Event Report: Free Software and Linux Days 2018 in Istanbul

Özgür Yazılım ve Linux Günleri 2018 (OYLG18)
Free Software and Linux Days 2018 Banner

I had the pleasure of coordinating GNOME and LibreOffice presence at Özgür Yazılım ve Linux Günleri (Free Software and Linux Days) 2018 in Istanbul, which took place between May 12 – May 13 in Bilgi University’s santralIstanbul campus. Here, I’ll try to share the GNOME part of the picture.

Free Software and Linux Days 2018 (OYLG18) Entrance
A view from the entrance of the event building

I am back at home after the Free Software and Linux Days 2018 in İstanbul. It was a small and cozy event. The number of attendees was lower than the previous years, but on the plus side, we had more time for each visitor. It was also a good opportunity to break the ice between different segments of the Turkish Free Software community.

We had a nice booth, jointly run by GNOME Turkey ad LibreOffice Turkey community members, next to the Pardus booth. We gave out stickers to the visitors, answered their questions about GNOME, LibreOffice, and Free/Libre Software in general. Community members also had a lot of time to chat, and to discuss the current situation and the future of our community in Turkey.

Free Software and Linux Days 2018 (OYLG18) GNOME Booth
GNOME and LibreOffice booths

We also had two GNOME related presentation/seminar sessions:

  • Özgür Yazılımları Türkçe Konuşturmak (Making Free Software Talk Turkish), by Muhammet Kara
  • GNOME Recipe Uygulaması (The GNOME Recipe Application), by Emel Elvin Yıldız

And we now have all materials to set up a complete GNOME booth for any upcoming event in Turkey (thanks to The GNOME Foundation for funding the booth stuff).

Please see the wiki page for more details, photos, and links to related tweets.

Many thanks to all the visitors, attendees, and the organizers of the event! If you’re a GNOME user and you want to help promote it in your local region, consider joining the engagement team.

GStreamer Spring 2018 Hackfest Remarks – author’s note

Had the pleasure to attend the GStramer Spring Hackfest taking place in Lund Sweden May 6 – May 4, here follow some reflections.

There is likely no overstatement that multimedia development is probably one of the more complex areas of software development so to be present while  what must be some of the more competent in the domain hacking was quite an experience.

The atmosphere was intense focused, it almost felt like you could feel vibrations in the air.

Nirbheek and people busy hacking

Considered it good that many of the participants had an affection towards
GNOME (something to be for grateful/appreciative for).

Would be positive to attend a future GSteamer Hackfest.
Thanks to the local company Axis who provided the venue.

*The GNOME/GStreamer relationship is something to care about.
*There is no overstatement that the GStreamer community is a very knowledge & competent group of people which makes the alignment with GNOME valuable.

Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0 Oliver Propst  

Giving Spotlight | Meet Tanu Kaskinen, PulseAudio maintainer

Tanu, CCo

We have this week had the pleasure to interview Tanu Kaskinen about his work as PulseAudio maintainer

Do you want to introduce yourself?

Hello, my name is Tanu Kaskinen and I’m a PulseAudio maintainer (and also involved in the OpenEmbedded project a little bit).  I spent my childhood in Järvenpää, Finland, and moved to Tampere when I started my software engineering studies at Tampere University of Technology. I’ve been living here ever since (13 years, if my calculations are correct).

How did you become involved with PulseAudio and why do you think its’ an important project? 

At a time (2007, I think) I had a MIDI keyboard, and I wanted to play along while listening to music in Rhythmbox. That required running software synthesizers with JACK, but I couldn’t make Rhythmbox work properly with JACK. PulseAudio seemed like the future of desktop audio, and Rhythmbox certainly worked with PulseAudio. There was a PulseAudio module for bridging to JACK, but that was glitchy, so I decided to try to fix it (my first open source code contribution attempt!). In the end my fix was not needed after Lennart rewrote big parts of the PulseAudio core.

