As a CentOS user, I find the recent news disturbing...

Date July 30, 2009

If you haven't heard, Lance Davis, administrator of the CentOS project is missing in action.

Reading that blog entry is disturbing on several levels. First, and most obvious, is that the single person responsible for the project has been missing.

Above and beyond that is the portrait painted by that blog entry is not one of a healthy open source project.

The first issue is that Lance basically is not actively involved in the project anymore. He attends meetings irregularly. If he was present and was asked certain things, he usually said that he need to look that up or he will do that later. But that never happened. And next to the meetings we do not see or hear from him at all.

That does not bode well. It gets worse, unfortunately

Lance is the only one who has access to the PayPal and Google AdSense accounts that are used on the CentOS websites. This basically means that all money that comes in through those channels went directly to him, not to the project. We again have no control over it.

I really wish that issues like this had come to light prior to his disappearance. It sounds like Lance needs to abdicate instead of abscond.

I'll be watching this carefully. It sounds like the day to day technical operations of CentOS have not been impacted, but the long term view sounds tenuous. I have no doubt that a binary compatible version of Red Hat Enterprise will continue to be available, but it sounds like the form may not always be CentOS.

8 Responses to “As a CentOS user, I find the recent news disturbing...”

  1. Dagard said:

    Yeah, I know. Ugly situation there. At least we still have Scientific Linux from Fermi Labs.

  2. Steve.Lippert said:

    Sounds a lot like what is happening with nagios.

  3. JeffHengesbach said:

    Ouch!. Hopefully this doesn't become another Whitebox Linux which has been stagnant for some time now. I'm a big CentOS fan/user.

  4. Ryan said:

    Well, not quite what happened with Nagios... That seems to be more that Ethan focused his time/energy on building his small business rather than expanding on the product. The overall lesson learned here though, is that you can have a cathedral or a bazaar... but you can't have a cathedralesque bazaar

  5. Matt Simmons said:

    @Dagard
    I hadn't put much attention on Scientific Linux, but I imagine that if CentOS falls apart, they're going to get a glut of new users and maintenance people. I wonder what their take on all of this is.

    @Jeff
    wow, I didn't even know about WhiteBox. That's sad. Maybe this will generate more interest from their maintainers?

    @Ryan
    You bring up a good point. Too much control over the project vested in one person leads to things like this. Hopefully CentOS will pull out of it.

  6. augmentedfourth said:

    Make sure to read the Open Letter to Lance Davis from CentOS devs on the centos.org homepage.

  7. Matt Simmons said:

    @augmentedfourth

    Oh, I did. It reads like Martin Luther's 95 Thesis. I can't fault them for anything except permitting this situation to exist as long as it has. Their arguments are just and sound.

  8. CentOS 6 – Great, but for how long? | Standalone Sysadmin said:

    [...] things, there have also been some wrinkles in CentOS. At one point in time, the leading team member went MIA. Granted, things eventually settled down, and to their credit, there hasn’t been any news of [...]

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