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Dear maintainer. Thank you for investing the time and energy to help make runc as useful as possible. Maintaining a project is difficult, sometimes unrewarding work. Sure, you will get to contribute cool features to the project. But most of your time will be spent reviewing, cleaning up, documenting, answering questions, justifying design decisions - while everyone has all the fun! But remember - the quality of the maintainers work is what distinguishes the good projects from the great. So please be proud of your work, even the unglamourous parts, and encourage a culture of appreciation and respect for every aspect of improving the project - not just the hot new features.

This document is a manual for maintainers old and new. It explains what is expected of maintainers, how they should work, and what tools are available to them.

This is a living document - if you see something out of date or missing, speak up!

What are a maintainer's responsibility?

It is every maintainer's responsibility to:

  • 1) Expose a clear roadmap for improving their component.
  • 2) Deliver prompt feedback and decisions on pull requests.
  • 3) Be available to anyone with questions, bug reports, criticism etc. on their component. This includes IRC and GitHub issues and pull requests.
  • 4) Make sure their component respects the philosophy, design and roadmap of the project.

How are decisions made?

Short answer: with pull requests to the runc repository.

runc is an open-source project with an open design philosophy. This means that the repository is the source of truth for EVERY aspect of the project, including its philosophy, design, roadmap and APIs. If it's part of the project, it's in the repo. It's in the repo, it's part of the project.

As a result, all decisions can be expressed as changes to the repository. An implementation change is a change to the source code. An API change is a change to the API specification. A philosophy change is a change to the philosophy manifesto. And so on.

All decisions affecting runc, big and small, follow the same 3 steps:

  • Step 1: Open a pull request. Anyone can do this.

  • Step 2: Discuss the pull request. Anyone can do this.

  • Step 3: Accept (LGTM) or refuse a pull request. The relevant maintainers do this (see below "Who decides what?")

I'm a maintainer, should I make pull requests too?

Yes. Nobody should ever push to master directly. All changes should be made through a pull request.

Who decides what?

All decisions are pull requests, and the relevant maintainers make decisions by accepting or refusing the pull request. Review and acceptance by anyone is denoted by adding a comment in the pull request: LGTM. However, only currently listed MAINTAINERS are counted towards the required two LGTMs.

Overall the maintainer system works because of mutual respect across the maintainers of the project. The maintainers trust one another to make decisions in the best interests of the project. Sometimes maintainers can disagree and this is part of a healthy project to represent the point of views of various people. In the case where maintainers cannot find agreement on a specific change the role of a Chief Maintainer comes into play.

The Chief Maintainer for the project is responsible for overall architecture of the project to maintain conceptual integrity. Large decisions and architecture changes should be reviewed by the chief maintainer.
The current chief maintainer for the project is Michael Crosby (@crosbymichael).

Even though the maintainer system is built on trust, if there is a conflict with the chief maintainer on a decision, their decision can be challenged and brought to the technical oversight board if two-thirds of the maintainers vote for an appeal. It is expected that this would be a very exceptional event.

How are maintainers added?

The best maintainers have a vested interest in the project. Maintainers are first and foremost contributors that have shown they are committed to the long term success of the project. Contributors wanting to become maintainers are expected to be deeply involved in contributing code, pull request review, and triage of issues in the project for more than two months.

Just contributing does not make you a maintainer, it is about building trust with the current maintainers of the project and being a person that they can depend on and trust to make decisions in the best interest of the project. The final vote to add a new maintainer should be approved by over 66% of the current maintainers with the chief maintainer having veto power. In case of a veto, conflict resolution rules expressed above apply. The voting period is five business days on the Pull Request to add the new maintainer.

What is expected of maintainers?

Part of a healthy project is to have active maintainers to support the community in contributions and perform tasks to keep the project running. Maintainers are expected to be able to respond in a timely manner if their help is required on specific issues where they are pinged. Being a maintainer is a time consuming commitment and should not be taken lightly.

When a maintainer is unable to perform the required duties they can be removed with a vote by 66% of the current maintainers with the chief maintainer having veto power. The voting period is ten business days. Issues related to a maintainer's performance should be discussed with them among the other maintainers so that they are not surprised by a pull request removing them.