Why is PulseAudio important? Well, you need some sound server to manage application streams, be that dmix (in ALSA), JACK or PulseAudio. Having an intermediary between the applications and the kernel is required for a lot of flexibility that people expect from their systems.

What are some of the challenges about maintaining PulseAudio? 

I guess all projects have their set of difficult bugs… In case of PulseAudio, hardware specific issues are quite common. Not having the hardware yourself is of course one problem when debugging, but even if the issue can be tracked down to a clear misbehaviour in the kernel driver, the bug may be left unfixed, because I have never learned to work with kernel code, and the ALSA developers may ignore the bug report (I don’t really blame them, I believe ALSA is understaffed too).

Any interesting features that are being worked on right now?

Nothing earth-shattering comes to mind, but here are things that I’m personally excited about: Georg Chini has been working on a long-standing bluetooth bug about bad A/V sync when watching videos.  

I believe the Intel HDMI LPE hardware is becoming pretty widespread on new computers, and the kernel driver for that has certain unusual behaviour that makes PulseAudio enter an infinite loop when the HDMI cable is not plugged in. I’m happy that it will be fixed in the upcoming release.

There have been various small tweaks to automatic routing in recent releases, and those are going to continue. 

What keeps you involved in the PulseAudio community?

I feel a need to do something useful with my life, and maintaining PulseAudio fills that need quite nicely. It’s not always fun, but it’s not so un-fun either that I would feel compelled to quit. PulseAudio has been a significant part of my life for some 10 years, and at this point it’s a pretty big part of my identity.

Can you describe PulseAudio’s role/relevance in a desktop environment such as GNOME?

GNOME tries to make a computer easy to use, and things should “just work”. PulseAudio plays a big role in that when it comes to audio. Also, if the GNOME user interface designers or developers have a vision for how e.g. audio settings should be presented, they have to work within the capabilities of the sound server.

Are you yourself a GNOME user?

Yes I am! I started using Linux when Debian Woody was current, probably in 2003. I don’t remember how I initially chose GNOME, maybe just because it was the default? I’ve sticked with Debian and GNOME pretty much all this time .

Why are you doing a fundraiser?

Because I don’t want a real job :) I like having complete control over how I spend my time, and even if I didn’t feel so strongly about that, not many companies are willing to pay just for PulseAudio maintenance anyway. (Perhaps the number of such companies is even zero, but to be honest I haven’t tried reaching out to Red Hat or similar.)
In 2015 I found myself having enough savings to last at least a few years if I quit from my day job, and so I did. I wanted to spend more time on PulseAudio, because there was a shortage of maintainer resources in the project . In 2016 I launched the Patreon campaign to slow down the rate at which my savings are drained, and this year I started a similar campaign on Liberapay.

Questions for fun 

What is your favorite place on Earth?

Well, there’s a certain quiet spot on the shore of the Näsijärvi lake not too far from where I live. During summertime I sometimes go there to watch the sunset.

Favorite cake?

Hmm, I haven’t pondered this before, but I think the answer is the Swiss roll. Ideally with whipped cream and banana inside. I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten such Swiss roll, but I imagine that would be the optimal filling.

Thanks Tanu for taking time talking with us we wish you continued luck in your efforts!

Mid-June nigth in Tampere. CC0 Tanu Kaskinen

Consider support Tanu through his Patreon or Liberapay campaigns.

Giving spotlight | 3.28 Release Party Report from China

To celebrate the successfully held GNOME Asia Summit 2017 in Chongqing, the Linux Story community saw the 3.28 release as a chance to promote GNOME and Open Source in China.

With its influence in many major cities of China, Linux Story called upon open source enthusiasts to gather in their local cities to hold a 10 cities get-together event to celebrate the new GNOME release.

A set of pictures from the events with pictures follow here to enjoy (received from Linux Story).

