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[board-discuss] Board of Directors Meeting 2020-05-22


The Document Foundation
Board of Directors Meeting 2020-05-22
Meeting Minutes

Date: 2020-05-22
Location: Jitsi

Session chair: Lothar Becker
Keeper of the minutes: Stephan Ficht

In the meeting: Lothar Becker (Chair), Franklin Weng (Deputy Chair),
Michael Meeks (BoD), Thorsten Behrens (BoD), Cor Nouws (BoD),
Emiliano Vavassori (BoD), Daniel Armando Rodriguez (BoD), Nicolas
Christener (Deputy), Paolo Vecchi (Deputy), Stephan Ficht, Heiko
Tietze, Uwe Altmann, Miklos Vajna, Jan Holesovsky, Shinji Enoki,
Sophie Gautier, Florian Effenberger, Marco Marinello, Andras Timar,
Guilhem Moulin, William Gathoye, Gülsah Köse, Aron Budea, Muhammet
Kara, Dennis Roczek, Simon Phipps

Representation: None
(See https://listarchives.documentfoundation.org/www/board-discuss/ subject
"Representation statements")

Chairman of the Board is in the meeting. One of the Chairman or Deputy Chairman is required to be present or represented for having a quorate call.

The Board of Directors at time of the call consists of 7 seat holders
without deputies. In order to be quorate, the call needs to have 1/2 of the Board of Directors members, which gives 4. A total of 7 Board of Directors members are attending the call.

The board waives all formal statutory requirements, or requirements in the foundations articles, or other requirements regarding form and invitation, time limits, and for the topics discussed in this meeting.

The meeting is quorate and invitation happened in time. From now on, motions can be passed with the agreement of a simple majority of those remaining present. The majority threshold is currently 4.

The meeting commences at 13:04 Berlin time.

Agenda:

Public Part

1. Q&A: Answering Questions from the community (All, max. 10 minutes)

Rationale: Provide an opportunity for the community to ask questions to the new board and about TDF.

* Q&A/statement on business entity currently in third round (Lothar)
  * hope to finish over the weekend, then bring it out
* no further questions

2. Inform/Discuss: Ecosystem & Sustainability (Michael & Thorsten, All 15min)

+ Board wants to be more transparent about decisions
    + that is good, but we need to publish more data.
    + please listen, absorb - everything we say will be
      in the minutes or published later:
    + questions / challenges possible at the end.

"The foundation promotes a *sustainable*, independent and meritocratic
  community for the international *development* of free and open source
  software based on open standards."

LibreOffice has included companies into the ecosystem from the beginning
   + the word 'community' includes people working at companies
   + inspire a higher loyalty to the project & the idea: unifying.
   + economics seems harsh
    + value volunteers time & support of course.
    + need to model & understand these things - Eco-system

+ Started:
     + Sun -> ~50 developers -> we were eager to include them
     + IBM -> ~10 developers -> tried to get them to work together with us
            + big happy family...
     + Oracle -> OpenOffice not a contributor to net margin -> gone.
     + IBM -> encouraged us to form, didn't join -> differentiation.
     + we all lost hard.

        + Then: Linux Distros
+ SUSE - 15 developers, RedHat -> 5 developers, Canonical - 1 developer
            + Munich? -> peaked at 7 - now down to ~1
            + The flourishing years 2012-~2014
                    + KACST ~5, CloudOn ~2, Igalia ~1.5, Lanedo ~2,
                      Ericsson ~2, Synerzip -> ~12,
                      MultiCoreWare -> ~15 (2 months)
                    + all of these disappeared: no economic driver.

     + More recently (Thorsten)
              + SUSE - 15 -> 0 devs. -> 2013
              + Canonical from 1 to 0 devs. -> 2017
              + RedHat from 5 to ~2 developers - 2018
              + can't assume Linux Distros would magically do the coding

  + Now we are here:
       + 1&1 -> 1 developer
       + Munich -> 1 developer
       + TDF -> went from 1 to 2
       + RedHat -> ~2 developers
       + RedHat -> 2 developers
       + NISZ -> 3 developers
       + CIB -> 7 developers
       + Collabora -> 25 developers
       + and some more volunteers.

* The ecosystem is not growing, but not shrinking ~40 paid developers
        + very little virtuous cycle driving growth
          in sales -> feature / function

* What does the ecosystem do ? (Michael)
        + ~70% of commits from ecosystem companies
+ tend: larger features, longer term development, maintenance, GSOC ++ mentoring
        + ~30% of commits community
                -> but ~70%+ of mentoring is companies.
+ look at how a project looks like with volunteers but no commercial ecosytem:
                + Apache OpenOffice -> good people ...

