Friends of GNOME Update March 2020

Welcome to the Friends of GNOME Update, March 2020 edition! We have some exciting things in the works and a shiny new GNOME release.

A photo of six people standing behind a table with a blue GNOME table cloth.
Photo courtesy of Sri Ramkrishna. CC-BY-SA

GNOME on the Road

We went to SCaLE! We had a booth, including Foundation staff Caroline Henriksen, Melissa Wu, Neil McGovern, and Rosanna Yuen. We got to talk with great, excited people out there in the free and open source community about GNOME and all the other things we’re working on. We also had a GNOME Beers event and headed out for an evening with some of our GNOMEies and their friends.

Pan African GNOME Summit

The Pan African GNOME Summit is on for March 27 in Port Harcourt, Nigeria! From 09:00 until 14:00, you can learn about and celebrate GNOME with contributors, enthusiasts, and some remotely participating Foundation staff.

GUADEC

GUADEC 2020 is moving forward! We are still planning on meeting in Zacatecas, Mexico July 22 – 28. However, we are paying attention to the development of COVID-19, and will be making contingency plans for a remote conference.

The call for abstracts is open. We’ll be holding CFP office hours on March 20 at 15:00 UTC! You can join us on Rocketchat to talk about your proposals – whether you just have an idea you’re uncertain about or have a proposal ready that you want an extra set of eyes to review, we’re here for you.

Community Engagement Challenge

Our team is working hard on the Community Education Challenge – formerly known as the Coding Education Challenge. You can sign up for updates, or just continue watching the web page.

Want to help spread the word? Here are flyers you can share!

GTK

The new GTK web site is live! Thank you so much to everyone who worked on it!

A lot has been going on with GTK, including a hackfest that was focused on, among other things, accessibility.

GNOME 3.36 Released

We are excited to share that GNOME 3.36 (Gresik) was released on March 11! A huge thank you to everyone who worked on it and made this happen.

Thank you!

As always, thank you for supporting GNOME, in whatever ways you do! If you aren’t already a Friend of GNOME, please consider becoming one t help further our work.

Why we need a free desktop

This post was written by Neil McGovern, Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation.

A photo of Neil McGovern, Ecexutive Director of the GNOME Foundation in August 2019. He is wearing a suit. Behind him is a sign that says "GUADEC" and "Private Internet Access."
Photo courtesy of Richard Brown. Licensed CC-BY-NC.

I am frequently asked if there’s any point in the desktop anymore. With the rise of cloud services, it’s easy to wonder whether there is a need. I believe that a free software desktop system is more important than ever.

GNOME creates an entire desktop environment that is beautifully designed and simple to use. We do this to ensure user freedoms. It is this empowerment of end users – acknowledging their right to control their own computing – that drives me forward.

The intention behind making free software is important, but irrelevant if the reality is that users cannot make use of those freedoms. When fewer than 0.5% of the world’s population can code, the chance of someone being able to modify their own desktop, or pay someone to do so, is vanishingly small. It is our responsibility, as technologists, a community, and a foundation, to provide to put the user first. Software must be built for everyone, and that’s what we are doing.

It is not enough for software to be free of charge, or even available under an open source license, if your data is being sent to third parties in attempts at monetization. It’s not enough if it is still necessary to have a fast, expensive internet connection to get the latest upgrades or access to files. It’s not enough if you need accessibility features that are under developed or unavailable. We see these situations as unacceptable and are working to change them.

Over the last year, we’ve grown from two full time, and one part time, employees to seven. Two more will be joining us shortly. This is to provide the support to enable the GNOME desktop to be what we need it to be. We will be launching a renewed focus on accessibility. We’re introducing out Coding Education Challenge – to make it easier for people to contribute to GNOME and free and open source software, regardless of background. We will do all of this while driving innovation and continuing to update our software based on solid user testing.

To do this, we need your help. We rely on individual donors to help support us. Help us bring the user freedoms to millions more people by joining Friends of GNOME today.

