EDIT: Please see this message:
Where renaming from XMOS Foundation to XCommons Foundation is discussed. The remainder of this post is unchanged.
Each day sees larger fraction of our society's technology infrastructure and commerce becoming influenced by Open Source development. Some of the biggest corporations use and contribute to Open Source software and recommend it to their top-tier clients. The benefits of the Open Source development model to large and small companies, and society as a whole, are well documented .
Predictably, entities in the XMOS community now wish to collaborate to improve the acceptance of XMOS technologies in their various markets. There is a large potential benefit to XMOS from supporting a vibrant developer community, and there is a similar benefit to community members from being able to use well tested code from the community.
The nature of XMOS technology makes it a natural nexus for a diverse range of hardware and software technologies. Metcalfe's Law  is a useful metaphor to describe this space.
When Open Source development is fostered across the boundary between a predominant Company and a community, fears arise on both sides. Contributors from the community want to ensure that the hardware and software designs, code, concepts and implementations that they contribute remain open and free for use by the community. On the other hand, the Company needs to keep its options open, and protect itself from liability and claims related to community contributions that become incorporated in its products.
These are valid concerns, and there exist several very tangible examples of how to solve them. Without quoting specific documents, one can point at large Open Source collaborations sponsored by Yahoo, Facebook, and Google, and smaller projects such as Zope, and the related Plone, both of which have very lively and successful communities, while still on a scale that mere mortals can still comprehend.
A recent thread on xcore.com  extolled the need for an official open code repository, to capture many small contributions from individuals, and foster the emergence of task groups to improve specific areas of source code already opened by XMOS. The discussion touched on xtcp, and usb code, specifically, mentioning quality and performance concerns, and it was clear that several external potential contributors would rally around an open repository, where they have not rallied in the past around unofficial ones.
All of the well known and successful Open Source projects center their existence around functional and tested code in shared repositories. While it is simple to create shared repositories in the public space, for the benefits laid out above to accrue, the network effect that is created by an official repository is crucial.
The same thread touched on an open ticketing system as an important way to exchange information within the community, and help developers outside XMOS understand what issues will or will not be fixed internally, giving them the option of collaborating to produce community contributions, and also preventing duplication of effort. Open ticketing is rife across the Internet, and companies such as Facebook depend on it for rapid feedback and to engage developers.
Recognizing the enormous shift in perspective required on the part of XMOS to successfully engage with a growing community, this MANIFESTO is designed to bootstrap discussion. In itself this may never be perfect document, but that is not the intent. The success of this document will be measured in the extent to which it brings together a community with a shared purpose, and to the degree that a formal organization emerges to meet the needs of all concerned. This document is just the start...
Call to Action
So, now, formally, the members of the XMOS community, including all users or potential users of XMOS technologies, the company XMOS Ltd itself, and its employees and business partners, are hereby invited to participate in the institution of an XMOS Foundation.
All members of the the wider XMOS community, including all users or potential users of XMOS technologies, employees and business partners of XMOS, are invited to participate in the discussion, the empowerment of a pro tem board, the agreement of articles of incorporation, and the holding of an election of officers.
The XMOS Foundation shall represent the interests of the community of users and producers of XMOS technologies, and promote the development of hardware and software designs that help broaden the scope of the XMOS platform, and grow the market for XMOS related products.
In particular to:
- Provide clear, neutral, and sustainable ownership of contributed code.
- Provide a decision-making structure for essential community activities.
- Interface with XMOS, the company, to represent the needs of the Foundation membership.
- Assist XMOS in the transition to greater transparency and openness for the benefit of Foundation members.
As a high-priority, the initial board of directors will take steps to develop a simple yet robust legal framework for ownership of hardware and software source code contributions that protects the rights of all contributors, and encourages collaboration.
The board will immediately foster productive and professional engagement with XMOS Ltd, to determine what role the Foundation can play in the transition to openness.
To take part in the Foundation Discussion, please join the group here: http://groups.google.com/group/xmos-foundation?hl=en
The point of the first goal-bullet is to ensure that, as the XMOS eco-system grows, Foundation members can contribute improvements in the knowledge that they will remain usable by the whole community. This counteracts the fear that would exist both inside and outside the community that if members use code or hardware designs in a product, there may be a legal challenge that would harm their business, by causing expensive lawsuits. Anyone who contributed under this agreement would sign their contributions over in perpetuity to the Foundation, and the foundation would protect the rights of foundation members (and non-members) to use that code without fear of legal issues. This is a lot like the role of the Apache Foundation, Plone Foundation, etc.
The expectation is that the foundation would attempt wherever possible to use existing legal patterns, such as those exemplified by the Apache Foundation, the Plone foundation, etc, to reduce duplication f effort, and maximize effort on such projects as improving the technologies, support for collaboration, supporting new technology ports, improving the standing of this technology in the marketplace, etc.
 This wikipedia article gives a useful history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-source_software