* What does it look like in money ? (Thorsten)
        + easy to work out from our annual report
        + estimations ->
+ avg. TDF staff member FTE cost order of Eur 50k without overheads
                + So 40 people at TDF would cost ~Eur 2 million
        + TDF spends ~Eur 150k on feature development / tenders
          outside of fixed-costs per annum currently
                + do it in-house:
                + we could pay 3 people with that

* The ecosystem provides a 10x multiplying factor for development

        => TDF is the tip of the iceberg that is the ecosystem.
        => We cannot meet our purpose or sustain the product
           without a healthy ecosystem.

* Compromises to drive the ecosystem / pull money into it & TDF: (Michael)
- no LTS
- short, frequent release cycles
        + neither of these seem to deter mass use in business.
- nag dialogs, info bar stuff -> to drive TDF donations
        + community members unhappy ... -> professional product.
- tell people software is un-supported when inappropriately using Online
- important for TDF to have users visiting download page, also for
  downloading security updates for LibreOffice
        + live updates provided by community as a patch / feature.
          + not enabled.
        + we know: when we don't update the "new version" XML
          + donations drop substantially
          + TDF is funded by people visiting the download page

        => Example -> providing free LibreOffice in an app-store
                + self-updating, no need to visit TDF ...
                + sounds wonderful - but potentially deeply
                  problematic for TDF & sustainability.
                + needs to be looked at -very- carefully.

Thorsten
- People sometimes confuse paying for a product, when donating (c.f. feedback we see on Ask and Bugzilla)
        + normal feedback "I paid, but can't download"
- TDF download donations sometimes believed to drive feature development
        + implement feature with money.
* Desktop is quite different:
- Online - currently scarcity: source code, only development binary dockers of online
- CIB & C'bra charging for LibreOffice in app-stores & re-investing
- perhaps others.

* The "non-contributor" problem
     + Developers:
+ Munich -> initially didn't contribute to the code -> then saw the light & joined us
     + Linagora -> no significant contributions from whole French Gov't.
     + Brazil -> 1 million users -> no paid developers until recently.
     + others: RedHat/Collabora/CIB - contribute all their code back.
          + work as members of the community.

Conclusions (Michael)
        + why is ecosystem success seen as failure ?
        + why is the ecosystem 'othered' as non-community ?

        "The foundation promotes a *sustainable*, independent and
         meritocratic community for the international *development* of
         free and open source software based on open standards."

* "The only constant is change" (Thorsten)
        Change is inevitable, and necessary -but- those who
        advocate for change without careful consideration of the
        consequences must bear responsibility.

        Need to assess, and balance - with the other compromises listed

        if parameters change substantially, we need a plan to
        substitute for what we're certainly loosing then in terms of
        ecosystem contribution.

        Lets not loose again after loosing Sun, IBM, Linux Distros ...

* Uwe:
       Revenue: is 90% of your revenue from the app-stores?
           + ~5% of revenue from app-stores (Michael-as-Collabora)
           + insubstantial revenue currently from app-stores (Thorsten)
       Breakdown of revenue? (Michael-as-Collabora)
           + consultancy is a smaller part of revenue
+ product is a large part; can see sectors Education/Government/Business ...
       Changing the overall setup -> needs a plan (Thorsten)

Do we know that downloads leads directly to donations? (Heiko)
      + there is a graphic showing the correlation (Florian)
           + lets get it from Italo.
      + updater XML was not updated -> massive drop in donations (Florian)
+ S/W did not show the notifiation - a significant drop; July 2017/2018
      + hard to imagine that no linux user ever donates (Heiko)
+ not what is said - but the *majority* of donation driven by visits to download page
           + popup of course also drives people to donate (Michael)

abstract (AI):
+ overall number of developers shrinking
+ need money in the ecosystem to pay staff in TDF and elsewhere
+ address the "non-contributor" problem
+ the direct relation downloads/donations
AI: Italo: provide graphics downloads/donations
AI: define procedure to bring in the information

Rationale: Discussion, relevance and dependencies for TDF

3. Discuss: Quick check of fitting prerequisites and procedure of the vote for the next agenda item (Lothar, Board members, All 5 minutes)

Rationale: Clarifying about voting of the next agenda item
     + Now is not the time for a vote - so no need.