In Xian, a speech titled “A Brief History of GNOME” was presented, the presenter Ckj then showed new features of GNOME 3.28
In Guangzhou, the party started with a demonstration of GNOME 3.28. Later Mr Li Ruibin, an experienced Linux user helped explain issues people face when using Linux and then introduced people to Flatpak.
In Beijing, the party did not only offer a GNONME 3.28 demonstration, but also delicious pizzas by sponsors like SUSE and ZhongBiao Software.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Yangzhou and in Shanghai the spotlight was on GNOME 3.28 demonstrations and the excitement was very high.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An excitement exciting gathering happened in the Mozilla sponsored community office place in Taiwan where apart from a demonstration of GNOME 3.28 Mr Zeng Zhengjia a local Translator shared a lot of his experience with translating earlier versions of GNOME. The picture tells a lot about the atmosphere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We want to thank the Linux Story community for the initiative and wish them luck in their continued efforts. Initiatives like this are great to see.

Giving Spotlight | Meet Øyvind Kolås, GEGL maintainer extraordinaire

Last month, we had the pleasure of interviewing Øyvind Kolås, aka “pippin,” about his work on GEGL — a fundamental technology enabling GIMP and GNOME Photos.

GIMP Stickers, CC-BY-SA Michael Natterer

This interview is part of a “Giving Spotlight” series we are doing on some long-time GNOME contributors who have fundraising campaigns. The goal is to help GNOME users understand the importance of the technologies, get to know the maintainers, and learn how to support them.

Without further ado, we invite you to get to know Øyvind and his work on GEGL!


The following interview was conducted over email. 

Getting to know Øyvind

Where are you from and where are you based?

I’m from the town of Ørsta – in the end of a fjord in Norway, but since high-school I’ve been quite migratory. Studying fine art in Oslo and Spain, color science research at a color lab and lecturing multimedia CD-ROM authoring in south-eastern Norway, and working on GNOME technologies like Clutter and cairo for Opened Hand and Intel in London, followed by half a decade of low-budget backpacking. At the moment I am based in Norway – and try to keep in touch with a few people and places – among others England, Germany, and Spain.

Øyvind “pippin” Kolås, CC BY-NC-ND Ross Burton

What do you do and how does it relate to GNOME?

I like tinkering with code – frequently code that involves graphics or UI. This results in sometimes useful, at other times odd, but perhaps interesting, tools, infrastructure, or other software artifacts. Through the years and combined with other interests, this has resulted in contributions to cairo and Clutter, as well as being the maintainer of babl and GEGL, which provide pixel handling and processing machinery for GIMP 2.9, 2.10 and beyond.

How did you first get involved in GNOME?

I attended the second GUADEC which happend in Copenhagen in 2001. This was my first in-person meeting with the people behind nicknames in #gimp as well as meeting in-person GIMP developers and power users, and the wider community around it including the GNOME project.

Why is your fundraising campaign important?

I want GIMP to improve and continue being relevant in the future, as well as
having a powerful graph-based framework for other imaging tasks. I hope that my continued maintainership of babl/GEGL will enable many new and significant workflows in GIMP and related software, as well as provide a foundation for implementing and distributing experimental image processing filters.

Wilber Week 2017, a hackathon for GEGL and GIMP, CC-BY-SA Debarshi Ray

Getting to know GEGL

How did your project originate?

GEGL’s history starts in 1997 with Rythm and Hues studios, a Californian visual effects and animation company. They were experimenting with a 16bit/high bit depth fork of GIMP known as filmgimp/cinepaint. Rythm and Hues succeeded in making GIMP work on high bit depth images, but the internal architecture was found to be lacking – and they started GEGL as a more solid future basis for high bit depth non-destructive editing in GIMP. Their funding/management interest waned, and GEGL development went dormant. GIMP however continued considering GEGL to be its future core.

How did you start working on GEGL?

