The burden of keeping things private
Now that the cat is out of the bag I can discuss one part of what bothered me within the CentOS project for more than 2 years. Something which was unknown to outsiders, but also not discussable inside of the project because of the fear of the repercussions of bringing up this topic during a meeting. If you cannot discuss, you cannot fix.
The CentOS project does not have any recurring expenses, the project works with volunteers. And those volunteers pay with their own time, their own resources and sometimes travel expenses (for those who joined one of the promotion events). The project does get hardware and bandwidth donations and they are very valuable. In the end there is no need for money to keep the project running as-is.
But that of course does not mean that money couldn't help grow the project and that is why (I think) initially when the project was set up there was an effort to raise money. Google adsense, sponsorship on the website and even Paypal donations from users. How much, I cannot say because I don't know. I heard some vague numbers, likely in the 4 digits EUR range per month but real figures are only known by one person.
For at least three years people were donating money and sponsors were paying for website ads while the money was not flowing into the project, where it went to I can only guess. Raising the question was a risk to the project so everybody stayed quiet for the sake of the project hoping it would resolve itself. But this evidently has a burden on its volunteers, especially those that do invest their time and effort into the project.
Sadly such things never resolve themselves, they only get more ugly. I commend the project for coming clean and I didn't expect it would happen as quick as it did. But once the financial issues are resolved, there is a lot of work to turn the project into a real community project that can release even when one person is out of office, that is owned by a foundation and that makes the best use of the power of its the community.
Keywords here are trust, delegation and leadership (all three go together).
All in all, this is very good news from the CentOS project team ! Hope to see the first CentOS elections in 2009 ;-)