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From Niall Pemberton <>
Subject Re: A lot of bodies, a lot of money, and a source-dump release.
Date Tue, 07 Jun 2011 09:11:02 GMT
I have concerns about the proposal, but not with the ones you raise.

If you're right about the costs, they not going to hit from day one -
as the initial effort will be in building the community and building
something that can be released and very little needed in terms of end
users - and the ASF has more than enough resources to cope with that.
The ASF has IMO a great track record in fund raising and is not
without resources (see the latest treasurers report[1]) and if this
project succeeds here I wouldn't be surprised to see its success bring
in an increase in ASF funding. If the project failed, then I also
doubt that we would have incurred that much expenditure.

Needing a large community, being able to cope with an IBM pullout &
releasing lots of binaries are all things this project would need to
demonstrate they can deal with before graduating. If they can't then
they wouldn't become an official ASF project.

I also don't think the user support and the ASF lack of experience is
that big a deal. It will take more hardware and consume more time from
the infra engineers - but we already have pretty impressive infra
thats on a pretty big scale. The OOo project will need to build the
community of volunteers to support the end users and the experience
that requires - that will be a task that needs to start in incubation
- if not complete. That will be a difficult task - but IMO  thats not
a reason not to try and lack of experience in that area is not a
reason not to accept the proposal.



On Tue, Jun 7, 2011 at 2:40 AM, Marvin Humphrey <> wrote:
> Greetings,
> After a long period of reflection, I have accumulated many serious concerns
> about the viability of the proposed OOo podling.  There are a lot of unknowns
> which make it hard to predict whether the project will become self-sustaining
> -- but while the grand experiment plays out, it is going to put a great deal
> of strain on the ASF's resources, institutions, and community.
> First, it has been pointed out that the ASF does not have significant
> experience with end-user applications.  We will have to thrash out how to do
> end-user support well, and I expect many painful mistakes along the way which
> damage the goodwill associated with the Apache brand.
> Second, others have noted that the ASF is accustomed to making source
> releases, that figuring out how to release thousands of binaries is going to
> be hard, that our current QA resources and traditions are nowhere near
> adequate, and that it is doubtful that our network of mirrors is up to the
> task of distribution.
> Third, everyone acknowledges that this huge, complex, old code base is going
> to require a very large community to sustain it on an ongoing basis.  I am
> satisfied that the current list of initial committers achieves a minimum of
> diversity to suggest that the podling has a shot, but we are way, way, way
> away from what it would take to graduate and become a healthy top-level Apache
> project.
> Unfortunately, given the sordid history of, expanding the
> community is going to be difficult.  A lot of volunteers who have worked hard
> to achieve proficiency with the software are committed to the competing
> LibreOffice fork, which has a divergent codebase.  A second crucial talent
> pool -- Oracle's employees -- also appears to be off-limits, except in
> managing the transition.  We are left with IBM to provide the bulk of the core
> dev expertise -- which would ordinarily be fine for an Incubator podling, but
> the scope of this project makes it a special case.
> Sadly, in my opinion early outreach has been hampered by a sustained series of
> impolitic communiques on the part of certain project personnel, which continued
> even after repeated guidance from ASF veterans.  Improving understanding of
> open source culture is part of incubation and there is always time for
> redemption, but the fumbled launch of the recruitment effort which is so vital
> to this podling's survival has dealt it a cruel setback.
> The proposed podling also has to be prepared for the pullout of IBM at any
> moment, Harmony-style.  Business is business, and this is what the ASF signs
> up for by being a commercial-friendly organization -- we need to be wary and
> hedge our bets.  An OOo podling/project is necessarily going to be
> extraordinarily reliant on the expertise of paid developers.  The ASF has
> ample experience with the instability of such arrangements, and it should read
> negatively on this proposal.
> Given all these challenges, I believe that the proposal needs substantial
> improvement, and that it will have to be IBM who steps up.
> First, we need to see a lot of bodies.
> By necessity, these will come from IBM to start with, and I see that there are
> now five individuals on the wiki listing IBM as their affilication.  My
> seat-of-the-pants target is that the initial committer ranks should clear what
> is necessary to publish and support a first consumer release by a wide margin.
> Second, we need to see a lot of money.
> I would like to see a budget drafted with the assistance of the Infrastructure
> team spec'ing out machines, bandwidth, etc, which should exceed the predicted
> requirements by a comfortable multiple (3x-10x), and in a configuration which
> caters to the expertise of existing Infrastructure staff.  I would then like
> to see a binding committment from IBM to fund this budget -- with cash, not
> hardware donations.  It seems to me that proceeding in phases would be fine,
> but the ASF must be ahead of the game at all times to account for a potential
> podling-killing IBM withdrawal announcement.
> It also seems to me that an increased donation from IBM to the ASF general
> fund would be appropriate, considering the administrative, PR, legal, and
> project-management costs of swallowing this enormous beast and all the
> bitterness that has attached to it over time.
> Lastly, I would like to see the proposal's backers comment on the possibility
> of setting an early goal to deliver an IP-clean ALv2 source-dump release --
> basically, the cleaned-up code dump that Greg Stein has pondered (which may
> prove trickier to deliver than we anticipate -- are there shortcuts to
> rewriting around problematic dependencies?).
> I think there's a substantial chance that this podling will not make it through
> to graduation, and it may not even make it through to a successful consumer
> release depending on IBM's stamina and business interests.  If it doesn't make
> it, I don't want the ASF to have absorbed mammoth opportunity costs and
> volunteer time without getting anything in return.
> Thus, in my mind it would be good to see the podling prioritize the publication
> of an IP-clean source dump which can be strip-mined by IBM, TDF, me, you, or
> anybody else under the terms of the ALv2.  It would be nice if it built and
> ran, but to my mind that's a lower priority than just putting something out
> there that people can scavenge with confidence.
> Once that's done, then we shall see if the podling can muster the heroic
> endurance that will be needed to launch a successful consumer release, and do
> it in a timely manner -- but with the source-dump release in the podling's back
> pocket, we can still be pleased with what has been accomplished even if the
> end-user effort stalls.
> For reasons articulated by Ralph Goers[1] and Bill Rowe[2], I generally favor
> giving the OOo proposal a chance, but I also believe that it is accompanied by
> exceptional costs and risks to the Foundation which need to be taken into
> account.  In theory, I would like to see companies such as Oracle encouraged to
> open-source valuable software through us under a permissive license, but I'm
> displeased that we're to take ownership of something stained by buckets of bad
> blood, and it doesn't make sense to accept the gift at any cost.  I also want
> to say "yes!" when companies such as IBM propose to work within our framework,
> but I hope that if we say to them that while we greatly value our existing
> working relationships with IBM employees on other Apache projects, this one is
> so messy, costly, and risky that must decline, they will understand.
> Therefore, if those three concerns -- bodies, money, and a source-dump release
> -- cannot be addressed, I will regretfully vote -1 to deny the OOo podling
> entry into the Incubator.
> Marvin Humphrey
> [1]
> [2]
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