I’ve been making and using graphics-related software since the early ’90s. In 2003-2004 I made a video editor for my own use in a hobby collaboration music video/short film venture. This video editing project was discontinued and salvaged for spare parts, like babl and a large set of initial operations when I took up maintainership and development of GEGL.

What are some of the greatest challenges that you’ve faced along the way?

When people get to know that I am somehow involved in development of the GIMP project, they expect me to be in control of and responsible for how the UI currently is. I have removed some GIMP menu items in attempts to clean things up and reduce technical debt, but most improvements I can take credit for now, and in the future, are indirect, like how moving to GEGL enables higher bit depths and on-canvas preview instead of using postage stamp-sized previews in dialogs.

What are some of your greatest successes?

Bringing GEGL from a duke-nukem-forever state, where GIMP was waiting on GEGL for all future enhancements, to GEGL waiting for GIMP to adopt it. The current development series of GIMP (2.9.x) is close to be released as 2.10 which will be the new stable; it is a featureful version with feature parity with 2.8 but a new engine under the hood. I am looking forward to seeing where GIMP will take GEGL in the future.

What are you working on right now?

One of the things I am working on – and playing with – at the moment is experiments in color separation. I’m making algorithms that simulate the color mixing behavior of inks and paints. That might be useful in programs like GIMP for tasks ranging from soft-proofing spot-colors to preparing photos or designs for multi-color silk-screening, for instance for textiles.

Which projects depend on your project? What’s the impact so far?

There are GIMP and GNOME Photos, as well as imgflo, which is a visual front-end provided by the visual programming environment noflo. GEGL (and babl, a companion library), are designed to be generally useful and do not have any APIs that could only be considered useful for GIMP. GEGL itself also contains various example and experimental command line and graphical interfaces for image and video processing.

How can I get involved? 

GEGL continues needing, and thankfully getting, contributions, new filters, fixes to old filters, improvements to infrastructure, improved translations, and documentation. Making more projects use GEGL is also a good way of attracting more contributors. With funds raised through Liberapay and Patreon, I find it easier to allocate time and energy towards making the contribution experience of others smoother.

And now a few questions just for fun…

What is your favorite place on Earth?

Tricky, I have traveled a lot and not found a single place that is a definitive favorite. Places I’ve found to be to my liking are near the equator and have little seasonal variation, as well as are sufficiently high altitude to cool down to a comfortable day high temperature of roughly 25 degrees Celsius.

Favorite ice cream?

Could I have two scoops in a waffle cone, one mango sorbet, one coconut please? :)

Finally, our classic question: what do you think cats dream about?

Some cats probably dream about being able to sneak through walls.

Øyvind Kolås, CC BY-NC-ND Ross Burton

 

 

Thank you, Øyvind, for your answers. We look forward to seeing your upcoming work on GEGL this year and beyond!


Please consider supporting Øyvind through his GEGL Liberapay or GEGL Patreon campaigns. 

Thank You, 2017 Newcomers!

As the calendar year comes to an end, we’d like to thank everyone who contributed for the first time to a new project at GNOME. The list below includes people who made their first commit, contribution, or joined a GNOME global team.

Please join us in thanking these excellent newcomers!

Design Team

Kate Lassalle-Klein
Tobias Bernard

Engagement Team

Anna Yin
Biraj Karmaker
Julian Sparber
Michael Hall
Neil McGovern
Shirley
Umang Jain
Yunfeng He (Jim)

Builder

Anoop Chandu
Georg Vienna
Kritarth
Lucie Dvorakova
namanyadav12
Xiang Fan

Calendar

Abdullahi Usman
Abishek
Andrei Ceapa
Carlo Lobrano
George Willian Condomitti
Jente Hidskes
Joyjit Choudhury
Nidhi Gupta
Novi-Novi
Orkun Tezer
Valentin Negoescu
Yash Singh

Files (Nautilus)

