Koozali.org formerly Contribs.org

Foundation - the future of SME.....

Offline wellsi

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Foundation - the future of SME.....
« on: May 04, 2013, 08:36:52 PM »
You know I love to paraphrase :-)

Friends, Romans, countrymen, coders, integrators, lurkers, hackers, fiddlers and sysadmins, lend me your ears :-)

Sorry, but this is long. And I hope I won't have to do it again :-) However, a lot has happened, and we need to explain the story so far.

4 months ago SME was at a crossroads. We had a simple choice.

Integrate, or disintegrate.

Get our act together, or the last person to leave would have to turn off the lights.

As you are aware I have been trying to form the basis for the future of the distribution. For a variety of reasons which I will explain, this has been no simple task. I for one do not know all the answers for the future. My talents are limited. But there are plenty of people out there who have great ideas. My job is to find them, bring them together, and get the best out of them.

So, after a lot of work from a lot of extremely dedicated people, we believe we have in place the first brick(s) in the road to a new future.

A bit of background to start with. Following my original doc on the Future of SME it seemed to be agreed that we would pursue two immediate paths, one being to update SME to CentOS 6.x and the second to try and form a Not-for-Profit 'Inc' as the basis for a proper organisation on which foundation we could build a solid future.

As you probably know, v9 is progressing at a pace and we believe it is near Beta, which is a fantastic achievement in such a short time. It still needs a huge amount of work, and if you want to see it on your machines you HAVE to get involved in the process somehow. ANYONE can test. It just isn't that hard. So please jump in. Go find your own bug :-)

You can start here : http://wiki.contribs.org/SME_Server_9.0_Development

Regarding a formal organisation I decided that I would go out and contact various people to try and form a 'Board' for an Inc.

I wanted to try and get a good cross section of community members. Old, and new, programmers and business people, English and non native English speakers, geographically diverse.

You may be surprised at the list. A number of people you may possibly have expected to see here were contacted, but for various good reasons they were unable to join in. However I can assure you that they are fully behind us.

So welcome to the new 'Board' :

Main Officers :

President : John Crisp
Secretary : Tony Keane
Treasurer : Greg Zartman

Board members :

Daniel Berteaud
Stephane de Labrusse
Shad Lords
Hsing Foo Wang
Stefano Zamboni
Ian Wells



OK - at this point take a deep breath...... get a beer or a coffee, pull up a chair, relax...... If you have a copy of the Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy, grab your towel. The words 'Don't Panic' will shortly reveal their true importance....


One point that came up literally just a few days ago, (and I am sure it will overshadow all the nitty gritty) is the name.

After some research it would appear that legally we cannot easily use SME Server Inc. We need a name we can control exclusively, and can use globally. We could probably get around that, but then we would still have an issue with domain names, and that really is the clincher. sme domain names are all over the place and mainly out of our control.

Try www.smeserver.com to see what I mean....

That got us thinking and Greg suggested that maybe we do something completely different and look at another name entirely.

Originally I thought it might be better with a re-branding and launch of SME at say v10 (if we ever get that far) but, if it had to be now, then so be it, and maybe in some respects it is no bad thing. It is an opportunity to put the past behind, and move on.

Greg suggested some names and we liked the look of "Koozali"

As Greg said :

"Kuzaliwa is Welsh/Swahili for reborn or re-birth.  This name has a real ring to it and some very relevant meaning behind it. I checked and the following domain names are open:  koozali.com, koozali.net, and koozali.org are open domains."

So we decided on Koozali Foundation Inc

Rather than just changing the name completely it was felt that we should also try and retain the SME part of the current distro and it was felt that the distro itself should be called Koozali SME Server. We then have the option of say producing 'Koozali SME Server for Home' or 'Koozali SME Server for Business' (say with different contribs installed by default) or whatever else we fancy. Most importantly WE make those decisions.

We grasped the nettle and have registered the above domains, and a lot more, in case anyone else likes it - we don't want them squatted on. They will all be passed to the Foundation.

Domain name registration details are here :

http://wiki.contribs.org/Koozali_Foundation_Domains

From a branding point of view it is a good name as it has two 'low frequency' letter with K and Z which makes it more 'eyecatching'

There was some debate between Board members about whether to ask the community to debate the name, or take an executive decision and get on with it. Last time round the name was a stumbling block so we made the decision to get on with it and protect the name, and we have therefore registered a new Inc in the name of :

Koozali Foundation Inc

You can see that it is registered here :

http://egov.sos.state.or.us/br/pkg_web_name_srch_inq.show_detl?p_be_rsn=1637166&p_srce=BR_INQ&p_print=FALSE

The By Laws and Articles are here - a lot of this is couched in legalese :

Articles of Incorporation:
http://wiki.contribs.org/Koozali_Foundation_Articles_of_Incorporation

Bylaws:
http://wiki.contribs.org/Koozali_Foundation_By_Laws

Minutes from inaugural meeting:
http://wiki.contribs.org/Koozali_Foundation_Inaugural_Minutes

I will try and get these on the wiki soonest.

