Yocto Project Advisory Board Meeting Minutes April 7, 2011, 9:00am – 12:00pm F2F, Linux Collaboration Summit
This was the first face-to-face (F2F) meeting of the Yocto Project Advisory Board, previously called the Steering Group. The focus for this meeting was on deciding the direction of the board and some details about it, and to discuss future meeting methods and best practices.
NOTE: These minutes are distilled from multiple people’s notes as well as conversations during and following the meeting. Please contact Jefro if anything in this message is incorrect or incomplete. These minutes will be posted to the Yocto Project wiki within one week.
Members & Alternates
- Sean Hudson (Dell)
- Dave Stewart (Intel)
- Tracey Erway (Intel)
- Mark Mitchell (Mentor)
- Dan Cauchy (MontaVista)
- Joe Green (MontaVista)
- Mark Orvek (MontaVista)
- Philip Balister (OpenEmbedded eV)
- Steve Sakoman (Sakoman Inc.)
- Jason Kridner (Texas Instruments)
- Bill Mills (Texas Instruments)
- Atul Bansal (Timesys)
- Paul Anderson (Wind River)
- Nithya Ruff (Wind River)
- Lieu Ta (Wind River)
- Jeff “Jefro” Osier-Mixon (Intel), Community Manager: facilitation
- Richard Purdie (Linux Foundation) Chief Architect: representing Maintainers
- Dirk Hohndel (Intel), “godfather”
- Group chair
- Group Charter
- Governance within the group
- Interest groups
- BSPs and Contributions
- Release numbers
- Future meetings
Members present introduced themselves to each other
Jefro functioned as facilitator in the meeting. The group decided later in the meeting that Jefro would continue in this role until otherwise decided, rather than choosing a chairperson from the voting members.
The Advisory Board is made up of organizations who have pledged public support for the Yocto Project, and have agreed to contribute resources to the effort. There is no fee for participation this year, though that is subject to change by the Linux Foundation. Member organizations are expected to attend Advisory Board meetings in order to better align their efforts with those of the Project.
The AB’s self-described charter is to advise the project’s architect and maintainers on overall project direction in order to (1) help embedded Linux thrive as a technology, (2) reduce fragmentation in our industry, and (3) encourage participation among other organizations. Members can share and resolve pain points as well as formulate wish lists for the direction of the project. The group also functions as a forum for the project Architect and Maintainers to request resources from member organizations as necessary.
Voting on initiatives is done by the named member from each organization; a list of named individuals on the AB is posted on yoctoproject.org. Named members may provide alternates from their organizations if they are unable to attend, though it is highly encouraged for both the regular member and the alternate to attend all meetings in order to preserve state. The intent is for Advisory Board meetings to be open to the public for viewing, although commentary and active participation is necessarily limited to participating member organizations.
The AB decided to rename itself from Steering Group to Advisory Board, after some discussion as to whether organizations would need to resubmit signed statements of intent. Steering Group implies that the group has direct influence (“steers”) over the project. However, as an open source project, the Yocto Project maintainers are responsible for all technical decisions. Mark Mitchell described this as “less about directing, but more about influencing.” The AB is a communication link between member organizations and the maintainers. The AB also provides supporting roles in terms of administration, public communications, advocacy, and other required business roles, either as administrative sub-groups underneath the AB or through direct communication with the Linux Foundation.
The AB is also responsible for determining and delivering messaging themes to the greater Linux community, by way of an Advocacy and Outreach administrative group. Tracey, Nithya, and Lieu agreed to form this group.
The Advisory Board is self-governing and inclusive. Voting, for this meeting at least, was accomplished by one member asking for opinions and others indicating approval or presenting issues that were discussed until all agreed. Future votes may involve a show of hands, but the facilitator observed a high degree of camaraderie among those present. The group discussed how many members would be required in order to form a quorum. It was discussed (though not formally decided) that 2/3 of member organizations were required to be present for a binding vote. No problems are expected since all future meetings would provide phone support. There are currently 9 organizations represented on the AB.
At least one representative from each member organization must be present at each meeting. If a member organization does not appear for several meetings, the AB may vote to eliminate their position.
The AB discussed Interest Groups as well as Administrative Groups. Interest Groups champion technical causes, while Administrative Groups are formed from within the AB to provide resources to keep the project running. The AB also agreed to occasionally form sub-groups to research important topics as needed; these groups would then report back into the AB.
Interest Groups are intended to naturally form around specific issues in the project. Any interested party can form an interest group, with vetting based on sanity and performed by the Community Manager. Interest Groups are expected be self-organizing from the Yocto Project community, as opposed to being ordained by the AB, though they may be requested by the Maintainers to form around specific issues. Interest Groups are provided with a mailing list and a web page, and can bring issues and recommendations to the AB, who will discuss them and pass them on to the Maintainers as directional advice. Paul suggested that interest groups are like a BoF, where interested parties gather. Each Interest Group should have a “champion” who maintains the mailing list and any documentation, and represents the group to the Maintainers.
If an Interest Group is abandoned (no activity for a period of time), it may be deprecated to a separate page on the site, although its archives should remain in place for future Interest Groups to reference.