We recommend a donation of $25/month ($5/month for students). These donations support our staff, programs, and the ongoing development of the GNOME desktop environment and other software in the GNOME ecosystem.

With your help and support we’ll continue to develop world class free software and bring user freedom into the hands of every user.

ATK, GTK, and plans for 2020

The GNOME Project is built by a vibrant community and supported by the GNOME Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity registered in California (USA). The GNOME community has spent more than 20 years creating a desktop environment designed for the user. We‘re asking you to become Friend of GNOME, with a recommended donation of $25/month ($5/month for students). We’re working to have 100 new Friends of GNOME join by January 6, 2020.

GNOME is about so much more than a desktop environment. In addition to the eponymous GNOME desktop, we work on projects like GStreamer, GTK, and Flatpak. We have a mostly complete list of technologies you can read on our web site. While the Foundation largely works on support, we also do development and outreach for GTK and GNOME core application development platform.

A group of people around a conference room table, covered in things. Everyone is smiling.
West Coast Hackfest 2019

In addition to routine, and some not so routine, fixes, Emmanuele Bassi, GTK Core Developer, led development initiatives across the GNOME ecosystem. A far from complete list of work includes:

  • reliability and usability of continuous integration (CI) for Glib and GTK;
  • completed constraints layout work for GTK4;
  • progress on the animation framework API for GTK, a necessary step for the GTK 4 release; and
  • reviewing contributions and closing of numerous bugs.

Emmanuele mentored Ravgeet Dhillon in Google Summer of Code working on updates to the GTK web site. Additionally, Xiang Fan worked on GTK 4 Rust bindings.

Additionally, Emmanuele worked on the migration of the various GTK mailing lists to the new Discourse support forum.

We are already working on projects for 2020. Notably, there will be a hackfest in Brussels before FOSDEM, focused on GTK4, serving as a checkpoint for the 2020 release and accessibility (a11y).

A11y work is very important to us at the GNOME Foundation. We believe software needs to be for everyone, which means it needs to work for people who have physical disabilities, including those who are blind. In general, we plan to do a major a11y overhaul in 2020, focusing on developing our Accessibility Tool Kit (ATK). We are auditing what exists right now, and are currently seeking expert help with this. We hope to partner with other projects, to come together to create a11y support that rivals that of proprietary options.

In order to push these projects forward, we need your help. Please consider becoming a Friend of GNOME in order to support our work on new accessibility development, community building around a11y, and getting GTK 4 out the door.

Keeping the (server) lights on

The GNOME project is built by a vibrant community and supported by the GNOME Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity registered in California (USA). The GNOME community has spent more than 20 years creating a free desktop environment designed for the user. We‘re asking you to join us by becoming Friend of GNOME.

The GNOME Foundation manages the technical infrastructure powering GNOME projects. Our Infrastructure Team is led by Andrea Veri and also includes Bartłomiej Piotrowski, working in devops and systems engineering. While Andrea has been with the Foundation for some time, Bart was hired in 2019.

A dark server room, filled with computer stacks emitting eerie blue and green light.
Photo by The National Archives (UK) is licensed under a CC-BY 3.0 License.

Building and maintaining infrastructure for the GNOME project is one of the many activities of the GNOME Foundation, and it’s one of the most important. Building software like the GNOME desktop environment requires a lot of technical support, including managing servers and providing collaboration tools. Since GNOME is focused on being a self-sustaining community, we look as much as possible to managing our own services and software, and making sure it is free and open source.

The GNOME Infrastructure Team currently supports a total of 34 virtual machines hosted on a total of eight bare metal nodes. These virtual machines allow us to run services like the Openshift Container Platform (OSCP), which provides self-service access to the community to run any of their workflows on an automated and containarized fashion.

GNOME is build using self-hosted FOSS. We collaboratively build GNOME using a GitLab instance, which has a total of 15k accounts. We do shared storage using NextCloud. Community discussion is handled over Mailman, Discourse, and MoinMoin. We are currently using Indico and Connfa for our event planning and management.

