Board meeting, November 13th, 2001


  • Ben Collins
  • Branden Robinson
  • Ean Schuessler
  • Manoj Srivastava
  • Nils Lohner
  • Wichert Akkerman


  • Darren Benham
  • Ian Jackson
  • Scott McNeil

Absent with regrets:

  • Martin `Joey' Schulze (mostly)

Advisors present:

  • Rob Levin


  1. take attendance
  2. approve meeting minutes
  3. modification of email voting
  4. treasurer report
  5. membership report
  6. OS committee report
  7. LinuxPPC update
  8. Legal issues and `crypto-in-main' update
  9. miscellaneous
  10. next meeting

Recorder: Wichert Akkerman

The board meeting was held using Internet Relay Chat. Nils opens the meeting at 20:13 UTC.

1. Approving minutes from previous meetings

Nils asks Ean if the missing minutes were completed with the open issues addressed. Branden suggests that the minutes be accepted in their current state and be amended later. Wichert is unsure if we could technically do that considering minutes become official records once approved. Branden moves that the current minutes be accepted as-is and we consider anything not covered in them as not having happened. Ean mentions that he does not have the time currently to properly produce minutes and would like to resign as secretary. The board accepts this and a new agenda item to select a new secretary was added to the agenda.

Vote to approve the minutes of the July 10 meeting minutes as posted to the SPI board in message Votes:

Branden: against

Ean: against

Nils: against

Manoj: against

Wichert: against

The July 10 minutes in their current form are not approved.

Vote to approve the minutes of the August 6 meeting minutes as posted to the SPI board in message Votes:

Branden: against

Ean: against

Nils: against

Manoj: against

Wichert: against

The August 6 minutes in their current form are not accepted.

Vote to approve the minutes of the September 17 meeting minutes as posted to the SPI board in message Votes:

Branden: against

Ean: against

Nils: against

Manoj: against

Wichert: against

The September 17 minutes in their current form are not accepted.

Branden asks about the minutes for October's meeting. It is determined no minutes have been made yet, only an IRC log is available.

Nils promises to look at the IRC logs for the meetings and produce updated minutes in the next 2 weeks. Branden commits to put the relevant IRC logs in his home directory on purcel.

2. Modification of email voting

Ian proposed earlier to regulate the email voting so that it is still usable with 8 to 12 board members. Nils asks if anyone is opposed to modifying the voting procedure to require a quorum of 75% of the board if they agree unanimously. Manoj adds that a minimum of 4 should be required. Branden suggests 75% plus unanimity might be too strict. Nils explains the thought is that email voting should be for obvious issues where not much discussion is required to get things done quickly', and as such unanimity should not be a problem. There is some confusion on the definition of quorum, which Wichert describes as the minimum number of people voting required to make a vote legal. Branden suggestsQuorum shall be 4 or 50% of the board membership eligible to vote, whichever is greater". Wichert is in favour of that suggestion. Nils asks if anyone objected to it, and if not he would write something the board could vote on at the next meeting. Nobody objects.

3. Treasurer report

Branden has an update:

Sean Perry has continued to make attempts to contact Darren Benham. Contact has been made, but no fruit has been borne yet. Sean spoke to me today and said he hopes to talk to Darren again today.

4. Membership report

Martin Michlmayr mentions some technicalities that need to be fixed on the web-server and the list-server. It is agreed he should take that up with SPI-admin. He also mentions that there were at the moment 116 contributing and 27 non-contributing members.

5. Open Source committee report

Unfortunately Ean has to leave for a meeting, so this agenda item is postponed until next meeting.

6. Linux PPC update

Wichert apologises for not having any updates due to having been too busy with finding new employment and settling in at his new job.

7. Legal issues and `crypto-in-main' update

Manoj has some interesting news:

The FSF is interested in their hiring a lawyer and paying
someone to go through all licences in main, and telling us of
any problems They shall bear all costs for this exercise. In
return, I committed to bringing up a policy proposal to set
up an email address to which all *new* package licences
should be mailed to prior to initial upload to incoming


Also, they shall vet any and all packages in main and see if we have LZW encoded gifs, and warn us


the FSF is also committed to providing legal expertise to enable crypto in main

Nils says this sounded like a good idea, but it is something that the FSF needs to discuss with Debian instead of SPI, and asks Manoj to discuss this with Ben and Debian. Manoj agrees and adds that this was just a FYI.

