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Re: Future code ownership

Hi all,

I would like to bring the issue in this thread to a conclusion without much further delay. However I agree with the sentiments that we should seek an official position from Red Hat to consider before we make an irrevocable step.

To that end I am CC'ing this to two people in Red Hat I believe should be able to inform us, and I hope they (or some more appropriate person) will be able to give us an idea of Red Hat's official position. Alas, I think I will have to put a two week limit on this (Sun Jan 26th) - if nothing is received in that time, we will have to reach a conclusion without Red Hat. That is more than enough time for Red Hat to discuss this internally.

To Tony and Mark: in summary, the issue is the continuation of copyright assignments to Red Hat which a significant number of contributors now object to, mostly due to Red Hat no longer having any significant role in eCos's development and therefore little interest in its success. Some people also feel aggrieved by Red Hat for reasons of their own. Some feel that, even given assurances, Red Hat can no longer be trusted. Whatever the reason (and we aren't responsible for those opinions!), it is something that needs to be addressed in the interests of the eCos open source community.

To that end, a number of options were presented as per and followed up to in subsequent messages. Although no conclusion has yet been reached, the two options being considered most appear to be dropping the requirement for copyright assignments completely, or assigning to a not-for-profit entity. In the latter case, SPI (Software in the Public Interest) who represent many other Open Source groups (even owning the Open Source brand) such as Debian Linux, GNOME, etc. have been approached and have stated their willingness to do so.

Also in the latter case, we see some possibility of permitting exemptions from the usual GPL licence obligations for large companies who are too dumb to embrace Free Software, but at a price. That price would be put exclusively towards the benefit of eCos, the Open Source project. Restrictions would be put in place to prevent maintainer's benefitting from decisions about how that money would be spent in which they took part.

It is this more than anything that we seek Red Hat's opinion of. Would they in principle be willing to work with the maintainers and SPI to arrange such licensing exemptions? Would they be willing to outline what the likely terms in principle would be? I should probably point out that if we cannot come to some mutual agreement then Red Hat will not be able to benefit at all. I should also add that this cannot be the subject of long negotiation. There is a 2.0 beta release coming up, with a 2.0 final soon after. We will not delay the releases to have this resolved, and will need to reach a decision with or without Red Hat.

If you wish, you may reply in private to me and I will gladly forward to all maintainers, although purely for transparency it would be preferred if this was in the open on the ecos-maintainers mailing list (which has public archives) if it is commercially possible. Alternatively, you can phone me, and I will act as intermediary as best I can, although the final decision will be collective. Contact phone number available if you e-mail me off list.

I should add for the absence of doubt to Tony and Mark, that this is purely in the context of an eCos maintainer, and nothing to do with eCosCentric or any other commercial organisation. In this discussion, we the maintainers (made up of people from eCosCentric, Mind, Ascom as well as Red Hat) are acting purely for the benefit of the open source project, even if this is contrary to our employer's preferences; as with other open source projects.

Thanks in advance,

// Nominal eCos chief maintainer
--[ "You can complain because roses have thorns, or you ]--
--[ can rejoice because thorns have roses." -Lincoln ]-- Opinions==mine

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