Even though the AB has no control over Interest Groups, that does not prevent them from being formed by AB members. Jason Kridner proposed a BSP interest group, with several others voicing support.
BSPs and Contributions
Member organizations provide resources, and right now one of the most important resources is platform support in the form of BSPs and other code contributions around hardware enablement. Following the meeting, there were many conversations among Maintainers and member representatives from Texas Instruments, Mentor, Wind River, and Dell, as well as active participation from the OpenEmbedded board and technical steering committee members.
One item of importance was presented: “Don’t promote active forks”, indicating a desire to encourage cooperation and coordination. Listening and responding is a very positive thing, along with active transparency, and these can prevent others from forking the Yocto Project or maintaining large patch repositories. This doesn’t prevent others from improving on the project, or support organizations from providing their “secret sauce”, but it is a stated goal that the Yocto Project will become a well-accepted upstream project for organizations rather than a “closed castle” in which users have no say. Transparency, inclusion, and meritocracy are all open source tenets that are central to the project.
Financial contributions are also important to track transparently. Those organizations who have already provided funds and resources have promised to also provide some transparency about those contributions.
The Yocto Project releases on an approximately 6-month cadence. There was some discussion as to whether to name the releases according to the calendar cadence (e.g. 2011.11) or by major/minor release numbers (e.g. 1.1). Project members had previously suggested switching to the calendar numbering in order to promote the cadence and set expectations for the community. Dirk suggested that the AB remain leery of cadence numbering, as it promotes a sense of meeting a release date rather than focusing on features and quality.
The AB agreed to advise the Maintainers to base all releases on features and quality rather than on meeting a specific date, even if slipping the release meant missing an event. (This is important to state, as releases currently happen in October and April, coinciding with ELC North America and ELC Europe, respectively.) The AB also advised the Maintainers to stick to a major/minor release numbering scheme, but to stick to the 6-month cadence as much as possible. A 2-3 month window around April and October was suggested by members who might base products on the Yocto Project and would thus need a reliable upstream release schedule.
Build servers for the project are physically located at the Oregon State University Open Source Lab (OSU-OSL) with a system administrator resource based at Intel’s Hillsboro campus. Beth Flanagan is the build master and release engineer.
It was noted that the website information is owned by the Linux Foundation. Jefro is the current webmaster, with a resource from Intel functioning as the back-end maintainer.
Future Meetings and Events
Meetings occur on a monthly cadence via telephone bridge provided by one of the members. Face-to-face meetings occur whenever possible, at least quarterly. At future F2F meetings, a phone bridge will be provided for those members who can not attend in person. This requires F2F meetings to be held at a facility that can provide a conference phone, or for some other method to be devised. There was also some discussion around providing a live video feed and/or an IRC channel for feedback. Jefro has the action item to follow up.
The group decided to try to meet F2F at some time around ESC Silicon Valley at the end of April or beginning of May, with phone support for those not present. Meetings will be near the end of each month, with F2F meetings to be scheduled around popular Linux Foundation events such as Collaboration Summit/ELC (April - Q1), LinuxCon North America (August - Q2), and LinuxCon Europe (October - Q3). Note: there are no Linux Foundation conferences scheduled for Q1 2012.
There were three other governance meetings scheduled for Collab/ELC 2011:
- Friday afternoon Yocto Project 1.1 planning session
- Monday Advisory Board lunch (not an official meeting)
- Tuesday lunch Yocto Project 1.1 planning session
Member organizations were encouraged to attend the lunchtime discussion, and to send technical representatives to one or both of the 1.1 planning sessions.
[adding results since these minutes were prepared after the above meetings were held]
- The Friday session was very active and involved members from several companies. Results were incorporated into the Yocto_1.1_Features wiki page
- The Monday lunch was an active discussion about messaging and positioning with members from several companies. Jefro did not take notes, but if anyone did, please send them in or post them to the AB mailing list when it is created next week.
- The Tuesday lunch was not well attended, and turned more into a technical discussion among Yocto Project and OE members.
Decisions and Action Items
Action items are due by the next meeting unless otherwise specified.
- Create mailing lists and infrastructure for AB, interest groups, and administrative groups [Jefro]
- Investigate methods for providing phone & IRC support at F2F meetings [Jefro]
- Coordinate a F2F meeting around ESC-SV with phone support [Jefro]
- Post minutes and results publicly on yoctoproject.org [Jefro]
- Rename Steering Group to Advisory Board in all public places [Jefro]
- Revise website materials to reflect AB decisions [Jefro]
- Provide transparency on past and present contributions, future plans [All]
- Form an Advocacy and Outreach/Communications administrative group [Tracey, Nithya, Lieu]
- Form an infrastructure administrative group [Dave, Sean]
- Form a BSP interest group [Jason]
- Advise Maintainers to stick to major/minor release numbering, and to drive to quality & features within a 2-3 month window [done]
Agenda items for next meeting
This is a preliminary agenda only. Please send any agenda items to Jefro before the next meeting.
- Status on prior action items
- Recap from Collab Summit & ELC events
- Yocto Project community metrics
- Feedback on governance & charter discussions described above
- Yocto Project 1.1 planning results & schedule
- Planning for future events
- Is 1 hour long enough for meetings?