Meeting of the GNOME Foundation Board of Directors, 13 April 2020, 14:30 UTC





  • Approve minutes of 23 and 30 March
  • WebKitGTK contracting
  • Pass responsibility for conference approvals to staff
  • Turn the release team into a committee


  • Approve minutes of 23 and 30 March
    • Not everyone has read them. Deferred until next meeting.
  • WebKitGTK contracting
    • Neil: We are approaching the release of GTK4. Part of the work that will need to be done to enable apps to use GTK4 is to port WebKitGTK, which is currently a GTK3 framework. Multiple companies were asked to bid.
    • Philip notes that he has a potential conflict of interest, due to his employment by Igalia who are a candidate to undertake the work. [Philip leaves the call.]
    • It is agreed that Philip should be excluded from this discussion.
    • Britt: What are the chances of this WebKitGTK work being done without a contract?
      • Neil: It would probably take a number of years for it to be done by the community. We want to move to a model where GTK releases regularly, and this would delay it.
    • Rob: Is the Foundation planning to use this large expenditure as a fundraising opportunity?
      • Neil: Yes, along the lines of making a match fundraiser.
    • Britt: Have you asked any other of the GTK stakeholders (Elementary) about helping pay for this kind of work?
      • Neil: I can talk to them.
      • Neil: Christian Hergert asked for this work to be done.
    • VOTE: approve the spend of USD 40,000 for the contract to port WebKitGTK to GTK4

      • +1 unanimous

[Philip rejoins the meeting]

  • Pass responsibility for conference approvals to staff
    • Allan: We'd like to broaden the definition of who can make the decisions for conference approvals, so it's not just the board, but the Foundation. A draft policy has been shared with the board members. The basic idea is moving the board away from doing operational stuff, and this is one of the operational matters that comes up most often. As members of the board, we will be able to stay updated.
    • Britt: The only real change is that we no longer vote to approve these events?
      • Neil: What used to happen is that the board ran the call for bids, reviewed the bids, and decided which one to accept. This change would mean the Foundation does all that, which can include the board, but doesn't have to.
      • Allan: The one thing we might still end up voting on is spending approval, if the budget for a conference exceeds Neil's spending powers. The board will still engage with events by voting on the budget and the Foundation's strategy.
    • Philip: I'm in favour of this because members of the board are not necessarily qualified to review bids.
      • Allan: These days we have a staff member helping local teams put bids together. It made more sense for the board to approve bids when that was not yet the case.
    • Britt: Does this need to be voted on?
      • Neil: There is a conference policy that the board voted on, so changing it in this way would also need to be voted on.
    • Neil: Can we replace "on" in the draft with "in public" or something similar?
      • Allan: OK. The idea was to mandate that it had to be announced in some high-traffic place.
    • VOTE: Pass responsibility for conference approvals to staff (draft shared with the board)

      • +1 unanimous
    • ACTION - Allan to update the wiki page.

  • Turning the release team into a committee
    • Allan: We've been talking about this for a while, but recently we also had one issue that we delegated to the release team, asking them to take the responsibility for a technical decision. Do we think it would be a good idea for the release team to be a general engineering committee?
    • Britt: I don't disagree with the idea of a committee that makes technical decisions, but it doesn't necessarily need to be the release team.
      • Allan: Why do you think they should be separate?
      • Britt: It seems to me the release team sets the schedule for the GNOME releases, which is not a power of the board to begin with, so we are not actually delegating anything to them.
      • Neil: The release team are exercising the power of authorizing the GNOME trademark, by determining what software is and isn't GNOME.
      • Britt: But wouldn't that be elevating all the rest of their responsibilities to the level of the board?
      • Rob: I understand the concern, but I think the responsibility of determining what is GNOME is an important legal responsibility of the Foundation, and I think it's the main activity of the release team; everything else follows from there. I'm not sure you can separate it.
      • Britt: It means that to join the release team, you now have to be voted in by the board. This could be seen as a power play.
      • Philip: I see it in the opposite way; the current situation is that someone who is unknown to the board or the Foundation can join the release team and receive the power to exercise the Foundation's trademarks. This seems like a mistake to me.
      • Rob: Furthermore, the release team appoints themselves.
      • Britt: Would the current release team approve of this?
      • Allan: I've talked to them and they're okay with it.
    • Federico: Answering the first question, a general engineering committee is a question of governance. I think this is something we should help the community work through.
      • Allan: I feel that we should say that the release team have jurisdiction over technical questions, because through the power of deciding what is and isn't GNOME, they effectively already do. We could rename them to the Engineering and Release Committee.
      • Britt: I am fine with this idea, but I would rather if we broaden the scope of the release team and have their name reflect it. They would become a sort of technical steering committee.
      • Philip: I agree with delegating technical responsibilities to the release team that they effectively already have, but creating an engineering committee or steering committee is a governance question, as Federico said. I don't think the board can take that step without discussing it with the community and making clear what problems a steering committee would solve.


FoundationBoard/Minutes/20200413 (last edited 2020-06-10 05:05:15 by PhilipChimento)