Last week, Novell did a very curious and exceptional thing: it loosened its grip on the OpenSuse community, allowing (and encouraging) its first community-elected and -managed board.
How cool is that? Novell has had an OpenSuse board for the past year, but not one for and by the community itself. I asked Joe Brockmeier, OpenSuse community manager, to comment:
Having a community-elected board is a major step forward for the project. We now have more than 212 recognized members, which means that contributors who have made significant and sustained contributions to the project, and who have applied for membership, and been approved.
Giving them a voice in the board's election is very important, and I think that the new board will be a catalyst for even more community growth in the next year. The bootstrap board, which was appointed by Novell last year, has done a great job--but there's much more to do.
Indeed, this is somewhat unique among commercial open-source companies, to allow nonemployees to participate in the governance of a project. I've been a critic of some of Novell's moves vis-a-vis open source and its communities, but this board election demonstrates real commitment to open communities and open source. Well done.