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[Linux-aus] LA ctte meeting summary 2005/02/13
Keeping with the open discussion policy we're trying, here's the draft
summary of what was covered in the committee meeting last Sunday. It's
had a chance at being critiqued, but hasn't yet been confirmed as an
accurate record. I'm aiming to get these things in draft form to the
list as quickly as possible; feedback's always welcome.
Note that the "financial" notes that're redacted cover such things as
which accounts we're using for what; the actual interesting numbers on
how much money's being spent on what are in the treasurer's reports.
Anthony Towns <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Secretary, Linux Australia Inc
Linux Australia committee meeting notes
Jonathan Oxer, President (Chair)
Pia Smith, Vice-President
Anthony Towns, Secretary
Mark Tearle, Treasurer
The newly elected Linux Australia committee met in Sydney on Sunday
to discuss and plan the organisation's activities over the next
twelve months. The meeting came to order at 10am, and after
adjournments for morning tea (11:15am-12:00 midday) and lunch
(2:00pm-3:30pm), having completed the set agenda, concluded at 5pm.
The secretary would like to offer all assurances that the delayed
lunch had nothing to do with his laptop being on Brisbane time.
The following is a summary of issues discussed.
We established three key priorities for 2005/6 as an organisation:
to limit the number of issues we focus on to ensure we can actually
follow them through, to be transparent and ensure the community can
continue to have confidence in our actions, and they be visible to
ensure that the community is aware of the actions we're taking.
On the issue of followthrough, on Jon Oxer's recommendation, the
committee will be trialling the Flyspray task tracker over the next
few weeks. The committee has further authorised the office-holders
to take action on their own behalf on non-contentious issues, to
help speed up the committee's activities. Such actions will be
reviewed at the next committee meeting.
On the issue of transparency, we will be aiming to ensure that
minutes will be published as soon as possible following meetings,
and on the secretary's recommendation, will limit its formal decision
making to brief meetings conducted over IRC, that are strictly
limited to a set agenda. Further, we will aim to promptly publish
summaries of discussions held in person, online or over the phone
to ensure the community can follow and participate in the committee's
deliberations and activities.
On the issue of visibility, we will be moving much of the discussion
that previously has taken place on the closed committee mailing
list to the linux-aus list. We will aim to reserve the committee
list for committee coordination, such as the scheduling of meetings,
and issues that have a definite need for confidentiality. As a
consequence of this, most communication with the committee should
take place over the linux-aus mailing list. The committee hopes
this will also encourage broader participation in Linux Australia's
In order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our meetings,
we will be trialling the following arrangement:
weekly teleconference hook-ups on Tuesday evening to informally
review current issues and touch base
as needed formal meetings over IRC to make decisions and
review/ratify the actions of the office holders; usually
this will be held before our Tuesday teleconference, with
the agenda being finalised and posted on the Friday beforehand
up to four in-person meetings over the course of the year
to discuss and plan any strategic issues, such as significant
new projects that we should consider supporting
The committee's review of the effectiveness of the AGM concluded
that while the online AGM was effective at conducting the business
for which it was called, and appeared to be reasonably accessible
to members, it unfortunately took far too long. The committee's
belief was that this was mostly attributable to a lack of prior
planning as to how the meeting should be conducted, and it was
decided that the committee would continue IRC meetings, but would
establish and promulgate the rules of order for the meeting further
Linux.Conf.Au remains Linux Australia's first priority. Discussion
of the forthcoming conference in April established that the committee
was pleased and satisfied with the progress the Canberra team
continues to make.
A number of issues need to be dealt with in regard to the 2006
conference in Dunedin, New Zealand, however. The majority of these
were technical issues in regards to trans-Tasman banking, which are
dealt with in the committee-only financial section of this summary.
The remaining pertinent issues before the committee in regards to
LCA2006 are organising the "Ghosts of Conferences Past" weekend,
facilitating any publicity to be distributed at LCA2005, and providing
media training to the LCA2006 organisers.
