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Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation Approves Bylaws and Charter for Open Community Control of Rocky Linux and Projects

RENO, Nev.—November 10, 2022—The Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation (RESF) today published its charter and bylaws, documenting the organization’s governing structure and rules for hosting open source projects, including its namesake project, Rocky Linux. The charter and bylaws also describe the RESF vision to create and nurture a community of individuals and organizations that are committed to ensuring the longevity, stewardship and innovation of enterprise-grade open source software that is always freely available.

RESF Resources: Charter and bylaws; frequently asked questions.

Adopted on November 9, the new RESF charter and bylaws were voted on by the initial charter member group of 30 RESF and Rocky Linux contributors. The vote was procedurally ratified by Gregory Kurtzer, who filed the original paperwork to establish the RESF as a Delaware Public Benefits Corporation (PBC). By ratifying the new bylaws and charter, Kurtzer legally has turned over the control of the RESF to the structure defined within those documents, a structure designed to ensure community control while specifically enabling enterprise use-cases and the participation of vendors and other commercial entities.

Kurtzer co-founded and once led the former open-source project CentOS Linux, a popular bug-for-bug-compatible alternative to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Red Hat ultimately acquired CentOS, officially absorbing it in 2014 and announcing its end of life in 2020. Hours after the announcement, Kurtzer announced a CentOS replacement project which then became the Rocky Linux project with the objective of creating an open source, community-led, production-ready downstream version of RHEL that could never be controlled by a single corporate entity or individual.

“Open source projects should not be subject to corporate control or business agendas,” said Kurtzer. “What makes a successful open source project isn’t having a single individual behind it or even having a massive company behind it; what makes it successful is having many individuals and many companies all supporting and managing it collectively, in line with shared interests. That has been our goal with Rocky Linux and the RESF from day one. The RESF charter and bylaws reflect our intent that neither Rocky Linux nor any RESF project will ever be controlled, purchased or otherwise influenced by a single entity or individual.”

Although avoiding singular corporate control is integral to the governing principles of RESF, the foundation’s charter and bylaws encourage corporate involvement and aim to support the needs of commercial organizations, professional IT teams and the community at large. To that end, the RESF bylaws require, among other things, that:

  • All board seats are voted by peers based only on merit. No board seats are ever purchased or bought, and no single company can represent more than one-third of any voting board.

  • Becoming a member to a project or project team is simply a matter of being active in that project and applying. All members are absolutely equal and everybody is welcome—from developers to non-engineering roles.

  • Sustainability is ensured through a combination of community management balanced with sponsor and partner enablement with a commitment to “return the wealth” back into the open source community translating to further development and contributions for the projects.

  • Every project gets a voice within the foundation and is governed by checks and balances. Every project will have a project board, and each project board will have a seat on the foundation board.

  • Each Tier 1 Principal Sponsor is granted a single advisory seat. The advisory committees do not have the ability to vote on decisions within the RESF or projects; they exist primarily to provide guidance and collaboration.

Read the full charter and bylaws of the RESF here.

“The model reflected in the RESF charter and bylaws represents the model behind Rocky Linux and one of the major reasons Rocky Linux has so quickly become the leading successor to CentOS,” said Kurtzer, citing EPEL statistics and Hyperion Research data (slide 63). “Rocky Linux benefits not only from an active community but also from strong commercial support. A number of well known organizations provide financial support and value-add contributions as sponsors. Additionally many companies provide representatives who are active project contributors, and many of our community members offer their own commercial products and services based on Rocky Linux.”

“We, the RESF charter members, want to create a place where other projects can take advantage of this model as well,” said Benjamin Agner, deputy CISO at Unum Group and a co-lead of the security and compliance team for Rocky Linux and the RESF. “So, we’ve worked hard to design a protective structure—based on principles of accountability and transparency—to balance corporate interests and needs with those of the community. We’re confident this structure will support growth and deliver stability and longevity as well.”

Heather Meeker, an attorney and venture capitalist specializing in open source software, advised on the creation of the bylaws. “It’s important for companies hosting and creating open source communities to have a choice when they consider how to best host their projects,” she said. “It’s not one-size-fits-all. Some companies want total control over that project. Others want a pure, decentralized community, but lacking an appropriate structure can have challenges. The RESF has taken a fresh approach to helping organizations and projects build a community home for open source projects, and I look forward to seeing all the RESF projects and commercial sector flourish and benefit from its structure.”

The RESF welcomes any open source projects that need a neutral ground to operate to make the RESF their home. No association with Rocky Linux is necessary to join the RESF. Projects do not need to be Linux-related, but they must be open source. Entities interested in bringing their open source projects to RESF can contact hello@rockylinux.org for more information.

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