Adrian Zatreanu
Cristian Nancu
Diana Grecu
Eduard Čuba
Evgeny Shulgin
Horia Ion
Jan Tojnar
Kartikeya Sharma
Robert Stanca
Tiberiu Lepadatu
Vyas Giridharan
Waqar Ahmed

Games

Mateusz Sieczko
Radhika Dua
RoubyPA

Maps

Anup Agarwal
Nayan Deshmukh
RyuzakiKK

Music

Abhinav Singh
Jean Felder
Sambhav Kothari
Suyash Garg

Photos

Ankriti Sachan
Kartikeya Sharma
Katarina Gresova
Rashi Sah
Saksham Bhalla
Scott Cohen
Shivam Tripathi

Polari

Alexander Alzate Olaya
Augusto Cesar
Mjash
Justyn Temme
Zandr Martin

Recipes

Ekta Nandwani
Paxana Amanda Xander

Todo

Aeden McClain
Denis Ollier
Evgeny Shulgin
Jens Sauer
Kevin Lopez
Linus Probert
Rohit Kaushik
Utkarsh
Zack Lofgren

If you’re interested in making your first contribution to GNOME, we welcome you to join us! Here are some resources:

Thank you again to everyone who participated in GNOME, oldcomers and newcomers alike. GNOME exists because of you. Thanks for making 2017 another great year!

Celebrate GNOME with a Release Party

GNOME 3.26 is almost here! A new GNOME release is a milestone worth celebrating and is a great reason to get together with other GNOME community members.

Is there already a release party in your area? If there is, we encourage you to join. Release Parties are open to all GNOME enthusiasts. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet other GNOME users.

But what if there isn’t one planned near enough for you attend? Don’t worry, you can plan your own!

A release party can be as simple or elaborate as you want it to be; anything from getting a group together for celebratory drinks to a big event with decorations, food, and swag.

Some quick tips on organizing your own party:

  • Have a rough estimate of the number of guests. While release parties tend to be open to anyone, it’s a good idea to take a quick measure of who might be attending. Send a note on social media or local mailing lists asking who is interested.
  • Have swag! If you have time and inclination, having GNOME stickers or other swag to give out is always popular. You can always request stickers from a GNOME SWAG center near you.
  • Have provisions! No party is complete without food. It can be something you provide, a potluck, or even a restaurant where guests can purchase food. Whether you’re a foundation member or not, you can request funding for your party by following the steps on the Events page.
  • Select a time and location. Knowing what kind of party you are planning should help you decide on a location. Is there a local coffee house that would let you host your event if people plan on purchasing food and drink there? Or if it is a smaller group, maybe a local bar. For a larger group, consider a local park or a room in the local community center.
  • Announce your bash. Let others know about your event by announcing it to the local user groups, posting it on social media, and adding it to the Events page. Have fellow enthusiasts help spread the word.
  • Take lots of pictures! Everyone loves to see what fun release parties can be. Make sure you take pictures of the party in action and share your photos with GNOME so we can share them among the community.
  • Pat yourself on the back. Thank you! You are helping cultivate the feeling of community that GNOME relies on.

Iulian Radu: GSoC student and GNOME Ambassador

Iulian Radu is in his final year at the University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest, and he has been involved in his oncampus open source community. Over the last couple of years, he has brought GNOME to his campus, and generated interest around encouraging other students to get involved in GNOME, contribute, and even apply for GSoC. Read on to learn about his experience in getting involved and spreading GNOME to his university in Romania!

Julian
Courtesy of Iulian Radu

Where are you from and where are you based now?
I’m from Romania and living there now.

How long have you been contributing to GNOME?
I made my first contribution 2 years ago during the summer and it was for Iagno. 

How did you first hear about GNOME and become a user?
I was a user before I became a contributor. The first time I heard of GNOME was in university, and we had a course where we had a slide with different logos. We had to name those logos, which were all open source and Linux related. Soon after that I got to use Linux in my university classes; it was used and required almost everywhere, classes and homework. I got it installed for the first time during Linux Install Fest, an event where the community (students, teachers) helps first year students, and anyone interested, install Linux on their personal computer.

