Lyon Firefox 2.0 Party

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This evening, Lyon celebrates the release of Firefox 2.0.

The party starts after 18h, in the Cavern, 11 rue des Trois Mariés – a new pub in the Vieux Lyon run by a Paddy, a Frog and a Canuck. So if you’re in the area, come along, there’s wifi, darts and maybe some beer.

Mozilla marketing (follow-up)

marketing 9 Comments

I got some interesting responses to my post yesterday, most of which missed my point.

Talking about freedom, choice and community does not equate to preaching. Nor does it necessarily equate to talking about Open Source or Free software. When I say we should be talking about freedom & choice, I’m talking about the *user’s* freedom & choice, not the developer’s.

My favourite Firefox Flicks entry was “Daredevil”. Whee was fun, all the ones talking about spyware and privacy or viruses were OK, but the one that got me was the one that concentrated on a value – user freedom.

Think of all the car ads which associate their product with freedom. Even Microsoft use the concept of freedom with their “realize your potential” ad campaign.

Ignoring such a powerful concept, which we *own*, seems to me like suicide. “We’re the nicer browser to use” will work for a while, but one day that may well not be the case (especially since it’s a subjective question, and Microsoft has a bigger marketing budget). And when that day comes, Mozilla will start losing share, unless people have established an emotional link with Firefox.

Are we really not smart enough to come up with a good way to make a free software user feel free? Or to present ourselves as the champions of choice? Is there really no value in trying to make a Firefox user feel like part of a greater community?

"The Message: Practicality and Usability more important than Open Source"

marketing 17 Comments

Mozilla Firefox 2 marketing will focus on functionality and the chase for market share, rather than the fact that it’s free software.

I am not the only one who is disturbed by this strategy. That’s not because I’m a free software zealot, but because I think it’s a losing game.

To win this battle, we need to speak to people’s souls – if we only concentrate on the surface, then Microsoft will win – they will add more functionality, make IE more usable, build a better browser the way they did in 1997 and 1998. Mozilla can always cry the pyrrhic victory – “we restored choice on the internet” – but once their market share starts to go down, they will have lost – because that’s how they’ve chosen to play the game.

If, on the other hand, we concentrate on values that Microsoft don’t have, and can’t compete on, then we will capture hearts, and market share will follow. Freedom, choice, open standards, community – these values will generate passion. Will they disturb some people? Sure. But you can’t win ’em all. An ounce of passion is worth more than a pound of mediocrity.

And the mystery guest is…

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Pour ceux qui ont vu ma présentation la semaine dernière, et qui n’ont pas reconnu le visage (ou qui l’ont reconnu, et qui se sont amusés à voir mon trou de mémoire): Blake Ross.

The GNOME Foundation is hiring

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I announced a couple of days ago the availability of a position working for the GNOME Foundation. It’s an interesting position, I think, and worth explaining a bit further.

The foundation’s director of business development is the person who will generate revenues for the foundation. For the past few years, the foundation’s budget have been languishing around $150,000 to $200,000, which is enough to pay the wages and expenses of the executive director, and to organise GUADEC.

This year, we’ve made some progress, and the accounts for 2005/2006 should be close to $300,000 – thanks to some new advisory board members, a couple of very generous donations, and a very successful sponsorship drive for GUADEC.

This means that we’re able to move from one employee to one and a half – a part-time position to deal with administrative issues, and a full-time position to concentrate on further developing our budget, and managing that budget.

Some of the ideas that I have had for things we could do with more money are:

  • Hire a systems administrator
  • Hire a bugmaster to co-ordinate with downstream distributions
  • Hire a community facilitator to co-ordinate the work of user groups and ensure communication between groups and companies
  • Get GNOME documentation professionally edited and published
  • Invest heavily in GNOME t-shirts, merchandising, posters and hand-out printing for GNOME conference presence

Note that none of these positions generate code – it is my opinion that it’s not appropriate for the GNOME Foundation to hire coders. However, hiring people who help make our coders more productive, and makes our community a nicer place to be, is a good investment.

The types of avenues that I hope our director of bizdev will be exploring are government grants, partnerships with companies using and developing on GNOME, and relationships with public sector organisations worldwide.

The GNOME brand itself isn’t very visible to end-users, but it is of strategic importance to all major desktop distributors, and has a great reputation and a cult following. The director of business development will help us build on that reputation, and will give us the tools necessary to make the GNOME platform great for ISDs, and the desktop great for everyone from the public sector to the free software hacker.

