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GNOME: Havoc Pennington Proposes a Flamewar-Quelling "GNOME Enhancement Procedure"

Jun 19, 2001, 03:17 (49 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Hall)

By Michael Hall, Editor

GNOME 2.0 Release Manager Martin Baulig's resignation from his position yesterday was part of a broader, more extended conflict within the GNOME developer community. Havoc Pennington has written a document, currently under discussion, that addresses the dynamics that caused the conflict to become so protracted and proposes ways to mend them.

Entitled "GNOME Enhancement Procedure," the document is centered around "recommendations for how to review changes within modules. It covers changes to libraries and APIs, and also major UI changes and the like," writes Pennington in the document's introduction.

The plan calls for the creation of a "gnome-enhancement-announce" mailing list, and a procedure that requires maintainers of GNOME modules to publish "requests for proposals" (RFPs) to that list when major changes may be required of a given component. In addition, an ad-hoc "list of responsible maintainers," must be designated, limited to members of the GNOME Foundation (which is loosely defined as any contributor to the overall project) and parties with specific technical expertise or an immediate stake in the work in question.

To "create a conservative bias" and encourage consensus-building, two-thirds majority votes are also required to move forward from the RFP phase, which is used to describe the design issues requiring resolution to a general discussion where proposals on an actual solution are presented. The document calls for a fourteen-day-long discussion period that may be: terminated without action if no proposal is deemed adequate, extended for further discussion, or ended with an expectation that a proposed solution will be implemented.

Writes Pennington, "We need a way to make final decisions and reach agreement on large changes to the GNOME Project. Otherwise, arguments drag on endlessly about our technical direction, and people feel the need to get the last and loudest word in discussions because it's unclear when or how a decision will be made."

The complete document may be found at http://pobox.com/~hp/policy.html

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