We decided to make the initial term for The Board as 18 months with annual elections thereafter - otherwise we would have only had 6 months before trying to run elections and we really need to concentrate on other things right now. If the community feels that there should be changes to any of these documents then please let us know and we will review them accordingly.

We have kept it simple for now and not worried about Constitutions, Mission Statements and such like. They can wait for another day.

Our suggestion would be to use the new name and domains as the new 'face' of SME with a new and trendier website, whilst maintaining contribs.org as the documentation resource and engine room of the system. We can move everything to the domain name in the fullness of time. Once we have a logo and branding we can look at the web site in detail.

We have some designers looking at new logos and we will post them as soon as we can. You can look at some of the design 'brief' that we are looking at here :

http://wiki.contribs.org/Koozali_Foundation_Design_Brief

Suggestions are welcome.

We have resurrected the Board mailing list and we have been using this as an easy communication channel between the Board members. We intend to keep this as a 'by invitation only' group for posting, but the archives for reading should be available in due course. We want things to be as open and transparent as possible.

We know that we have taken a while to get here, but it was important to get some things straight. We have worked really hard at reconciliation where we can, and tried to quell dissenting voices as much as possible, and will continue to do so. We need a united front from top to bottom. Now is not the time for arguments and trying to settle old scores. We need to be positive and work together. If you feel something needs changing, come up with a workable alternative. Don't just say 'no'.

We believe that you will like the name, or at least feel you can work with it. We also hope that the community is happy with the Inc.

Our next immediate target is to get v9 to at least Beta as soon as we can. We need to focus on that, and need all hands to the pumps. There is still a lot of work to do. If you haven't done anything, then do it now. Don't say you are too busy. We all have jobs too.......

In the meantime we intend to set up two main working groups (if we have volunteers then maybe we can break this down further) to look at the future of the distro from two points of view - code development and business development. We will post more details on this soon, and hope that more of the community will become involved. But bear in mind that we must not loose sight of v9 - if we all go and play with new toys and great ideas, the platform to mount them on will never be launched. So we need to be careful with our priorities.

The last point is cash. Let us be blunt about this. SME as it stands runs on a few generous donations which in no way cover the current running costs of the hardware. Shad funds a large chunk this out of his own pocket. The new domains, and company registration have been paid for personally by members of the Board. If we were a business we would have been bankrupt a long time ago.

This CANNOT continue. There has been too much 'take', and not enough 'give'. We have to change this. The only question will be 'how'.

I personally have heard people say that they are too busy with installs to have the time to pay back to SME. But I bet they get their invoices out to their clients on time.

If we raised USD 1 per server per year we would have USD 30,000 a year for servers and whatever else we want to do. USD 5 = USD 150,000

The maths is very easy. We have to make paying a little towards it easy as well. This is not a discussion for right now, but it will be one we have to have in the near future, and we have to start thinking of 'chipping in' a little money. Remember too that the Foundation is a charitable Not For Profit organisation. But it isn't a charity per se ! We cannot continue on thin air and good wishes. To thrive we need some hard cash.

In ending I can honestly say this has been one of the hardest and yet most rewarding times of my life. I have had moments of despair, and of elation. Some of the kind words that people have said have been wonderful, and I want to thank every single person involved in things to date. People have picked me up when I have been down, and for that I can't thank them enough. I have made some new friendships which I am sure will endure for the rest of my life.

It's been a fraught few months (my wife thinks I might actually have left home, or even the planet, as she has seen so little of me) for all concerned in this process. A lot of people have worked extremely hard 24/7 to make all this happen.

The members of the Board have been quite simply phenomenal, and both a privilege and a pleasure to work with. They are consummate committed professionals in every sense. We have had our differences, and undoubtedly will continue to do so ! But there is a spirit of camaraderie and compromise, and always with the future of the distro at the core of all the debates and decisions. The future of Koozali SME Server will be safe in their hands.

I know that there is a lot to take in, and I am sure there will be many questions, but I trust that the community will feel that we have done the right thing, and support the new Koozali Foundation wholeheartedly.

Right, enough of me. It's over to you guys now.....

B. Rgds
John

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