We know this year isn’t your first year with GSoC, how did you first get involved?
Yeah, my first year with GSoC was in 2015. I heard of it in university when my teacher and some colleagues a year above me told me about it. I actually tried applying in 2014 as well but the steps were not that clear at the time. I was under the impression that it was way too complicated for me and I just gave up on the idea. The next year, in 2015, I just asked around more and it was really different. Everyone was really supportive and everything made sense; I didn’t have many problems getting accepted. Then this year, in 2016, I already knew what I had to do and everything went smoothly. 

What motivated you to join for a second year?
I was in between deciding whether to do GSoC again and getting a job at a company to experience office life, working in a team, and participate in meetings. Michael, my 2015 GSoC mentor, told me he wanted to be a mentor again and said he had a project on Epiphany for me. It sounded really interesting, so I applied again to GSoC.

What has been your project with Google Summer of Code?
My project was “Web: Bookmarks Subsystem Update. I basically had to redo the bookmarks system in GNOME Web and I kind of started from scratch because the code was old. 

Interns GUADEC 2016
GSoC and Outreachy 2016 Interns, Photo by Bin Li, CC-BY-SA 4.0

You’re very active within your community, especially when it comes to planning events. What exactly is it that you have done?
I’m active within the open source community at my university. There’s a non-profit organization called ROSEdu (Romanian Open Source Education). That’s how I got into open source. They organize workshops, summer schools, mentor programs, and more. My first contribution was to an open source browser game organized at our school; a platform with questions related to linux designed for the first year introductory course to operating systems. You can play the game and learn more about the subjects studied throughout the course. I became a core contributor after a while then I applied to be part of the organization. I started helping out by mentoring students at  different workshops and events they organize.. During those events we always talk about what we are working on and share our experience so I helped spread the word about GNOME (as I was also contributing to it during those times). Razvan, another GSoC student that worked on Nautilus, was one of the first that got really interested and asked me to give him directions. Then there was Gabriel, whom I helped with his first contribution and application process.  There were also multiple students that started to seek me out to learn more about GSoC and my GNOME experience to whom I have offered help based on the intereset they showed.  A community around GSoC already existed, but I helped with bringing GNOME to the campus and now we have a small community. Every now and then we get together to work on our projects, and I’d like to invite more people to join us in the future. 

What are some challenges you have faced in planning events and unifying your local community?
The main challenge is keeping people interested. They usually become quite curious when you start telling them about the community, your work and your experiences, but they lose interest when they try to make their first contributions and realize that some things take longer than they initially expected. As the students that are reaching out are usually at the start of their open source experience, it’s even harder for them as they need to become used to different means of communicating (IRC, mailling lists), version control systems, bug trackers etc.

Iulian
Courtesy of Iulian Radu
What is your favorite place on Earth?
My favorite place would be a cabin in a forest with fresh air and a nearby river. But there has to be a laptop and WiFi! 

What is your favorite food?
Grilled food, probably a grilled steak. Nothing too special!

Favorite ice cream?
Anything with chocolate icing.

Last question… What is your spirit animal?
I guess it’s a panda, because I’m a bit clumsy and lazy!

If you’re interested in learning more about Google Summer of Code and submitting an application for Summer of 2017 check out their website here: https://developers.google.com/open-source/gsoc/
And if you’re interested in learning more about GNOME Bucharest, or getting involved with GNOME in Romania, get in touch with Iulian and his colleagues via…
IRC: #gnome-bucharest on GIMPNet
Wiki: https://wiki.gnome.org/GnomeBucharest
Thank you Iulian for answering all of our questions. We’re really looking forward to seeing how this local group grows!

