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Presidents Report for the Gentoo Foundation Inc.. 2010 to 2011


1.  Summary

The Gentoo Foundation Inc. continues to be affected by the recession, just like other businesses.

Our 501c3 application has progressed more slowly than anyone would like but a little progress has been made.

We joined the Open Invention Network (OIN) during the the year, entering into a fee free patents cross licence group.

Following several requests from large Gentoo users outside of the IT business to give back to Gentoo, a members vote was held on accepting money for a side bar advertisement. There was an overwhelming majority in favour.

Gentoo lost a major sponsor following the takeover of GNi by Fusionstorm. This resulted in all the services hosted at GNi being moved to other systems at other (in some cases) new sponsors.

Our sponsorship by UltraDNS came up for review at the end of 2010. It was mutually decided that it would not be renewed and name serving was moved away from UltraDNS to an in house solution.

This is the first year in the History of the foundation when the membership will be reduced by removing members who have not indicated a continuing interest in the foundation.

2.  Effects of the Recession

Last year, the Foundation joined the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) who initially were both very responsive and helpful with our queries. When we passed them the partially completed Form 1023 (Application for 501c3 registration) and supporting paperwork, the responses slowed somewhat. The two events may not be cause and effect. The SFLC acts for Gentoo and all their clients on a pro-bono basis and are dependent on donations for funding just as we are. At the March 2011 meeting the trustees determined that We could not wait for the SFLC to progress our Form 1023. This work will now be funded.

The Gentoo Foundation Inc. is considering making a donation to the SFLC as we do make use of their services. Note any donation will not be a payment for any services now or in the future. The SFLC will continue to act on a pro-bono basis for all of their members and will use their funding as they see fit.

3.  501c3 Tax Status

The trustees have been working on our 501c3 application, which is now almost complete. Hand in hand with preparing that filing has been the search for a cost effective Certified Public Accountant (CPA). We will need help from a CPA to prepare annual returns when We are successful with our 501c3 application.

Following a front page advertisement on a number of offers of help were received.

Until the start of 2011, the SFLC were being very responsive in assisting but that has declined, such that the trustees have agreed to fund the completion of this work and are currently seeking tenders from CPAs

4.  Open Invention Network Licence

The Foundation joined the Open Invention Network as a licensee member. This ensures anything We do that uses patents from other licensees will not be a cause for royalty payments or litigation.

"The license is a reciprocal agreement: Under the terms of the licence, The Foundation also grants other licensees the same rights to any patents that it owns. At the time of writing, the Foundation does not own any patents.

5.  Side Bar Advertising

Following the Foundation members ballot on allowing large Gentoo users to have space on the side bar, the side bar has been changed to allow more advertisements and to allow advertisements to be weighted in their frequency of appearance.

Advertising on the side bar has been extended to major Gentoo users outside of the IT industry who prefer not to donate a sever and bandwidth in a datacentre for Gentoo to use. To accommodate more advertising and lower cost advertising slices, the side bar now supports randomised weighted advertising.

6.  Loss of a Major Sponsor

Following the takeover of GNi by Fusionstorm last summer, it became clear that sponsorship by the new owners was unlikely to continue at the level previously enjoyed by Gentoo. By Christmas all services except Miranda had been migrated away.

Gentoo was very lucky to find a number of smaller sponsors to host some of these services. Others were moved to the OSL and hosted on the Atom servers provisioned by the Gentoo Foundation last year.

The parting with Fusionstorm/GNi was amicable

7.  UltraDNS Sponsorship

Our sponsorship by UltraDNS came up for review at the end of 2010. It was perfectly clear that this would not be renewed on the same favourable terms that We had previously enjoyed so name serving was moved onto Gentoo hardware.

The parting with UltraDNS was amicable.

8.  Strengthening of Gentoo Foundation Inc.

So far, all of the officers of the Gentoo Foundation Inc. have become trustees, which leaves the Foundation somewhat weakened.

Where We used to have five trustees and two officers managing and performing the work of the Foundation, the five trustees now serve as officers too. This needs to be reversed. While trustees must be selected from the Foundation membership, officers can be anyone capable of discharging their duty.

9.  March 2011 Trustee Election Results

At the trustee elections in February 2011, Matthew Summers (quantumsummers) and Robin H. Johnson (robbat2) retired by rotation and Joshua Jackson (tsunam) announced his intention to retire both as a trustee and from the office of treasurer leaving three seats to be contested. Matthew picked up the role of Treasurer meanwhile.

The results of the poll closing on April 8 were:-

  1. robbat2
  2. quantumsummers
  3. rich0
  4. blueness

We are pleased to welcome robbat2 and quantumsummers back for a further two year term and welcome our new member rich0 to the Board of Trustees

10.  Membership Reduction

Under the draft bylaws, followed until late 2008, there was no way to remove members who had apparently lost interest in the Foundation. Indeed, members had to actively withdraw from membership.

When the bylaws we approved, the trustees determined that not voting in two successive trustee constituted loss of interest and would result in removal of membership. This has affected 49 members this year.

There was no election in 2010, so ballots cast in 2009 and 2011 will be used to reduce the membership from its present 229 members, to 180.

In turn, this will reduce the number of members required to forum a quorum at a members meeting. Currently, its impossible with so many members who have no interest in the affairs of the Foundation.

11.  Closing Remarks

Look Back Over The Year

Compared to other businesses, the Gentoo Foundation Inc. has had a reasonably good year. With three active years behind us, the Foundation has shown that its a reliable active body even if the team doing the work has shrunk. Both Gentoo and the Gentoo Foundation Inc. need to attract more members who are interested in the various facets of business administration to ensure the long term continuity of the Gentoo Foundation Inc. as an independent entity.

Looking to the Future

Going forward we must separate the Trustee and Officer roles again, both to spread the workload and remove the single point of failure We currently have by having the same individual in the role of Secretary and Treasurer.

Gentoo needs to reorganise along the lines of a conventional business structure. This is mainly so that external entities find the Foundation easier to relate to, deal with and therefore donate to. We will be considerably more attractive to USA tax paying donors when our form 1023 is filed and more attractive still when we look like a conventional corporation.

It is still far from clear that The Gentoo Foundation contains people with the required skills and the interest to operate a successful business on a volunteer basis, nor that the Foundation can grow big enough on the back of the Gentoo distribution to pay for the skills needed.

The alternative to operating our own legal entity is to join an umbrella organisation, which would cost us our financial autonomy.


Page updated April 3, 2011

Summary: Presidents Report for the Gentoo Foundation Inc.. 2010 to 2011


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