Meet the GNOMEies: Sammy Fung

Sammy is a freelancer, community organizer, and GNOME enthusiast from Hong Kong. For almost 20 years, Sammy has been using, GNOME and building community in Asia.

A photo of Sammy Fung holding up two firefox signs. He is wearing a suit jacket and a blue collared shirt. He has glasses and his hair is sticking up.

Tell us a little bit more about yourself.

Currently, I am a freelancer which works on web scraping, python, data analytics, Linux, and networks. I was an owner and the director of small IT business, with my experiences in the open source, technology, community, and business, I organise local and regional open source communities and conferences in Hong Kong and Asia, travel between Asian and US cities to attend, speak, and organise open source events.

What is your role within the GNOME community?

I co-lead at GNOME Asia committee

Do you have any other affiliations you want to share?

I’m a Mozilla Representative, the President at Open Source Hong Kong, organiser of PyCon HK, and founder of Hong Kong Open Source Conference.

Why did you get involved in GNOME?

I am a GNOME user since 2000, and I think that GNOME is the most important software for Linux desktop. I thought that we should organise an event in Hong Kong for Linux desktop to promote and develop it. GNOME is the key.

Why are you still involved with GNOME?

As a user in Hong Kong, we embrace the different cultures from West and East. I keep my contributions to link up with East and West in different Asia cities when my living and income allows me to do so.

What are you working on right now?

After I take over the leadership at GNOME Asia Committee, I called for meetings for the GNOME.Asia Summit. I communicate with the local team for it.

What are you excited about right now – either in GNOME or free and open
source software in general?

It is not easy to sustain a desktop project, but GNOME is still the number one desktop environment on Linux!

What is a major challenge you see for the future of GNOME?

To sustain and grow GNOME, I hope that more GNOME contributors can be employed to achieve different missions of the project, to create more resources (e.g. marketing and documentation) for GNOME. On the other hand, we should also consider how to integrate GNOME and the open web seamlessly. I hope GNOME can become software that is not just a desktop environment, but a desktop ecosystem. It is not only in technical but also in business, the community, and the market.

What do you think GNOME should focus on next?

  1. Community building;
  2. Educating youth about the open desktop; and
  3. Turning the desktop environment to the desktop ecosystem.

Edited for content and clarity. Photo provided by Sammy Fung.

Meet the GNOMEies: Max Huang

Max Huang has been GNOME since 2010, starting with forming a GNOME users group in Taiwan. Max has a story you may understand: being a user, meeting the right person, and slowly finding yourself more and more deeply involved with a community in terms of working together and making friends.

A photo of three people, holding signs reading "GNOME Asia," "openSUSE," and "COSCUP."
Max Huang, on the left

Tell us a little bit more about yourself

I have contributed to GNOME for the past nine years. I promote free software and GNU/Linux at my school in Taiwan. I am one of GNOME.Asia Committee Advisors members, working with GNOME.Asia team.

I’ve helped organize several GNOME.Asia summits, in Taipei, Chongqing, Tokyo, India, Indonesia, Beijing, South Korea, and Hong Kong. I’ve served on the GNOME travel committee for several years. In 2012, I also worked with openSUSE and KDE to have a conference with COSCUP in Taiwan.

Before I started organizing events, I went to Bangalore, India, learned how to host the GNOME booth, and started making a GNOME user video.

Before that, I started the GNOME Taiwan Users Group, which hosted a lot of workshops with GTK, as well as a party for the GNOME 3 launch.

What is your role within the GNOME community?

I organize and promote GNOME. :)

Why did you get involved in GNOME?

I met Emily Chen at 2010, she led me into GNOME community. I am a GNOME user — of course. :)

Why are you still involved with GNOME?

The answer is “friendship and smiles.” To me, smiles are the greatest power to promote GNOME and FOSS. I have made many new friends in GNOME and FOSS through different events.

Why still get involved with GNOME and open source?

Everyone can be a contributor with different methods. Just spending your time — you will get smiles and friends, learn and grow.