Ben has an update about the cryptography policies for Debian. Debian is ready to allow crypto in its main archive. All the documents are in order and all questions have been resolved. Branden asks Ben who bears the responsibility of the notification requirements, because ultimately it is SPI's responsibility in a legal sense. Ben explains:

the day-to-day will be handled by a mixture of archive emails to a designated person, who will then send in paper form and push things through incoming afterwards it's somewhat more complex than it sounds, but the majority of the mechanism is automated and yes, precautions are being made to keep in-waiting crypto from being public, even to developers.

Wichert asks if the SPI board will be able to read and approve the documents before Debian proceeds. Ben agrees with this, as long as the board is just in its decision. Branden adds he would not mind expediting things as much as reasonable.

7. ALS

Branden and Manoj are not happy with the way Debian was treated at ALS. Debian was presented with a bare booth, no chairs, net connectivity, tables or power. This was partially the fault of Sean Perry who requested the booth but had not realized he needed to ask for (the free) power and net connection. A table cost $131 and was paid for the by FSF. Chairs and trash cans were too expensive and not rented. External chairs, tables and food were not allowed for `security reasons'.

Branden proposes that Debian/SPI, the FSF and other groups organise a boycott of ALS. Nils tells Branden to propose that to Debian since it is not an SPI issue. Branden counters that if Debian has to pay for such costs this is done either from developers' private pockets, or SPI funds, so a policy on who pays for Debian's booth expenses is needed. Nils responds that this was still a Debian matter. Ben thinks that a boycott is a start, but more is needed.

Wichert wonders what exactly the problem is. Branden explains that the problem is that ALS was not what it used to be in that it doesn't respect the non-profit and informal organizations that ALS has recognized as the `heart and soul of Linux' in the past, and is upset that no external equipment could be brought in. Wichert thinks that is true for most shows (including Linux shows these days).

Everyone agrees the FSF will be refunded for the costs they incurred on Debian's behalf.

Branden mentions that reimbursement might be a problem considering AmEx froze SPI's account. He explains that buying drives for auric's new RAID raised red flags since they have not heard from SPI's treasurer in ages so they froze the account.

8. SPI mailing-lists

Wichert mentions that he set up as a replacement for the current (Debian hosted) a while ago but has not received any feedback on it. If nobody objects, he wants to populate the lists using the current subscriber lists and switch DNS in the next 10 days. A method for verifying spi-private subscribers with registered members still has to designed. Nobody objects.

9. Attendance

The attendance list is verified.

Branden proposes to remove Darren Benham and Scott McNeil from the SPI board under the board attendance policy, considering they have missed 3 meetings in a row without regrets. Nils says he wants to talk with both personally in this or next week first. Wichert does not mind voting on Darren immediately but would rather wait with Scott until Nils has spoken with him. Manoj also prefers voting now.

Vote to remove Darren Benham from the SPI Board of Directors for violation of the Meeting Attendance Policy:

Branden: in favour

Nils: in favour

Manoj: in favour

Wichert: in favour

The vote is accepted.

Branden moves to ask SPI's attorney-at-law to draft a letter to Darren requesting the surrender of all SPI materials, which we can send if Darren hasn't done so by next week. After some discussion it is agreed to proceed with this.

Branden notices that according to the web-pages Scott is not a board member so a motion to remove him was not necessary. Nils adds that Scott also mailed a semi-resignation when he found he did not have enough time for SPI so he prefers to let Scott resign formally.

10. SPI Secretary

Since Ean resigned as secretary earlier in the meeting, a new secretary needs to be elected. Nils nominates Wichert for the position. Branden seconds the nomination.

Votes for nominating Wichert Akkerman as the new secretary of SPI:

Branden: in favour

Nils: in favour

Manoj: in favour

Wichert: abstained

The vote is accepted, and Wichert accepts the position.

11. Next meeting

The next SPI board meeting is set for November 26 at 20.00 UTC