[openstack-dev] [all][tc] How to deal with confusion around "hosted projects"

Thierry Carrez thierry at openstack.org
Wed Jun 28 14:50:01 UTC 2017

Hi everyone,

Two weeks ago, as a result of a discussion at the Board+TC+UC workgroup
working on "better communicating what is openstack", I started a
thread[1] about moving away from big tent terminology. The thread went
in a lot of directions, including discussing GitHub mirroring strategy,
what makes projects want to be official, the need for returning to a
past when everything was (supposedly) simpler, and naming fun.

[1] http://lists.openstack.org/pipermail/openstack-dev/2017-June/118368.html

Many agreed that the "Big Tent" name (as a synonym to "official
openstack projects") is hurting more than it helps, and we should stop
using it. The issue is, merely stopping using it won't be enough. We
have tried, and the name sticks. You need to replace the name by
something that sticks more, or address the root cause directly.

The central issue being discussed here is an issue of external
perception. It's hard for newcomers to the OpenStack world to see what
is a part of OpenStack and what's not. If you google "openstack machine
learning", the first hits are Cognitive and Meteos, and it's impossible
to tell that those are actually not OpenStack projects. One of those has
been dead for 2 years -- having people think that those are official
projects hurts all the OpenStack projects, by lowering expectations
around what that means, in terms of quality, maintenance, or community.

The confusion mainly stems from the fact that OpenStack project
infrastructure is open to any open source project (and it's nobody's job
to clean up dead things). So you can find (on our wiki, on our
mailing-list, on our cgit farm, on our gerrit, on our GitHub
organization...) things that are actually not OpenStack, even with the
expansive "are you one of us" definition. Arguably the most confusing
aspect is the "openstack/" prefix in the git repository name, which
indicates some kind of brand association.

I'd say we have two options. We can address the perception issue on the
edges, or you can treat the root cause. Neither of those options is
really an OpenStack  governance change (or "big tent" change) -- they
are more about what to do with things that are actually *not* in our

Addressing the perception on the edges means making it clearer when
things are not official. The thread above discussed a lot of potential
solutions. We could give unofficial things a catchy group name
(Stackforge, Opium, Electrons...), and hope it sticks. We could find a
way to tag all projects on GitHub that are not official, or mirror them
to another organization, or stop mirroring them altogether. We could
remove the openstack/ prefix from all the projects we host. We could
actively mark all wiki pages that are not about an official project. We
could set up a separate Gerrit or separate ML for hosted projects
development discussions. The main issue with that approach is that it's
a *lot* of work, and it never completely eliminates the confusion.

Removing the root cause would be a more radical move: stop offering
hosting to non-OpenStack projects on OpenStack infrastructure
altogether. We originally did that for a reason, though. The benefits of
offering that service are:

1- it lets us set up code repositories and testing infrastructure before
a project applies to be an official OpenStack project.

2- it lets us host things that are not openstack but which we work on
(like abandoned Python libraries or GPL-licensed things) in a familiar

3- it spreads "the openstack way" (Gerrit, Zuul) beyond openstack itself

I would argue that we could handle (1) and (2) within our current

For (1) we could have an "onboarding" project team that would help
incoming projects through the initial steps of becoming an openstack
project. The team would act as an umbrella team, an experimental area
for projects that have some potential to become an OpenStack project one
day. There would be a time limit -- if after one year(?) it looks like
you won't become an openstack project after all, the onboarding team
would clean you up. I actually think a bit more project mentoring would
serve us better than our current hands-free approach.

For (2) we could also have some other official project team as an
umbrella for those deps we depend on and have to continue maintaining.
Or we could expand Oslo's team scope to cover it. It's just a couple of
repositories anyway.

That leaves (3). I would argue that was a nice thing to have, but its
impact was very limited (not so many successful/alive projects in that
category). I guess if the need is still there and people really want to
work on this, it could be (and actually has been) set up as a parallel
infrastructure. The confusion that stems from running it on top of the
very same infrastructure is just too costly for us at this point.

This radical solution still means work, but it's one-time governance
work, rather than infra changes / continuous curation work. It *is*
radical though, especially for the affected git repositories (for which
we often don't have any contact email). It will also make removing
projects a lot more difficult (as there will be consequences in terms of
project hosting).

Thoughts on that ? Would you rather address the confusion at the edges,
or remove the root cause ?

Thierry Carrez (ttx)

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