Hisham Muhammad, November 13th, 2003.
There is no formal organization at this point. The way things work now are derived from the historical evolution of the project. I came up with the original idea, which André and I first implemented. Guilherme joined soon thereafter. Lucas and Rafael followed.
The heart of the distribution is the Scripts package, for which I have been the gatekeeper for most of the time and will return to be soon.
Guilherme was the one who first put GoboLinux on a CD, and he takes care of that part to this day. I think he is the person who was most overloaded during my absence, and he did a wonderful job in keeping the ball running. Thanks again.
When Lucas came by, he asked "what can I do" and gladly accepted the kernel maintenance duties. Also, he and Felipe Damasio are the developers of GoboHide we all love. Ah, and he is the one you all vimsters have to thank for.
Rafael worked hard on the late source packages project (which was not in vain! I converted some of the scripts for inclusion in Compile and plan to convert more of them as time allows) and, with help from Lucas, was the first brave soul to attempt to compile GNOME for GoboLinux (that alone will guarantee his entrance to heaven, along with me and Stu Penrose). He is now temporarily retired from the project, dedicating himself to meditation and the search for his inner soul.
André, the other co-founder, is a funny case, because everytime people ask me this I never know how to describe what he does in the project. At times I feel he has evaporated, but at other times, such as right now, he is essential (and I mean it). I guess his greatest assets are his personality traits. They balance the group well. In the early days, he was the main package builder (in megabytes, while I was the main package builder in package count, packing inumerous silly programs found on Freshmeat every week :) ), taking care of important stuff such as KDE, XFree86 and Glibc.
These are the people who worked the most on the project, and the people I would list if I had to point out a "core team". I'll be honest here. The fact that all five of us are close friends (in real life, that is) and are or have been co-workers undeniably speeds up the process. There is hardly a way where outside contributors can interact with the development process as intimately. I see at least two or three of these guys every day in person. I hate to put people out of the loop, but sometimes it just happens that some decision is taken at a dinner table instead of in the mailing list.
Having said that, since the beginning, other people have helped in many ways.
Leandro Motta Barros, another friend of ours, started to work on a nice documentation project, which seems to be currently stalled (I can't blame him since some concepts in GoboLinux kept changing so fast during this year), and given the quality of what was produced so far, I'm happy to wait.
Dario Rodriguez was the first user from outside of Brazil, back in the pre-Slashdot days, and he was an invaluable source of bug reports and motivated us to write most of the documentation we currently have, because back then all GoboLinux knowledge was spread folklorically, by word of mouth. :)
Carlo Calica was the one who introduced us to runit, a major improvement in the distribution and contributed bug-fixes to the Scripts. Sarah Sholu started to write tools for interaction with Portage, during our brief affair with the Gentoo project, and also started an installer.
Many other people contributed compiled packages: Cadu Moreira, Antônio Souto, Todd Boland, Giusepe Casagrande, Stu Penrose... Here's the point where I'll start to forget names and make injustices, sorry... as they say in the "80s hard rock albums thank-you lists": you know who you are! You all rock!
First of all, help is always welcome!
Because of the structure (or lack of) that I described above, it was always hard for people to just join in the project and start contributing. One problem, just as an example: how to accept binaries from someone who appears out of nowhere and says "nice project! here are some compiled packages"? That would be unresponsible. I believe this problem is now, if not solved, much relieved by the advent of the Compile system I posted this week. Anyone can contribute recipes. I would find it great if people volunteered to maintain certain recipes, too. Package availability and maintenance is the #1 problem in any distribution. This is the part that needs the most manpower (or is it personpower? or the 90s are over and we can forget about being collitically correct again?)
The other way I see how people can contribute is by taking a task that is totally "unassigned" (ie, that nobody's working on) and that can be done relatively independently and working on that. Leandro did this taking the documentation thing. Time and again people ask for GUI configuration tools and stuff like that. Those would be welcome additions. [ Side note: But I'm not sure how much of a job of the distro maker that is. I think it is our job to integrate them if the tools are available. For example, if you want to improve GoboLinux by writing an X configuration tool to do stuff such as setting refresh rate, resolution, etc., why don't you make it a general, non-distro-specific tool? That would be more useful. ]
Another thing I have done now and then that help us is to contribute 'configure' scripts to the projects out there. Many times it doesn't even need to be a complex autoconf thing, sometimes a hand-written, single-screen shell script which merely sets one prefix variable in a Makefile is enough. A well behaved tarball is a GoboLinux source package. Making the world a more GoboLinux-friendly place is a Good Thing.
In my view, core stuff such as the Scripts, release management and such will work better if they stay in the hands of the "core team" I listed above, at least for the time being. I'd understand if someone is disappointed in hearing me say (err, reading me write) this, but I don't think it is unreasonable.
Every person involved in any level to this project has their own views about this. If you ask my opinion, I'll say I wish GoboLinux to grow and become significant, because I believe that would improve the Linux world as whole, if only for removing hardcoded paths from everything. My ultimate goal, "where I see GoboLinux in 5 years or whatever", is to have a great operating system, not just a "cool Linux distro". It's no secret that I admire Apple Computer (my first computer was an Apple ][) and I envy Mac OS X. They gave UNIX a well-deserved kick in the butt, and I think projects such as ours here is a step in the right direction.
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