CentOS project lead disappears

July 31, 2009 // 2:15 p.m.

Tags: #centos #centos-open-letter #disappearance #lance-davis #linux #open-source

The future of the CentOS Linux project appears in jeopardy as the project lead, Lance Davis, has dropped off the face of the Earth.

According to a Slashdot posting, Lance Davis - the administrator of several key project resources including the centos.org domain, the project IRC channels, and holder of project funds - has disappeared without trace.

In an open letter posted to the project homepage, the remaining project members stated that Davis has "crawled into a hole" since they requested "a statement of CentOS project funds [which] has not appeared." The remaining members are also concerned that Davis "holds sole control of the centos.org domain with no deputy" and that he holds "sole 'Founders' rights in the IRC channels with no deputy."

According to the letter, Davis has been completely incommunicado for two weeks, with permanent engaged tones on his telephone numbers and no replies to voice or e-mail - causing consternation amongst the development team. The problem, however, appears to go back further than this.

In a post to his blog, CentOS contributur Dag Wieƫrs reveals that "for at least three years people were donating money [to the project] and sponsors were paying for website ads while the money was not flowing into the project," with only Davies knowing where the funds - thought to be in the region of thousands of Euros per month - have been going.

Discussing the open letter on his own blog, fellow contributor Ralph Angenendt reveals that although the open letter itself only talks about a lack of communication in the last two weeks, nobody has heard from Davis since "some time in 2008."

With no contact for several months, the letter goes on to ask Davis to get in touch as soon as possible, and to not allow the CentOS project to die "through your fear of shared management of the project."

If no answer from Davis is forthcoming, it's likely that the remaining developers will jump ship and set up their own project fork - which would spell the end for CentOS in its current incarnation.

Is this one of the perils of open-source software development, or does it just demonstrate the importance of ensuring that nobody has sole control of a project? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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