right shoot up the place…

And for anyone saying that would not happen in both cases, I remember some folks saying RHEL acquiring CentOS was a great idea and how everything was going to be fine… they wouldn’t do anything wrong… uuuu… ikes they did now your here. So be a good human and learn with your mistakes.

Most democracies don’t work like that at all, even the US is a republic federation for that reason because the founding fathers realized that vote along by the majority will lead to oppression of the minorities. I don’t disagree with you but we are not talking here about governing a country or people but just a software, an open organization does not mean there is no leadership or mob by the mass takes over, its just means the majority of people that contribute will have some voice. This is different from just being open as “we take people’s contributions but in the end we do what we want”. There are many systems and methods in place to avoid mob rule by the majority just like there are similar regulations that can avoid the opposite which is one group of people becoming tyrants. Both extremes are equally bad and most open source projects are just open when it comes to collaborations and code but not major decisions. Not saying this is the case here, just saying this is what I see in general.

As for what you mentioned regarding Red Hat and CentOS, this is precisely what those rules would avoid. If a foundation has 5 members and 3 of them belong to the same company, then it means that the company has more vote and influence than everyone else, it’s their project at that point. And cheating systems like that are very easily by naming people by proxy, something that can’t happen when the people are picked by in a public way as a community, it’s hard to try to put your people at that point without everyone else noticing what is going on.

As for ClearOS, I’m sorry if I got this wrong, but I had the impression HP is the one that controls the project. Does it matter if it’s an open foundation when I have the stick of the money to grand or take away as I wish? My point is that you can be as open as you want in papers but in the end if a single entity influences you then you are not as open as you claim to be in papers or marketing material. Of course, everyone needs funding, that is fine, the problem is when your whole organization has most of its income from a single company, think here Mozilla and Google and completely relies on that single entity to survive. Or when those donations or partnerships come with strings attached. One thing is when I give my money away in a truly unselfish way or if I give away money expecting my name to be promoted or get something in return.

The Linux foundations works well because not a single company is allowed to take over. The reason is that other companies self police others as they know how detrimental it would be if a single party is able to take over. The main reason is they have thousands of companies behind, not just a few you can count with one hand. And Linux works fine for this reason without a single entity trying to take control.

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I think you misunderstood my opinion here. When I mentioned community based or vote by democracy that does not mean a lawless foundation, organization or project without objectives on which everyone argues about every little detail. The opposite. It is all about making very strong laws and rules from day one to avoid a single party, individual or company from taking over or gaining more influence than others. My argument here is making a strong base foundation with in laws that would never allow this in the future.

Sorry bud, I do completely understand the differences. I was just noting on the similarities of that particular structure that must have the same effect. We are in the same page, I was just exemplifying how we need to watch for those items with care when these documents do come to light.

And HPE is mentioned 44 times on ClearOS’s homepage if they are not HPE’s bitch, I’m a ten foot hobbit.

Was soll das dann werden Stiftung oder e.V.?

Hey @ToniFeric,

As an update to this, “The Rocky Linux Foundation” has been incorporated in Delaware, USA. For more on this, check out our latest community update.


There’s also some additional conversation about this in #rocky-legal on Slack if anyone is interested in participating.

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