GUADEC from a Newcomer’s Perspective: Meet Tom Pollok

This August, as you all know, was GUADEC. This year the annual European conference was held in Karlsruhe, a city in Southwest Germany. Much of the city’s culture revolves around KIT, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, whose campus hosted the conference. Not only did the conference attract GNOME contributors from around the world, but it also brought in newcomers who have been GNOME users, but had never contributed. During the BoF days, we sat down with a long time GNOME user, Tom Pollok, who shared with us his experience of coming to GUADEC as a complete newcomer. Read on to hear his story!

tom
Photo by Cassandra Sanchez, CC-BY-SA 4.0

Where are you from and where are you based now?
That’s complicated *laughs*, I was born in Poland but most of my life I have lived in Germany. I’ve have mostly lived in Karlsruhe but also spent a couple of years in Berlin.

How did you hear about GNOME?
When I started studying computer science, I was more interested in Linux, and one thing came after another. I used to use Windows before I started studying computer science, and I started trying out GNOME. I was studying in Cairo for a semester and my hard drive suddenly broke while working on my laptop. No one could give me an ISO file of Windows, so I thought to install Ubuntu since it was free. I started to use Ubuntu with GNOME. I had heard about it in my first semester, a while before.

How long have you been a contributor?
I contributed the first time during this GUADEC during the workshops.

What was it like to experience GUADEC as a newcomer?
It was very nice. All the people are so friendly and so into GNOME. You can see it in their eyes that they really like what they’re doing. I’ve really liked the GUADEC spirit! 

Was there anything that surprised you about the conference?
I’ve been to other computer science related conferences, and compared to others I’ve felt especially welcomed here. At others I have felt not noticed, but here everyone has talked to me and it’s been very easy to talk to people and make new friends! And I was suprirsed that everyone spoke such great English! Everyone’s English is amazing!

Was there anything you were expecting or hoping for?
I haven’t had any expectations, I just wanted to see it. I really liked it, so I think I’ll join the next conference as well!

How did you hear of GUADEC and decide to come?
I was very active on the GNOME website and always reading the recent changes. I saw that GUADEC would be in Karlsruhe and knew I shouldn’t miss it! I really wanted to meet the people who developed GNOME and knew it would be a shame if I missed it. I was just lucky to find it!

What was your favorite part about the conference?
I don’t think there was anything specific, I’ve liked the whole package! I’ve enjoyed all of GUADEC.

28774493630_d9e049fae7_o
GUADEC 2016, CC-BY-SA 4.0

What is your favorite place on Earth?
I really love Cairo because the people are so friendly!

What is your favorite food?
Hmmm… Do I even have one? *laughs* 
Käsespätzle??
No, no! Come on! *Laughs* I don’t have a favorite dish, but I like Arabic dishes and Northern Arabic dishes. I guess I’ll say Koshary.

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
I always ask for two or three, so I’ll say chocolate, mango, and cherry. There is such a great choice of different flavors so it’s not that easy to decide for a single one

What is your spirit animal?
I’m like a Rhino, because if I want to do something and it doesn’t work I’ll ram against the wall until it I find a way through it! I’m sometimes a bit stubborn when I’m working on a goal.

Finally, our classic question; what do you think cats dream about?
I think they dream of dominating the world!

Thank you, Tom! We’re so glad to see you contributing and becoming a part of the GNOME community.

Meet the 2016 Pants Winner – Alex Larsson

Every year at GUADEC, the Board of Directors presents the prestigious Pants award. It recognizes a GNOME contributor who has made significant contributions and who has really embodied the GNOME spirit. Among recipients are Emily Chen, Alexandre Franke, and Allan Day, the three most recent winners. This year, the Pants were presented to Alex Larsson, who was recognized for contributing since 1998 to a number of technologies, being the “fixer” who always gets to the root of a problem, and his invovlemt with GTK, GDK, the old GDM greeter, hidpi support, Nautilus, Spice, GIO, and Flatpak. We sat down with him shortly after the announcement was made, to learn a bit more about him.

Where are you from and where are you based now?