4. Discussing about proposal of Paolo: (Paolo, Board members 15 minutes)

    + Interesting discussion of ecosystem, linked to all of these things.
+ everyone knows there is a need for a commerical ecosystem out there + naturally balance the needs of commercial ecosystem with drive & spirit of TDF
         + in the statues - can read about commercial partners
+ scope / objective - make all software we develop Android,Windows,MacOS easily usable by users
              + development has to be user centered
         + LibreOffice Online
+ takes a good deal of effort to provide a FLOSS package that TDF is obliged to deliver
              + today have Marco, been working with him in another project
              + making it available for a school - with no budget for this
+ TDF in theory is obliged to make free software available to all to be used + have to increase the user-base of this platform, and increase committers.
        + personally - told - feeling at the moment by some developers
+ would like to contribute, but wondering, contributing to TDF / Collabora
             + a mixed-message coming out there.
+ clarify what is LibreOffice Online - and who is maintaining it
             + when someone contributes where that contribution will go
        + at the same time - have to tell everyone (Paolo)
+ use it for personal use, non-profit org, school - duty to give it for free:
                 + always been part of the plan.
                 + a bit late in implementing.
+ have to support those who have been contributing to the project
                      + Collabora, CIB
+ recognize their efforts though marketing & advertising
                      + not to use in enterprises without support.
                 + make it available to everybody, make it easy to use.
+ recognize - something much better from a technical & ethical POV
                     + than other platforms out there.
                 + some other organizations
+ LibreOffice Online is integrated - decided to start promoting other
                        types of similar platforms.
                     + as easy as possible to promote LibreOffice Online
                + will need professional support.
                + going out with a TDF branded LibreOffice
+ we are here for the community / duty to give the free version + look at our long list of commercial partners & developers.
                    + even increasing opportunities of revenue.
+ are limited - personally by commercial offering has been put together + Michael & Thorsten - can confirm - long discussion before became part of BoD - so that we can together re-tune the offering, getting revenue
                          to contribute to the project.
+ have to increase the number of companies that contribute to this project.
                   + spirit of proposition
                       + agreed to have it discussed.

* Fundamentally difference Desktop / Online (Thorsten)
     + hard for end-users to install Online too.
+ it is worth reflecting on this - lets have a plan, a careful assessment & compromise + a discussion to be had - TDF helping the commercial ecosystem (Paolo)
        + with an increased number of users.
        + Univention makes it easy - for non-techies to use LOOL
        + still need technical expertise.
        + thinks TDF would need to host it themselves (Thorsten)
            + for the world out there _that_ is the easy way to use it
            + but believe that is out of scope for TDF
            + challenges that we are required to do that
            + if we are to make it easily digestible - provide binaries?

* Keen to get LibreOffice Online into lots of people's hands (Simon)
     + tried to use it himself.
     + as it is designed & architected - hard for individual user to deploy
     + even given a working docker container
         + handling of certificates
         + hosting in containers
         + is beyond the skills of many, many people.
    + an alternative proposal:
        + without inadvertently harming the businesses in the ecosystem
        + start - by making available a version for Raspberry Pi
        + making one that is designed to use with Nextcloud's RPI distro
        + also have an appliance that they sell here
        + work with Rene & Raspberry-Pi ecosystem
        + that works on your internal network - with just IP addresses
        + no nasty signing certificates
        + not intended for internet use
+ but would work within a household, small business, and/or inside a school.
    + do this as an on-ramp
        + and avoid accidentally destroying Collabora / CIB
    + paper about this in the members area on TDF nextcloud
+ take this forward instead of this unfortunately poorly thought out proposal.

* Remark as an aside (Uwe)
+ Paolo's pronunciation is as bad as his - can't understand what was said
    + suggests Paolo to have something written down to prepare it.
    + a request from Simon as well (Lothar)

* Look forward to written ideas (Cor)
    + with background & discussions, like Simon's suggestion here
    + know lots of people enthusiastic there.

* asked for community to speak up (Michael)
  * unhelpful of referring to ecosystem as "other" people
  * clear ask to solve the marketing problems, was skipped
* build consensus before bring a vote to avoid dividing community unnecessarily
  * LOOL already in Nextcloud, ownCloud etc.
  * some of these versions don't refer to LibreOffice, are white-labelled
* we might need to get used to LibreOffice Online not to be called LibreOffice Online
  * avoid TDF duplicating work done by ecosystem members
  * marketing could be significantly improved
  * looking at things in a balanced way, voting right now is premature
  * not against TDF distributing LibreOffice Online
     * good thing to grab bull by horns & discuss it
* significant improvement in marketing required for TDF to provide LOOL binaries
  + would like a paper to bring these ideas together (Lothar)

