Funny coincidence: mere days after I decide to re-post my views on open-source, Daniel Robbins, of Gentoo fame, decides to post a late-night rant trying to address the shortcomings of the Gentoo Foundation.
More interesting than his original post, though, I enjoyed reading most comments as well as his own answers to these comments. The phrase “ Benevolent Dictator “ emerges fairly early on, and obviously this is what it is about. My own experience was very similar, albeit less significant to the community at large since it was with a project that, in the end, was never really jump-started. But I, too, went through the typical phases seen by Daniel: group euphoria, with our extended team posting about 100 messages per day, making all sorts of suggestions, followed by the “Let’s do it” phase, when people started mysteriously disappearing -but still wishing the project well- and finally the disillusion phase, when it became obvious to me that I was left all alone to steer the boat.
Do not get me wrong: Gentoo-the Distro, following Daniel’s impulse, has
evolved into a great product and, more importantly, a product with a great
community. But Gentoo-the-Foundation is another story. If I remember
correctly, Daniel left the Foundation shortly after starting it, thinking that
13 people could do the same work as one single leader. And, in my opinion,
this is where he inadvertently - and ironically - created the whole
problem that’s plaguing the Foundation today. An Open-Source body, without
strong leadership, can only wither and die.
I believe that the current situation could have been avoided by Daniel staying with the Foundation long enough to train its officers to make informed decisions through delegation and coaching.
One of the comments I read stated that management is not what makes Gentoo great. Maybe not, but lack of management is what will make it fail in the end.