OpenSolaris Governance: It’s time to start caring

Posted on January 23, 2007

I’ve been involved in OpenSolaris Governance from the very beginning, but I’ve remained silent about it in this blog all that time because I didn’t feel it was at a place where most people should really worry about it. That time has ended. If you are interested in OpenSolaris Governance, now is the time to start caring, learning, watching, and getting involved.

To briefly bring you up to date, we’ve always know that for OpenSolaris to really survive it needed a solid structure on which to build the community. That began with the license and needed to be hammered into place before any code was released and so Sun (at some unknown point in time) started working on the license that would be used for the code release. Claire Giordano, Danese Cooper (aka “The Diva”), Andy Tucker (all 3 have left Sun incidentally), and an untold host of others worked long and hard and produced a preliminary version of the CDDL. In late 2004 Sun created an OpenSolaris Pilot Program, some of the members were invited, most (including myself) asked to be part of it when learning about it in Jim Grisanzio’s blog. The pilot lasted for about 7 months, during which time the community reviewed and helped tweek the CDDL before it was submitted and approved by the OSI, and we elected a Community Advisory Board (CAB) consisting of 2 Sun people, 2 community people, and 1 neutral party.

OpenSolaris officially “opened” on June 14th, 2005 complete with OSI approved license, code, community infrastructure (website, mailing lists, etc) and governing board. The purpose of that governing board was to put measures in place so that it could replace itself with a governing board that was elected by the entire (post-pilot) community. In order to do that several things had to happen.

The first phase was to create a charter, a declaration of independence if you will. This document was predominately written by Keith Wesolowski who served on a CAB working board to create it, of which Stephen Hahn and I are also part of to this day. The OpenSolaris Charter was unanimously adopted by the CAB and then approved by Sun on February 10th, 2006. The charter defined the path toward full governance including time lines, procedures, and included failsafe provisions. The CAB was thereafter known as the “OpenSolaris Governing Board” (OGB) of which the 5 CAB members would be initial members of tasked with creating a constitution.

The next task was for this initial OGB to create a constitution confirming to the requirements (but not limited to) set forth in the charter and then to, prior to a failsafe date, ratify and elect a new OGB “in accordance with the terms of a properly ratified Constitution”. Drafts of the Constitution were edited on the Genunix Wiki and all revisions are a part of public record. The current iteration of the OpenSolaris Constitution was primarily authored by Roy Fielding as OpenSolaris Governance Draft 03. During this time the OGB elected to re-elect itself following the failsafe date set forth in the Charter of 30 June 2006, and the move was approved by Sun. According to the Charter the next interim OGB would have 6 months to complete the tasks. Currently the original OGB remains in place and is currently moving to extend itself for another 6 month period. Both extensions were based on the belief that the OGB was sufficiently close to completing its task that bringing in a fresh board would only delay things. On January 2nd, 2007, Stephen Harpster, Director of Sun’s Open Source Software group, announced that Sun had approved and signed the constitution.

And that brings us to the present. The OGB, assisted significantly by Dr. Stephen Hahn of Sun, has collected information from all the OpenSolaris communities to establish “initial membership” of the community organization in order to move toward ratification and balloted elections for the community elected OGB. Schedules are currently being worked on for the various events that will take place in this effort.

If you have an interest in the governance of OpenSolaris now is a great time to get informed and involved in the process before your suddenly asked to fill out a ballot. To get started, you should read throughly the following important documents:

  1. The Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL)
  2. The OpenSolaris Charter
  3. OpenSolaris Governance: Draft 03 (The Constitution)

In addition, spend some time looking around the CAB/OGB Community pages and the CAB-Discuss Mailing List Archive. If you get an interest in becoming more involved subscribe the CAB-Discuss mailing list and be apprised and involved in events as they unfold.

OpenSolaris is still in its infancy in many ways. If you looked back at Linux and wished that you’d be apart of those early days know that you can with OpenSolaris. Even once the constitution is ratified and the community elected OGB is in place we still have a lot of work to do, namely in terms of the development process and how that will both evolve and interact within the framework of the constitution. Get excited, get informed, get involved and be part of something extraordinary for the benefit of us all as a community rallied around something great.