* Clarify the situation (Paolo)
+ in the agenda just a few points of a ticket that has been opened in internal systems
   + with a longer description of the project
   + didn't just come out and say - lets vote for it.
   + when something not moving - indeed tends to push hard
      + so just go for a vote
      + then convert it into a conversation / discussion
      + many other people would like to provide their feedback.
      + so it may not be what it seems.
  + lots more can be known - including the economical side
      + not been told by commercial ecosystem
      + what is the damage that we cause you ?
          + if we go out with a branded version of LibreOffice Online
          + we don't know.
  + how to proceed further ? (Lothar)
+ would like to continue discussion about ecosystem on members list (Sophie)
     + give E-mails to the internal list
     + any reason not to do it on board-discuss in public ? (Thorsten)
          + propose to default to public if possible.
          + propose hint members to members list (Florian)
  + how do we get to this document ? (Lothar)
     + get a few efforts to do this concrete LibreOffice Online theme.
     + who are the people to lead & build consensus ? (Michael)
         + many of TDF's problems intersect.
         + next next decade manifesto would be my hope
             + circumstances have changed as we saw in the ecosystem talk
             + we actually need to deeply care about the ecosystem too.
+ clarify - Paolo - responsible for bringing a document for a vote (Lothar)
        + plenty written already
        + would like to do this with Paolo (Franklin)
            + have difficulty to build a LOOL instance recently
        + concern is how you say it (Cor)
+ prepare a 1st document that we build on to create something sustainable or a good base.
            + you mentioned the word 'vote'
               + no (Lothar)
+ result should be content for a later stage for voting (Lothar)
        + we need some written content which we can compromise on
        + if we have a discussion in public (Cor)
+ come up with the best proposal possible - discussion in public.
   + poor choice of committee (Michael)
       + sorry for being a poor choice (Franklin)
+ the ability to reach out to building a durable compromise is vital
        + not convinced this composition achieves this.
        + we have a concrete proposal from Simon (Thorsten)
           + build another proposal, while we work on Simon's ?
    + work on a procedure for documents (Lothar)
       + Franklin/Michael/Paolo/Thorsten
+ just did -> as of now, work in public with Simon's proposal (Thorsten)
           + get it into a proposal we can vote on.
           + happy to hear other proposals
       + today learned something about the Raspberry Pi (Paolo)
+ original issue was - to make available in general LibreOffice Online on general platforms
          + have another project running in the background.
       + Proposal (Florian)
          + everyone is free to come up with a proposal.
          + Thorsten/Michael/Simon came up with this one
          + something is done -> can share in public
          + what is proceeded in a board call
          + no problem with lots of proposals.
     + plea for people to work constructively with others (Michael, Paolo)
+ unhappy; process to vote first, then think is nearly un-precedented (Michael)

abstract (AI):
+ need for a balanced commercial ecosystem
+ software to be easily usable by any users regardless the OS used
+ easy to promote LibreOffice Online
+ Fundamentally difference Desktop vs. Online
+ need to increase users
+ solve marketing problems
+ consensus to avoid dividing community
+ discussion just started, to be continued in public
AI: define procedure to get written ideas/proposals
AI: agenda item for next BoD call, public part
AI: Franklin, Paolo, Thorsten, Michael to work on a proposal for discussion in public later on AI: in one of next BoD Call bring in as agenda item: How to get a "next next decade manifesto" (Lothar)

    + comment: minutes are late (Florian)
        + if you can look at them - would be helpful.

+ 27 people in the room - works more or less properly with Jitsi (Lothar)

Voting proposal via Mail from Paolo Vecchi at 16.05., 13.15 UTC+2: "...

Enable the infrastructure team to deliver the following packages with TDF
and LibreOffice branding:
- docker images
- ownCloud connector (from which we have already got confirmation of acceptance) for LOOL - once that is in place I will ask NextCloud for the opportunity to do the same
- Univention marketplace packages for LOOL
- all packages and connectors will be maintained and updated on a monthly basis unless urgent patches/bug fixes are required sooner
- the latest stable version of LOOL code will be used to build the images
- the infrastructure oversight team will ensure that all issues that may impede the execution of this plan are identified and solved promptly - the infrastructure oversight team should evaluate, and report back to the BoD, if TDF should use its own Gerrit server for LOOL or Collabora's see ticket https://bugs.documentfoundation.org/show_bug.cgi?id=132349 - LibreOffice branded documentation/help files should be created to make it as easy as possible to install docker images/Univention packages - TDF's LOOL packages will be free and supported only by the community. No paid/support options will be made available by TDF - In the download page it will be made clear that if LOOL is used in enterprise environment support options are available through the members of TDF's ecosystem

At a later stage eventual limitations in terms of concurrent users/documents will be discussed.
..."

Rationale: explanation of voting item(s), getting a valid voting result on Paolos proposal as described above

5. Discuss: Status of redmine tickets of the board (Thorsten, All 10min)

Rationale: Clarifying which tickets/list, what todos, who is caring, until when
 + just to make sure board knows where action items are
 + postponed to next call

Public part ends 14:02 Berlin time.

Private Part

- No topic in private so far -

Lothar Becker (Session chair)
Stephan Ficht (Keeper of the minutes)

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Tel: +49 30 5557992-50 | Mail: floeff@documentfoundation.org
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