There are other community-focused services as well, including:

    • internationalization services including localized home pages and translation toolings;
    • mail services for staff and community members;
    • staff mail endpoint for all the GNOME employees and contractors to store their mails on a supported hosting;
    • an IDM solution with more than 2.5k accounts, mirroring infrastructure for the GNOME sources to be available to a place that is closest to where you live for fastest download speeds;
    • Cachet for a dynamically updated Infrastructure Status page; and
    • a Surveys system and several app migrations from virtual machines into containers with a major improvement over maintainability, performance and budget that allowed us to retire unnecessary hypervisors and reduce the costs for the hardware renewals; and
    • a list of tools we offer to the community that keeps increasing year over year.

Additionally, the GNOME builders for the CI/CD processes were fully automated allowing the team to save time putting the system into service whenever a new builder is being donated to the GNOME Foundation.

We have a lot planned for the future. In particular we‘ll be focusing on migrating additional virtual machines into containers on OSCP. The idea is to consolidate and simplify the existing infrastructure even further to reduce maintenance and costs but at the same time offer the community the toolings they need in order for the GNOME Project to be successful as a whole.

We’re asking you to help us to help make the GNOME Project successful becoming a Friend of GNOME. By supporting the Foundation, you’re helping us to provide these necessary resources to the GNOME community, as well as expand our offerings to better meet the growing needs of the Project.

Everything the GNOME Foundation does is for the GNOME community. By supporting us, you’re supporting a global community looking to serve everyone, regardless of geography or language. Join us in working towards a brighter future for GNOME by becoming a Friend of GNOME today.

GNOME programs go global

The GNOME project is built by a vibrant community and supported by the GNOME Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity registered in California (USA). The GNOME community has spent more than 20 years creating a desktop environment designed for the user. We‘re asking you to join us by becoming Friend of GNOME.

The GNOME community hosts numerous hackfests, meetings, workshops, and first time contributor events around the world. We also host two very special events: GUADEC and GNOME.Asia. These two conferences are for GNOME contributors, enthusiasts, and the GNOME curious together twice a year on two different continents. Over the past few years, we have also organized Linux Application Summit (LAS) with the KDE community.

Every year, GUADEC (GNOME’s biggest annual conference) brings together developers, designers, users, and other experts and enthusiasts for a week of talks, workshops, roundtables, team building, and more. GUADEC is one of the most important events for the GNOME community, giving us an unparalleled opportunity to push the project forward. GUADEC 2019 was no exception. Taking place in the beautiful city of Thessaloniki, Greece from 23 – 28 of August, we had conversations on a variety of topics and a splendid range of presentations, many of which are available online.

A photo of ten people on a stage. Many of them are smiling.

GUADEC not only offers a place for people to enjoy different sessions and workshops, but it’s also a unique opportunity to bring together the GNOME Foundation staff, board members, and Advisory Board for making strategic decisions.

While GUADEC has historically been in Europe, we are very excited that GUADEC 2020 will take place in Zacatecas, Mexico. This will provide an opportunity for people who have trouble traveling to Europe. By hosting the event on the North American continent, a whole new group of people will be able to join us to celebrate GNOME.

Another interesting event we have is GNOME.Asia. GNOME.Asia 2019 took place in Gresik, Indonesia between 11 – 13 of October at the Universitas Muhammadiyah Gresik (UMG). This too was a rousing success. It was the biggest event organized by the GNOME community in Asia, with the first day dedicated to workshops and the second and third days for presentations.

In 2019 we also worked with the KDE community on organizing LAS in Barcelona, Spain. LAS is designed to accelerate the growth of the Linux application ecosystem by bringing together everyone involved in creating a great Linux application user experience. Thanks to the generosity of sponsors and the hard work of the organizing team, attendance was free for everyone.

Among the hackfests this past year, there was a particularly large West Coast Hackfest, which took place in Portland, OR. The focus was on getting the members of Documentation team, Engagement team and GTK team working together for four days to push some initiatives forward. This was a unique opportunity for the Documentation team to work on ideas that had been planned for some time. Members of the Engagement team worked activities such as social media strategy, event planning, and merchandise design. The GTK team continued their outstanding work on one of the most popular free libraries for graphical user interfaces.

