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Pascal Bleser Incident in OpenSUSE Project Shows Community Problems

Posted in Intellectual Monopoly, Novell, OpenSUSE at 1:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sock on head

Summary: Some cryptic development within the OpenSUSE community shows continued unrest and Pascal Bleser is out of the board

THE OPENSUSE community is in a bit of a state of disarray. Amid Novell’s plan to be sold to AttachMSFT (not finalised yet and there are objections), members of OpenSUSE are uncertain about commitments, as we explained the other day.

OpenSUSE’s fairly new community manager, Jos Poortvliet [1, 2], came at the time that some key people were leaving. He says that the community wants an OpenSUSE foundation.

The openSUSE Linux version is going to a foundation because users demanded it, says Novell’s community manager Jos Poortvliet

But here comes the interesting part from the press around that area:

The openSUSE Board elections process, which began in December last year, has now moved into the election phase and the final results will announced on January 26, 2010.

The board has 2 seats open for this election as Pascal Bleser and Henne Vogelsang terms are expiring.

Pascal is a longtime prominent member and he is quite vocal. He now explains why he is “not running for the openSUSE Board”:

The reason is simple: I have been elected on the two previous Board instances, and have also been part of the initial “bootstrap Board” (as I like to call it) where there were no elections (chicken/egg) and where our primary mission was to set up an election process.

This claim is conflicted somewhat by this one from Susan:

Today Pascal Bleser, openSUSE packager and Board member, posted a message to the openSUSE Project mailing list announcing the decision of the openSUSE Board to “revoke an individual’s membership as well as his access to the openSUSE infrastructure.” The only explanation given was that this member had repeatedly violated the Guiding Principals and rejected any attempts for intervention. The message was so cryptic and secretive that it actually provoked more questions than it originally had intended to answer.

That sounds rather different, does it not? There is even a reference to Pascal (not by name) in this message which got pinned at LWN:

As you probably all know by now, the openSUSE Board recently revoked an individual’s membership as well as his access to the openSUSE infrastructure.

Pascal’s absence is rather striking because he used to win the elections very easily. The candidates now are:

* Chuck “PUP” Payne, ambassador from the US (blog) Platform
* sebas, open-slx user experience expert (blog) Platform
* Kostas Koudaras, ambassador from greece (blog) Platform
* Peter Linnell aka mrdocs, OSS It consultant Platform
* Henne Vogelsang, Booster, currently Board Member, Novell (blog) Platform
* Sankar P, Programmer, Hacker, FOSS Enthusiast, Novell (blog) Platform
* Nelson Marques, Contributor (blog) Platform

In other news about the project (there is not much [1, 2, 3]), members still insist on getting more power as the project is dominated by Novell.

The ballots are open and now the power is in the hands of people of openSUSE to decide whom they want to have on the board for the next year. The openSUSE community is a true democratic community so the elections procedure for it, is a celebration of ideas. All the candidates have proved our love for what we do and we are all devoted to the openSUSE project and its community.

For Novell, one of the first steps towards assuring that the community has some control is to review the trademark guidelines or simply annual them.

In 2009, a set of trademark guidelines were created to help define how the community and beyond could use the openSUSE logo and related trademarks in their own products and services. Along with this, Novell granted powers to the openSUSE Board to be the guardians of the openSUSE trademarks. This included ensuring that proper usage followed the guidelines as well as giving the Board the ability to review special use cases

This seems like an improvement, but the OpenSUSE Board still has Novell employees in it. Does anybody know what Pascal did to get treated as he is alleged to have been treated?

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