List of things the Foundation has supported/done this year

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A common complaint about the GNOME Foundation and the foundation board is that people really have no idea what kind of foundation-related stuff is going on. Information comes in drips and drabs, and if you link together a series of minutes from the board meetings, you can see an outline of what we’re doing.

Much of what the board does happens on the mailing list, and we haven’t been very good at communicating that kind of activity.

A lot of what happens around the foundation doesn’t even involve the board, but comes from initiatives by foundation members or subcommittees.

So in an attempt to rectify this, here is a rough list of some of the things that the foundation has been involved with over the past year. Some of them might be surprising, others are probably taken for granted. I’m hoping that seeing the list written down will give people a better idea of what we do (which is mostly delegation).

  • GUADEC: support the GUADEC team, provide organisational infrastructure, fundraising (raised over €100,000)
  • Spent €40,000 bringing hackers to Barcelona
  • Foundation administration: Hired Zana Yuen as part-time administrator
  • Supervised Andrew Case’s public service (the first time, to my knowledge, that working on free software has been recognised as public service)
  • Co-funded a Blender/GNOME stand at SIGGRAPH
  • Funded one European and one American event box for conference participation
  • Ensured a presence in a number of free software events around the world
  • Supported local GNOME events around the world
  • Supported travel expenses for participation of GNOME hackers in some events like OSDL desktop architects summit
  • Finally got approval for the GNOME trademark
  • Create a legal working group to avoid the kind of delays we’ve seen handling legal issues in the past
  • Improve the operation of the membership committee, and get some new members on there
  • Increased the advisory board from 7 members to 14, including Nokia, Intel and Canonical
  • Finally have a decent GNOME brand book thanks to Mairin Duffy, and working towards improving GNOME’s community trademark usage guidelines
  • Organise a couple of summits
  • Contract Shaun McCance to write some documentation for ISVs
  • Launch the GNOME Mobile and Embedded initiative
  • Joined a number of new initiatives, including OSDL’s desktop architects, OSSI, the Open Source Consortium and COPU in China
  • Improve frequency and quality of interraction with the advisory board
  • Finally get a handle on the foundation’s finances
  • Establish a budget for marketing
  • Improve financial transparency
  • Start organising local user groups

Not to mention a number of other initiatives which are currently in progress, which were initiated by the foundation, or by the foundation board.

  • Contacted O’Reilly & Associates about the possibility of publishing a GNOME book for ISVs based on existing technical docs
  • Contacted merchandising companies about the creation of a GNOME store (or many GNOME stores)
  • Finally getting the website updated and streamlined
  • Working on a proposal for improved technical governance in the project
  • Initiate hire of foundation director of business development (in progress)

Laptop update

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Thanks to everyone for the advice on the laptops. In the end, I priced a Dell D420 to budget, and went with that because Wengo buy a lot their computers there, so it comes under the support contract (that, and it’s light and fast with lots of RAM yum yum).

Les Journées des Logiciels Libres

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Pourquoi et comment contribuer aux logiciels libres

I was in La Doua on Friday morning at les Journées des Logiciels Libres giving a presentation titled Pourquoi et Comment Contribuer aux Logiciels Libres.

I had great fun preparing and giving the conference, and I hope people enjoyed it. It was a personal journey through my own first contact with free software, and some general advice on keeping one’s sanity over the years, as well as an attempt to explain why we spend so much of our free time doing something that the majority of people just don’t understand.

Being a man of low self-esteem, I would be interested in hearing from anyone who was present (or who watched via streaming) about what they thought of the presentation.

It was the first presentation I’ve done where I used some of the techniques that Guy Kawasaki and Seth Godin use in their presentations – making it visual and participative, using fewer words and more images on slides, concentrating on the “why” than the “what” of what you’re presenting. It’s both more effective and more fun than the “normal” way of concentrating on bullet points, but it also takes a lot more effort.

Laptop purchase

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Joining in the recent trend of people blogging about their laptop purchases, I need advice on hardware.

I’m looking for a laptop in a €1500 budget, which is light, has wifi and ethernet, works perfectly with free software (including projectors), has at least 1GB of RAM, and is fast enough to do some hacking on. I’m not picky.

Any suggestions (in comments or mail)? The D420 Jeff got looks cool, but is a bit over my budget.

Dirk Hondel on GNOME

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On the occasion of the release of Portland v. 1.0, VNUNet digs up a classic quote:

“The KDE guys desperately wanted to look and feel like Windows, and the other guys desperately wanted to make it as hard to use as possible,” said Dirk Hondel at LinuxWorld in San Francisco in August.

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