GNOME events are organized by the GNOME community, with the support of GNOME Foundation employees, principally Programs Coordinator Kristi Progri, with sponsorship assistance from Strategic Initiatives Manager Molly de Blanc. These events are built by the GNOME community, and supported by the GNOME Foundation. We provide infrastructure and organizational support for the local and global teams who spearhead these events. We work alongside the community to make these events happen.

In 2020, we are going to continue to step up for the community and are asking you to join us by becoming a Friend of GNOME. Though this, you’re helping to make amazing events like these possible. By continuing our work, we are able to support the GNOME community and help it grow. We want to keep doing this, and we want you to help us.

We recommend a recurring, monthly donation of $25 ($5/month for students). As thanks for becoming a Friend of GNOME, we’ll send you a thank you postcard from a GNOME hacker and offer you a discount on swag at events. If you donate more than $30 a month, you are eligable for a subscription to LWN at no additional cost to you. If you donate more than $500 a year, Executive Director Neil McGovern will send you a special thank you note.

Everything the GNOME Foundation does is for the GNOME community. By supporting us, you’re supporting a global community looking to serve everyone, regardless of geography or language. Join us in working towards a brighter future for GNOME by becoming a Friend of GNOME today.

Step up and become a Friend of GNOME

The GNOME project is built by a vibrant community and supported by the GNOME Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity registered in California (USA). The GNOME community has spent more than 20 years creating a desktop environment designed for the user. We‘re asking you to step up for GNOME and become Friend of GNOME. We’re working to have 100 new Friends of GNOME join by January 6, 2020.

A photo of a group of GNOME contributors at GUADEC, standing behind a large beach blanket full of colorful GNOME logos.

The GNOME Foundation was founded in 2000, to support the activities of the GNOME project and our goal of building a desktop environments that respects the freedom of every user, developer, and contributor. We continue to make great strides towards this.

2019 has been an exciting year for us with the expansion of the Foundation‘s staff and efforts:

This year has not been without challenges. Most notably, October brought with it allegations of patent infringement from Rothschild Imaging, Ltd. Rather than settling or backing down, we are taking this fight as far as we have to in order to say that patent trolls have no place in free software. This effort is something we’ll be carrying forward into the coming year.

Looking ahead to 2020, we already have a lot going on in addition to our patent case. There’s kicking off the GNOME Coding Education Challenge in order to expand the tools we have available to learn and teach. We will be seriously expanding our accessibility efforts, and are currently planning an accessibility audit and making plans for updates to the Orca screen reader. We’ve already started planning GUADEC 2020, which will bring us to our first North American GUADEC in Zacatecas, Mexico. We have a GNOME.Asia in the works. There will be more hackfests and newcomer events, intern and mentorship opportunities, and constant efforts to work on, for, and with the community. We’ll do all of this while upholding the standards of technical excellence you have come to expect from the GNOME project, building software for people of every country with every level of ability.

The GNOME Foundation supports the work of the GNOME community, and we need your help to keep going. We’re working on the future, not just of how you interact with your computer, but the future of free software and we want you to join us. Step up for GNOME! You can become a Friend of GNOME, to support us on either an annual or monthly basis. We ask for a minimum donation of $10/month, and recommend $25 a month ($5 for students). Every donation comes with a Thank You postcard from a GNOME hacker and a discount on GNOME swag when you find our booth at a conference. For $30 a month, you can get a subscription to LWN. If you donate $500 or more on an annual basis, you’ll get a wonderful Thank You note especially from executive director Neil McGovern.

We’re bringing software freedom to the desktop. We‘re developing a safe, secure, accessible desktop environment for everyone; building a global community of contributors; and fostering the next generation of free and open source software contributors. By becoming a Friend of GNOME you are becoming a part of that.

Cheers,

Andrea, Bart, Emmanuele, Kristi, Molly, Neil, and Rosanna

Photo courtesy of Ana Rey. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license.