Re: SPI Workshop/Brainstorming Session at Debconf

From: Theodore Ts'o <tytso(at)mit(dot)edu>
To: spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org, spi-board(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
Subject: Re: SPI Workshop/Brainstorming Session at Debconf
Date: 2003-07-19 23:34:06
Message-ID: 20030719233406.GA1019@think
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On Sat, Jul 19, 2003 at 01:29:40PM +0200, Wichert Akkerman wrote:
> I already disagree here. Debian's aim is to provide a free operation
> system, developer in an open manner. SPI's aim is to help organisations
> to develop and distribute open hardware and software (see
> It naturally follows that Debian fits
> that very well, but there are also many other projects which fit just
> as naturally.
> Yes, SPI was founded because these services were needed for Debian, but
> the founders were wise enough to realise that Debian is not unique in
> needing them. In my opinion it would be an error to suddenly forget
> about all other projects and focus solely on Debian.

Perhaps an interesting thing to think about is what differentiates the
Apache Foundation and the SPI. Both seem to have very similar
functions --- they provide a legal framework for organizations
interested in Open Source software. Both have a "key project" which
was the original reason for founding each respective organiztion, but
which now support many other projects in their respective frameworks.

One difference is that the Apache foundation seems to be a bit active
and energetic about telling the world that they exist, and that they
are open to hosting helping projects that wish to work under their

Now, before anyone gets any ideas, I'm not suggesting at this time
that the SPI and Apache foundation should merge, or any such
foolishness.(*) Only that it would perhaps be a useful exercise for
the board to consider in what ways the SPI and Apache foundation are
similar, and in what ways the SPI is unique and distinguishes itself
from the Apache foundation.

Put another way, suppose someone came up to you, and said, "our
particular project needs a legal/fincancial home to so we can accept
donations, et. al., and we have a couple of options, including (a)
affiliating with the SPI, (b) affiliating with the Apache Foundation,
(c), or creating our own non-profit organization with its own board
and legal charter. Please advise us what we should do". What advice
would you give that particular project leader, and why?

- Ted

(*) Although if the SPI had continued to have trouble finding
energetic volunteers willing to serve as officiers and board members,
it's something I would have suggested --- it's hard to
suckers^H^H^H^H^H^H^H conscientious works willing to serve on the
boards of such organizations, and who will do the thankless work of
worrying about budgets, doing the accounting, dealing with lawyers,
and so on.

> > I know some people will protest and say "what about the projects that
> > SPI hosts?". Well, what about it? Is there a problem saying "Debian
> > hosts Fresco"?
> Fresco is not a Debian project. It has nothing to do with developing an
> operation system or any of Debian's goals. It's free software, but
> that is about it.
> > I mean, don't we host the source, bugs, CVS and other resources for
> > thousands of other Open Source projects?
> We don't.
> > Take the HURD for example. We've virtually become the center of
> > development. Does the HURD have to become a SPI project or is it a
> > Debian project? Can Debian have projects? Is the distinction even
> > meaningful? I say no.
> The HURD is not a Debian project. They have their own CVS, their own
> webapges and just happen to (also) use a mailinglist on the Debian
> listserver.
> Of course there are disadvantages to not using the name Debian; it is
> much harder to get donations for example (SPI has needed a second server
> for a long time for example but all donations seem to go directly to
> Debian). However how is this different from say FSF and the GNU project?
> You don't see the FSF being renamed to 'the GNU foundation'. Their goals
> are compatible, but they are not the same. Just as Debian and SPI.
> SPI is not a piece of equipment, it is an organisation with its own
> goal. Those are compatible with the goals of Debian, Fresco and many
> other projects (free software and others). Tying it too Debian would
> cause confusion and people missing that fact.
> Wichert.
> --
> Wichert Akkerman <wichert(at)wiggy(dot)net> It is simple to make things.
> It is hard to make things simple.
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> Spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org



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