Two general concerns were also discussed. The first, raised by Jeff
Waugh initially at the Annual General Meeting, and again on the
mailing lists, was the timing of the conference and whether it was
appropriate for it to vary the tradition of holding it in late
January that has been built up. The consensus of the committee was
that that tradition is valuable, but retaining flexibility and a
spirit of experimentation is also a highly valued tradition. The
timing of the conference will thus continue to be left up to the
organising team, however the committee will consider the conference
dates as part of future bids.
The second concern was one of oversight of the organising team.
Continuing members of the committee raised some concern that Linux
Australia and the Linux.Conf.Au team had not been seeing eye to
eye, or communicating clearly on a number of issues. While from the
committee's perspective, there have not been any consequent problems
arising from the organising teams' action; the committee believes
some more effective oversight is needed in order to ensure the
ongoing success of the conference. It was proposed that the previous
organisers that form the "Ghosts" be tasked as an "oversight
subcommittee", with the hope that having a common foundation as
conference organisers they would be able to communicate effectively
with the current organisers.
Open Source Forums
Pia Smith spoke briefly on the Open Source Forums she has been
organising, noting that the first forum, on Software Patents, had
been a great success with a higher than expected attendance. She
noted that there were three forthcoming forums, on Anti-Circumvention,
Linux on the Desktop, and Business Methods for Open Source. It is
hoped that tapes of these forums will be able to be made available
online in future.
These forums are generally sponsored, and thus cost Linux Australia
nothing to run; however the Linux on the Desktop forum is expected
to cost up to $300 for basic catering.
Linux Professional Institute Certification
The relationship between LPI and Linux Australia was reviewed. In
sum, Linux Australia is an LPI affiliate, and one of few organisations
in Australia that can hold paper exams. Our obligations are to remit
an annual fee to LPI, to provide the appropriate security for exams
and to promote LPI in Australia. The committee viewed its success
at the latter to be less than wholly satisfactory to this point.
In return, LA receives some income both from holding exams in its
own name as is done at Linux.Conf.Au, and an affiliate fee from
organisations who hold exams in Australia.
The grants process was discussed. The essence of the idea was that
we would split up to $2000 each month amongst worthy open source
projects. However only two grant applications have been successful;
one a small request made by Jeff Waugh to purchase some computer
equipment, and a request by Sara Kaan for support to setup a Linux
booth at an education conference. A loan request for ComputerBank
was also approved, but subsequently fell through. Other requests
such as payment for flights to attend or present at overseas open
source conferences failed to be approved. Approximately eight
requests have been made in total.
It was the committee's opinion that the grant process was worth
continuing. The committee decided that it was worthwhile to encourage
more applications, that applications need to be tracked better, and
that responses to applications need to be made more promptly. As
such, the committee determined that grant applications should
ordinarily go direct to the public linux-aus list for comments
rather than to the private committee list. It is further hoped the
task tracker will help requests be dealt with effectively, once set
Free Trade Agreement / IP Lobbying
At the Annual General Meeting, it was moved by the membership that
the committee should continue its involvement in this area, though
concern was noted that political lobbying can have implications on
non-profit organisations. The secretary and treasurer noted their
satisfaction that these concerns did not apply to Linux Australia,
due to its registration as a non-profit, rather than a charity. The
committee were thus satisfied that the organisation should continue
its involvement in this area.
Unfortunately Paul "Rusty" Russell was unable to attend the committee
meeting, so further analysis of what form that involvement would
take was deferred.
The committee felt that the media training provided to the Linux
Australia and Linux.Conf.Au folks in 2004 was helpful, and that it
should be repeated this year. It was expected that it would be most
cost effective to pay for ten people as a group, to be made up of
four people from LA and LCA2006, and six others from the community
who could benefit from a better understanding of how to talk to
The committee's view was that the state LUG contacts had not been
wholly successful over the past year. However no particular plans
were raised at improving the situation, mostly due to lack of time
and resources to commit to such plans. As such, states were assigned to
committee members, with a view to at least maintaining the standard
of representation/communiction, if not raising it.
