Board Update #1 - Starting Process and Transparent Communication

As we take the first step in appointing the constitutional assembly, we intend to maintain full openness and transparency throughout the process. You can expect to see frequent updates here, and on matrix.

Current Board Effort: Appointing a Constitutional Assembly

Update #1 - May 2nd, 2024

Update: There is current work being done to explore and define a Zulip instance to help be the central spot for these upcoming conversations. You can track that in the foundation repo as well. Request for a Zulip account for governance discussion · Issue #143 · NixOS/foundation · GitHub

We have begun to dive deep into the topic of appointing the constitutional assembly, and the steps around it. This is planned for the following two days. As part of that process we are also looking into the practices of various open source communities, with a goal of learning from their experiences in delegating power effectively, sustainably, and in a manner that truly represents the community’s interests. We are currently drafting an initial communication that will outline our planned process, including how the board plans to think through and decide on appointing the Assembly clearly for everyone interested.

Here are some key aspects we are considering:

  • What is the mission of the assembly?
  • What are we looking for in people in the assembly?
  • How many people should the assembly consist of?
  • What information should assembly nominees provide?

Additionally, we are interested to connect with industry experts who have navigated similar transitions in other open source communities. If you are or know someone, please connect them with us! :slightly_smiling_face:

We aim to release the initial statement regarding self-nominating by May 6


NixOS Foundation Board


Hopefully also, «Is there any special structured process for feedback between the assembly and contributors not in the assembly?» (not saying that the answer must be yes! but if the assembly is small, it is worth considering)


Zulip will be the platform we use as a community for this specific effort. Most likely with a mix of comms coming into our main channels such as this discourse.

Maybe an assembly proportionate to the number of maintainers in the nix project as a whole (or nixpkgs) would be good?

1 Like

I was looking for a way to keep up with how things go without having to read 1,000 messages every day across many channels. Many thanks to you @ronefand and team for maintaining these updates.

I would guess I’m not the only one who does not have time to keep up with everything but does care about it.


Also, if you have questions that I should keep in mind when talking to experts/folks from other communities, let me know!

1 Like

That’s the goal, keep me honest if there’s any way to do this better. Getting lots of help also from a bunch of community members <3


My wish is that the assembly is both proportionally representative of the current camps in the community (e.g. flakes vs. classic, stability vs. innovation, product vs. marketplace of ideas, library vs. framework, toolbox vs. appliance, individuals vs. companies vs. administration vs. academia, open vs. libre, …) but also capable of arriving at a consensus within 2 months.

I think for that the number of people will need to be rather 11 or 13 than 5 or 7, but maybe – hopefully – there’s a 5-group that manages to strike that balance. It may have an associated group of consultants or observers that don’t have a vote but help with producing the documents.

The assembly should primarily answer three questions:

  1. Who are we? (current membership, how to get in, when to get out)
  2. Why are we here? (mission, vision, and values for the ecosystem)
  3. How to achieve our goals? (a governance structure – a constitution – that supports the mission)

As a first step, that group should make explicit the lines of (potential) conflict. Otherwise I don’t see these conflicts being handled, constructively or at all. Only then I expect any of these outcomes, all of which are reasonable and acceptable for me, in order of increasing appeal:

  • An orderly separation of irreconcilable schools of thought into different communities
  • A strong separation of concerns (and ownership) within the same community
  • An unifying agreement (not a watered-down compromise) on how to overcome substantial conflicts

I would like to have people on the assembly who bring strong technical, social, and communication skills, who have contributed substantially to make the ecosystem what it is today, and who have a clear and concise proposal for a future direction of the ecosystem, which encompasses the technology and the people making it.

I’d like applications to answer the following questions:

  • Why do I care? (motivation)
  • Which ideas do I subscribe to and why? (position)
  • Who or how many do I represent? (representation)
  • What have I contributed so far and how can I help in the future? (qualification)
  • What is my agenda? (vision)
  • How do I make sure to stick around until the job is done? (commitment)

@ron brought up with me a discussion about the form of applications, and @RaitoBezarius suggested allowing group proposals. I think, both individuals as well as “packaged proposals” should be allowed. It is by definition at the board’s discretion to pick from the options, and state the rationale.


I would really like to wait until we start opening up Zulip, because that’s where we intend to have all these discussions. We will send first invites in the European morning!

However, just to throw some extra thoughts in addition to Valentins: I don’t think the assembly needs to necessarily be representative of the community, because they’re not the ones to make decisions on behalf of the community. Their task is only to create a governance structure that can. I don’t want people with strong opinions on technicalities like flakes vs. classic Nix, I want people that are experienced with community governance building! Of course we still need some community representation, but I’d want at least 2 domain experts!


I’m starting to setup meetings with folks under the industry expert hats. Will share meeting notes starting tomorrow :slight_smile: