openSUSE:Project name change vote

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Vote on openSUSE Project name change

Background

A discussion on changing the name of our project stemmed from another topic on the project mailing list, regarding the registration of the project as a foundation. The proposal was brought forward at the openSUSE Conference 2019 during the annual discussion with the board. Afterward it was proposed that if the project name is to be changed then now would be the moment so that the foundation is registered under the new project name.

The merits and consequences of changing the project name were discussed on the project mailing list for several weeks. The initial question was asked by Stasiek Michalski (LCP) and Richard Brown provided some legal perspective after chatting with friends within the SUSE legal team. After the board consulted a specialized lawyer it pointed out that both independent legal entities (openSUSE and SUSE) can keep their brands and go into competition with each other, so trademarks would not be a show-stopper.

The discussions around changing or keeping the project name may be summarized as follows:

Why should we keep the current project name?

  • We would lose brand reputation earned over the years if the name is changed.
  • Many members and other contributors are strongly attached to the current name.
  • Changing the name might give the impression that the relationship between SUSE and openSUSE is strained.
  • A lot of work will be required to rename domains, OBS projects and metadata, GitHub namespace, packages trademarks, etc.
  • Rebranding requires a tremendous amount of communication (and money) over years to establish the new brand name.
  • SUSE can transfer or license relevant trademarks to an openSUSE Foundation.
  • The relationship with SUSE is part of our marketing strategy, e.g. Leap/SLE's shared codebase.
  • Changing the project name will make current openSUSE swag (T-shirts, mugs, stickers, etc) obsolete.

Why should we change the project name?

  • openSUSE is often typed and/or pronounced incorrectly (e.g. OpenSUSE, OpenSuSE etc). Watch how do you say SUSE?
  • The Free Software Foundation (FSF) complains about the looseness of the term "open".
  • The distinction between openSUSE and SUSE can be confusing to people new to either brand. Some people have been known to shorten openSUSE to SUSE.
  • If the community thinks that the project benefits from a new name then this is the moment to change it, i.e. before registering a new legal structure (like a foundation).

The above arguments are not an endorsement by the Board or the Election Committee.


Vote

The community remains divided over the subject and under such circumstance it is not straightforward to assume consensus by just looking at mailing list discussions. The Board, therefore, asked the Election Committee to hold a vote in order to obtain the community's decision in a more measurable way.

The Election Committee announced that the vote will be held from 10 Oct to 7 Nov 2019.

The Election Committee can be reached through election-officials@opensuse.org for queries relating to this vote.

Vote process

Electronic voting is conducted at elections.opensuse.org, the same platform used for Board elections.

Members receive their electronic voting link and credential to their @opensuse.org email alias. They can then login and cast their vote. They can also change their vote at any time before 23h59 UTC on 7 Nov 2019. Only the last vote will be registered.

Vote question

Do we change the project name?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No

The question is kept simple to avoid any ambiguity or bias on part of the Board or the Election Committee.

The more detailed questions would have been (for technical reasons this could not be used, as the vote was already set-up):

[ ] I am in favor of changing the name of our project from "openSUSE" and replacing uses of the "openSUSE" name with a new name. I would like to see the Board and SUSE to work together towards that goal. (Next steps will include determining concrete proposals and likely a follow-up vote on the actual choice.)
(This corresponds to the Yes vote.)

[ ] I am in favor of keeping the name "openSUSE" for our project and would like to see the Board and SUSE to work together to establish whatever is necessary (in terms of trademarks and other agreements) to allow for that.
(This corresponds to the No vote.)

Result

The vote result will be announced on 8 Nov 2019. Members will receive the result by email. The result will also be published on news.opensuse.org and announced on the project mailing list.