The committee briefly discussed the Open Source Developers Conference
held by the Melbourne Perl Mongers / Perl Training Australia.
Jonathan Oxer will follow up with the OSDC organising committee on
Linux Australia's behalf to determine their plans for the next
conference, and whether any cooperation or assistance from Linux
Australia was desired or appropriate.
The prospect of accepting donations and managing funds on behalf
of other open source projects was raised, in particular for the
Debian and Samba projects. Linux Australia is currently holding a
small amount of funds on behalf of Debian (from t-shirt sales, and
a refund that was donated to Debian instead of accepted).
The general concept was that funds would be spent based on the
wishes of, eg, the Debian Project Leader or other authorised delegate
on that project's activities in Australia -- paying for hardware,
or sponsoring people to attend Debian events in Australia, or
sponsoring Australians to attend Debian events overseas.
The concern was raised that projects might not be aware of funds
held by Linux Australia. The issue of how expenditures would be
authorised was also raised, in particular how LA would know who was
authorised to make requests on behalf of a project. It was also
noted that if the project wound up, Linux Australia would need to
handle the money appropriately, and that this should probably be
dealt with up front. Also questioned was whether our bank might
have any conditions on accepting credit card payments on behalf of
It was noted that some small projects use donations received over
paypal to offset living expenses, and that use of funds of this
nature might conflict with LA's non-profit nature if not handled
appropriately. It was also noted that there might not be any point
going through LA in this case anyway -- if it ain't broke, don't
In spite of the concerns, the committee felt this was a worthwhile
project, and Mark Tearle and Anthony Towns will further investigate
its feasibility and report back to the committee.
The issue of whether there was space for a national "Linux User
Conference" in Australia, complementing the success of Linux.Conf.Au
and its focus on developers. A range of concepts were touched upon;
such as whether a road show, a tradeshow, or a collection of talks
and tutorials were more appropriate, and what compromise between
the community feel of a volunteer run conference, and the resources
of a vendor run conference was appropriate. Concerns noted included
that a user event would likely to be much larger than Linux.Conf.Au,
with a concomitant increase in expense, difficulty, and risk; and
that having an event that was too vendor-focussed might become too
much of a trade show and not be as valuable to Linux users or the
community as we would hope, or perhaps not even generate enough
interest to be worthwhile for vendors in any case.
It was clear that the committee itself does not have the time to
run such a conference itself, leaving three main prospects for
running such a conference: getting a wide group of vendors together
to run it to benefit themselves with some oversight by Linux
Australia, getting some people who'd really like to see a user
conference happen to run it with Linux Australia's organisational
support, or paying a professional conference organiser, presumably
with little to know Linux knowledge, to run it.
The general feeling of the committee was that there was a space for
a user conference of some sort, and that there were a number of
plausible ways of running it, but that we did not have a clear
enough idea of the target audience or aim of such an event.
The issue of cashflow was discussed.
Linux Australia's primary source of funds is the surplus revenue
of Linux.Conf.Au each year. At present the vast majority of these
funds are being maintained in an interest bearing cash management
account. Secondary sources of funds are interest and LPI affiliate
and exam fees.
Our expenses are only slightly more diverse. Cashflow issues from
Linux.Conf.Au (that is, money that needs to be spent before sponsorship
or registrations are finalised) are the primary use of funds, though
in the past year legal expenses relating to the Free Trade Agreement
and trademark issues have been noteworthy. Grants, "cost of doing
business" expenses, and one-off expenditures make up the remaining
The previously discussed projects indicated three potential sources
of additional funds: better promotion of LPI, a successful user
conference, and donations.
The committee's view was that Linux Australia's cashflow situation
was comfortable enough that no action beyond the previously mentioned
projects was needed.
Summary prepared by: Anthony Towns
This draft released on the 19th February, 2005.