[OpenAFS] Consensus Call - AFS3-Standardization Charter

Jeffrey Hutzelman jhutz@cmu.edu
Wed, 07 Jul 2010 19:08:12 -0400

This has gotten fairly lengthy, but please read through to the end.  This 
message contains important information on the future of AFS protocol 
standardization work, and a specific request for input from the AFS 
community (that is, YOUR input) within the next 2 weeks.

PLEASE send followups to afs3-standardization@openafs.org

Back in January of 2006, the afs3-standardization@openafs.org mailing list 
was created in order to provide a forum for discussion of the AFS protocols 
and particularly to coordinate extensions and changes to those protocols 
among the various implementations.  The first discussions in that vein 
started the following month, with Jeffrey Altman's proposal to define new 
GetCapabilities RPC's for each of the various RPC services.  Since then, 
there have been discussions on a wide variety of proposed extensions, some 
small and some much larger in scope.  Overall, I consider the mailing list 
to have been and continue to be a success.

Two years ago, at the AFS & Kerberos Best Practices Workshop at NJIT in 
Newark, NJ, there was some discussion about the prospect of establishing a 
more formal charter and process for the standardization group, and 
especially of insuring its independence from any one implementation.  After 
the workshop, Simon Wilkinson took a stab at writing such a charter, and 
sent his proposal to the afs3-standardization mailing list (see Simon's 
message to that list, dated 15-Jul-2008).  This prompted quite a lot of 
discussion and two additional drafts over following couple of months. After 
the third draft, there was exactly one additional comment, and there has 
been no further discussion since.

It is my personal belief that there was general agreement within the 
community to move forward with Simon's draft as an initial charter for the 
standardization group.  However, there has been little progress in the last 
21 months.  Much of this is my fault -- I kept saying I was going to do 
something and then not getting around to it.  However, while the document 
hasn't been discussed much in the interim, my conversations during that 
time with various individuals, in person and online, lead me to believe 
that there is _still_ general agreement to proceed with Simon's draft.

So, here's what I'm going to do about it...

Simon's document calls for a bootstrapping process in which a registrar 
group is form of the then-current registrar (myself) plus one 
representative from each current implementation (IBM, OpenAFS, kAFS, Arla) 
that cares to provide one.  The registrars would then serve as vote-takers 
in an initial election of two chairs as described in section 2.2.2 of the 

The initial bootstrapping of the registrars has already mostly taken place. 
Thomas Kula has agreed to serve as a registrar representing OpenAFS, and 
has held that position officially since the 2009 workshop.  Around that 
time, I asked IBM, kAFS, and Arla to nominate registrars, but I have yet to 
receive a response that resulted in an actual volunteer.  If any of those 
organizations wants to nominate someone, please contact me.  Otherwise, 
Thomas and I have already agreed that we will nonetheless increase the size 
of the registrar group to at least three and seek out a volunteer to fill 
the vacant position.  It is my hope that we can accomplish that by the end 
of the month.

The next step would seem to be the bootstrapping of the chairs.  However, 
we have a recursive-dependency problem here -- before we can use the 
election process defined in Simon's document with any confidence, we must 
be sure we have consensus among the community to use that document. 
However, lacking a chair, there is no formal means of determining consensus.
Chicken, meet Egg.

Simon's document itself proposes part of the solution to this problem, in 
the form of the last paragraph of section 3, which calls on the 
newly-formed group to develop, adopt, and publish its own charter.  To 
complete the solution, the registrars note that the first step (indeed, the 
first several steps) in electing new chairs rest on our hands.  Thus, we 
are taking the following actions:

(1) I have asked Simon to submit the latest version of his proposed charter
    in the form of an Internet-Draft.  That draft is now available at

(2) On behalf of the registrars, I am issuing this consensus call.  This
    is an attempt to elicit comments and to discover whether there is
    rough consensus in the AFS community to begin formalizing the protocol
    standards process as described in the draft named above.  I am asking
    everyone to review the proposed charter and send any comments to the
    mailing list, afs3-standardization@openafs.org, within the next 2

(3) On or shortly after Wednesday, July 21, 2010, the registrars will
    examine the comments received and make a determination as to whether
    we believe such a consensus exists.  Depending on the state affairs,
    we may choose to wait a while longer for discussion to die down before
    making a determination.  In other words, this is not a hard deadline;
    it is only the earliest date on which we will make any decision.

If at this point the registrars believe that there is not a rough consensus 
to adopt Simon's draft charter and that no such consensus is forthcoming, 
we will simply stop.  Things will continue as they are today, with no 
formal process, unless or until someone tries again.

However, if the registrars believe that a rough consensus _does_ exist, we 
will more or less immediately begin the election process as described in 
section 2.2.2, with the full set of registrars (at least Thomas and myself, 
and preferably at least one other) serving as vote-takers.  Our goal will 
be to follow the timeline set out in that document.  However, this is 
incumbent on the community reaching a consensus in time to start the 
election process no later than early August.  If a consensus emerges, but 
more slowly, then we will adjust the timeline accordingly.

Here's the important bit again:

Please take the time to review draft-wilkinson-afs3-standardization-00.txt.
Send your questions and comments to <afs3-standardization@openafs.org>.
Please comment even if it's just to say "I support this" or "I oppose this".
Please send your comments in by Wednesday, July 21, 2010.

-- Jeffrey T. Hutzelman (N3NHS) <jhutz+@cmu.edu>
   for the AFS Assigned Numbers Registrars