I don’t agree on this. It is not up to the inc to define the project vision, and even less so the role of its chairman. The lack of a clearly defined vision is a problem in the Haiku project (as a consequence of “let’s clone BeOS R5”, the initial project vision, being completely irrelevant today, let’s face it), and the inc cannot do anything about it.
In fact this is even by design in the current status of the organization. When it was created, people were worried that someone with enough money would get a right in deciding what should or should not be done. The inc was set up as a proxy: they get the money, but they try as much as possible to not interfere with development. The drawback is that they cannot make any decision by themselves, and requests for funding should come from the Haiku project, or at least, be validated by the project. Which in turn leads to the next problem: the Haiku project is not at all organized in a way that makes taking such decisions possible. It worked when the project was small, but not anymore. There are many contributors, each with different views on what is important and each with their personal interest.
I’ve already stated mine, but let’s do it again because it never hurts. I run Haiku as my main OS because I think it’s what works best for me. Therefore it is my personal interest that it works well with my hardware, and that I can get work done on other things. This is the main reason I keep contributing, and the reason it works is that there are other people also doing similar work. I also find it quite nice that we can help people get starterd with open source, and as a result I’m involved in GSoC and GCI. And finally, it is a great learning experience for me, both in technical aspects and in how a team like that is run and how things can keep running despite all the problems.
As you can probably see, this vision is very personal. I don’t have a grand world domination plan or something. I just do what I need. But I think my work is appreciated here.
Of course, some things would be easier if you could just turn out to some lead developer and ask him (or her), “is that the Haiku Way?”. But, we don’t have such a person around. No one is responsible for the Haiku Way. And this is what makes the project so interesting to work with, because everyone can make the idea his own, and by doing so, contribute to the shared vision. The drawback is a lot of inertia when we need to change the vision, because no one dares to push it too far in one direction or another. And this is how we end up still defending gcc2 and BeOS binary compatibility support in 2018.
I think we can manage without a leader, still. But we may need to stop for a bit and think together about where we want to do. Each of us devs should come up with a short description of his personal vision. We will probably be surprised by how much each of us has a different idea. But I think we can still agree on some shared things. And then we can tell the inc - and the devs - “this is what we’re trying to do”. Then people can contribute and help making the vision a reality.
Yes, it is harder than just nominating someone as responsible for the vision and letting him decide. But taking part in such a collective management and seeing it succeed is one of the reasons I enjoy working in the Haiku project so much. And from what I know about them, I think many of the team members agree on this.
There is also a reason for why we have a team like that: our lack of a well-defined vision means that potential contributors who expect a clear direction and instructions usually feel lost in the way Haiku is organized, and will not manage to contribute in useful ways (I also see this happen in other places where I tend to work in the same way). So they will not stick with the project and find something else where they can contribute. As a result, someone who would be more at ease with a more organized team is unlikely to start contributing to Haiku, and even less likely to manage to take the lead on anything. The only way this would happen would be someone forking the project and putting his vision on his fork, and managing to attract more traction than the current Haiku. But so far I have seen no one seriously attempting this, so it seems, once again, that the current model works just well enough to keep people working that way.