Thursday, July 30, 2009

What is up with the CentOS project

Some people may have noticed the open letter to Lance Davis that has appeared on the CentOS website ( or the CentOS mailing list ( Some people may also noticed that the project was not running as it should lately. Since it is in the open now I can talk about all this. These are my personal opinions about this issue.

I only joined the project a little more then two years ago, so I'm was not personally involved in the start of the CentOS project. Lance is one of the co-founders of the project. I really would like to thank Lance, and the other co-founders, for their work and getting this great project started. But from the time I got involved in the project things have gone from bad to worse with Lance.

Now, I don't know him or what is going on at his end. So I'm only going to report facts here and leave the interpretation of these to you, dear reader.

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.

The second issue is that Lance has registered the domain using one of his companies and that the rest of the team has no control of it. He is the only one who can make changes to it. It is not registered to he project itself. He recently even put a anonymiser service on the domain, meaning that people can no longer see the real owner of the domain.

The third issue is that 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.
We repeatably asked Lance for a overview of the finances of the project, but he never showed that to the rest. We have no idea how much money flowed into the project.

These three issues basically means that the project depends to much on one person and that a lot of things are invisible for the project and the community. And this is unacceptable. We need to be transparent and Lance is preventing this. We asked repeatably to correct these things in private. But he never did.

So we, the rest of the team, have said that this was enough. That is why the public letter was made and also why we removed, temporarily, the Google ads and the link to PayPal from the CentOS website.

We still like to make things right and give Lance the change to correct all this and open up. If not we will continue without him and get the project back on track. And yes, this might potentially mean that we loose the domain and all the money already received by the project through the ads and PayPal. This is also what I regret the most, that money that people have donated, thinking they are helping the project, flowed to 1 person. I sincerely apologize to everyone for this.

The open letter and thoughts of other team members can be found on the following none sites :

And I will also reproduce it here for completeness:

July 30, 2009 04:39 UTC

This is an Open Letter to Lance Davis from fellow CentOS Developers

It is regrettable that we are forced to send this letter but we are left with no other options. For some time now we have been attempting to resolve these problems:

You seem to have crawled into a hole ... and this is not acceptable.

You have long promised a statement of CentOS project funds; to this date this has not appeared.

You hold sole control of the domain with no deputy; this is not proper.

You have, it seems, sole 'Founders' rights in the IRC channels with no deputy ; this is not proper.

When I (Russ) try to call the phone numbers for UK Linux, and for you individually, I get a telco intercept 'Lines are temporarily busy' for the last two weeks. Finally yesterday, a voicemail in your voice picked up, and I left a message urgently requesting a reply. Karanbir also reports calling and leaving messages without your reply.

Please do not kill CentOS through your fear of shared management of the project.

Clearly the project dies if all the developers walk away.

Please contact me, or any other signer of this letter at once, to arrange for the required information to keep the project alive at the '' domain.


Russ Herrold
Ralph Angenendt
Karanbir Singh
Jim Perrin
Donavan Nelson
Tim Verhoeven
Tru Huynh
Johnny Hughes