What are you working on right now?

Promoting GNOME through open source, workshops, and speeches.

What are you excited about right now — either in GNOME or free and open source software in general:

Getting the community together more. :)

What is a major challenge you see for the future of GNOME?

We need to work on documentation and the first steps for getting users and organizers involved with GNOME. How can we brow the user and contributor bases?

What do you think GNOME should focus on next?

The GNOME Board tasks. :P I trust them, they will do their best. :)

What should we have asked you about that we didn‘t? (Please also
answer.)

I think the question is great. Thanks again for interviewing me.

Photo courtesy of COSCUP on Flickr. Licensed CC-BY-SA.

Meet Sriram Ramkrishna

Sriram Ramkrishna, frequently known as Sri, is perhaps GNOME’s oldest contributor. He’s been around the community for almost as long as it’s been around!

Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?

I’m one of the oldest members of GNOME having recently past my 50th birthday. I started in GNOME in late 1997, at the time I was a storage engineer working for Intel. I remember feeling amused when someone in GNOME heard my background and asked whether Intel was going to be involved. They weren’t, but it turns out they did later. In fact, it’s because of GNOME that my work life changed from being a simple engineer to a multi-faceted person with not just technical skills but soft skills.

I’m well known in a number of other communities — free software community primarily, but also corporate open source thanks working 20 years at Intel.

What’s your role within the GNOME community?

I primarily do engagement work — social media, public relations, and talks in the community. But I also try help solve specific problems within the project. One current project I’m working on is to help improve the GNOME extensions. I have an on-going project to help with developer documentation using HotDoc. That’s been somewhat lagged and I hope to find time to help lead that effort again.

Why did you get involved in GNOME?

Miguel was a charismatic leader, and attracted me that way. Plus I hate C++, and GNOME was C based. :D But more than that, GNOME was a project that if you think about it was audacious in its purpose. Building a desktop in 1997 around an operating system that was primitive in terms of user experience, tooling, and experience. I wanted to be part of that.

Why are you still involved with GNOME?

Because GNOME is always a forward thinking project. There is still a lot of exciting potential and it’s like we’re only now getting started. The past 20 years was all about getting to the stage so that we can start doing some real innovation. We’ve reached parity with OSX and Windows — mainstream desktops. But now we can leverage the power of ideas even further.

What are you working on now?

Well, right now I’m involved in building a market for Linux applications. It’s no more audacious than the concept of GNOME itself. Five years ago, I had this idea that now that we had come up with ubiquitous app technology, that we can start working on building models that allow for compensation for free software developers, application stores so that developers can know how popular their apps are, and build relationships with the users who use their applications. A lot of this is encapsulated in a conference called Libre Application Summit. We did two iterations of that, and this year we’re expanding the scope and changing the name. Linux Application Summit will be a joint collaboration with KDE and hopefully distros in the future to help create the conditions needed to build modern, useful applications on a free software platform.

What are you excited about right now — either in GNOME or free and open source software in general?

Other than the conference. I’m generally excited about where GNOME is going. I think we have challenges to overcome and I’m excited about overcoming those challenges. In the FOSS community in general, there are challenges with encroachment by big business who I think are still trying to figure out how to exploit the labor of developers and we should ever be vigilant that we keep things fair and balanced between all parties.

What is a major challenge you see for the future of GNOME?

I think for GNOME as a platform, our challenge is to make sure that we have relevant documentation for users and developers. If there is one effort that I wish we could all participate in, it is that. It comes down to how low the barrier of entry is. How one picks one platform over the other is almost always depends on how quickly you can put together an application. Building a library of code, videos, and documentation is what will make GNOME successful. The second thing is that projects like GNOME Builder will also be critical to our success. I’m excited by the idea that I can build an application and have it be easily distributed everywhere and I don’t have to use arcane tools to do it.

What do you think GNOME should focus on next?

Documentation I think is going to be important, building relationships with other organizations and a very active foundation that will put their resources into building a solid infrastructure. So it’s not just one thing, but many.

Edited for content.