Alex Larsson
Photo taken by Cassandra Sanchez, CC-BY-SA 4.0
I’m from Sweden, born in Stockholm and I live there now. I spent a year in North Carolina during my first year at Red Hat in 2001.

How long have you been contributing to GNOME?
My first contribution was in 1998 to Dia.

How did you first get involved in contributing?
I wrote that app because I needed it for school. It’s a diagram app that I needed in university and there wasn’t anything like it. Plus, I wanted to learn GTK and toolkit programming.

We know you’ve worked on a lot of different important projects. You have made a lot of important changes. We’re wondering how you decide what to work on.
I just work on what I think is interesting. Curiosity, interests, also bug reports and requests from customers or the general public. Actually, I mostly see feature requests coming in from bug reports. I have a huge backlog of things I know we need to fix.

You were the developer of Nautilus for 8 years and wrote a lot of code for it. What made you switch from Nautilus to now working on Flatpak?
I maintained Nautilus for a long time, and it was using gnome-vfs and that was problematic, so I spent some time writing GIO and GVfs to replace it. After that I moved to Spice, a protocol for connecting to VMs, because it needed a tech lead. I was on that for 2 years, and I worked on various aspects of it. After that I did mostly GTK, but I’ve had a long history of interest in bundling stuff. That led me to be one of the Red Hat developers working on Docker. Docker was becoming very popular and we needed it to work for Red Hat. All this experience working on the Docker infrastructure inspired my work on Flatpak, and that’s why I chose that time to prioritize the project. I had been experimenting with three other bundling systems before, but they had always been prototypes.

This is the very early beginning of Flatpak, how do you see it evolving in terms of features?
I think the core doesn’t necesarily have to be that much larger, and it’s more about evolving the infrastructure around it. The application store, developer portal, making it easier to build and distribute flatpaks, and eventually include some sort of donation/payment system. I think we also need more work on portals, but the basic core is good enough. Obviously there will be bugs and minor changes, but I don’t expect anything huge.

What’s next after Flatpak?
I am interested in Emmanuele‘s work on the scene graph. I’m reviewing that and looking at it a bit, but I’m focusing on Flatpak for the forseeable future. 

Alex Larsson 2
Photo taken by Bin Li, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

What has been keeping you at Red Hat for the last 15 years?
It’s just a great place to work. I get to work on what I love, and I have the freedom to choose what to work on. And there’s not a lot of bullshit.

How do you see the interaction between companies like Red Hat and GNOME?
Historically we had more companies involved, and I wish we had more again, to have more opinions and more resources in general. The ones we have now though are interacting quite well with the community. There was a time in the early 2000s when there was more corporate interest, but now desktops don’t have as much interest, it’s more about mobile. I‘d like to see more companies investing in the desktop.

Alex Larsson Pants
Photo Taken by Rosanna Yuen, CC-BY-SA 4.0

What do you think about having won the Pants award? The Pants award is quite prestigious and now you’re part of a sort of hall of fame!

I was really glad to get the pants, but I haven’t really thought about it much. It was moving and I’ve seen people getting them over the years, so it shows that there’s interest in what I’m doing. It means I’m doing the right thing.

We hear you play pokemon GO! What team are you on? 
Team blue, of course!

What is your favorite place on Earth?
Home.

What is your favorite food?
Beef and french fries are good! 

What is your spirit animal?
It would probably be a cat. I’m a cat person. Right now I have 2 cats, but I’ve had cats my whole life, more or less.

Finally, our classic and important question; what do you think cats dream about?
I’d say they’re chasing something. My cats are not chasing mice, I can tell you that! So I’d say they’re chasing toys probably. 

Thank you, Alex, for spending time answering our questions. And, once again, congratulations on being the 2016 Pants winner!
 
Catch Alex talking more about Flatpak at LAS GNOME this September 19th in Portland, Oregon! Find out more on: las.gnome.org