The 18th annual Southern California Linux Expo (SCaLE) took place on March 5–8, 2020 in Pasadena, CA. As the largest community-run open source and free software conference in North America, it was interesting to see the variety of corporate and non-profit exhibitors all united under their passion for open source.
The GNOME presence was felt throughout the conference with a special GNOME Beers and pre-release party on the first day of the conference, Thursday, March 5th. GNOME information flyers were also included inside every attendee bag.
This presence carried on to our booth where we were able to connect with GNOME community members, contributors, and enthusiasts as well as tote our merchandise, including a brand new GNOME t-shirt, and stickers. Thank you to the number of supporters who assisted us at the booth including Foundation staff, Melissa Wu, Caroline Henriksen, Neil McGovern, and Rosanna Yuen, along with Foundation members Matthias Clasen, Sriram Ramkrishna, and Nuritzi Sanchez.
FOSDEM is one of the biggest community organized conferences in Europe. Run by a team of dedicated volunteers, the conference has been going for 20 years. It’s one of the biggest yearly events for us at GNOME Foundation and a rare opportunity for the staff to come together.
As a fully remote team, the GNOME Foundation staff all get together twice a year to strategize, plan, and collaborate at GUADEC and at FOSDEM. This is also when the Foundation Board of Directors and Advisory Board have the chance to meet in person.
In the four days leading up to the event, GTK Core Developer Emanuelle Bassi and Matthias Classen hosted a hackfest focused on GKT and the future of accessibility in GNOME. We really appreciate everyone who showed up, and would especially like to thank the blind participants and those with vision issues and expertise as those using the accessibility tools.
Prior to the conference, we had two days of meetings – one for the Board and one for what we affectionately call the “AdBoard.” At both we learned and planned, which we’re looking forward to sharing with you over the upcoming months.
While Executive Director Neil McGovern and Director of Operations Rosanna Yuen met with the Board of Directors, I attended Sustain Summit. I led a session on diversity in open source with a focus on building global movements.
On Friday the entire staff met with the AdBoard. These meetings are focused around what our AdBoard members are up to, what GNOME has done over the past six months, and what we’re looking forward to over the next six months. It is a time for questions and answers, and also a place to find points of collaboration and to help the Foundation understand what is happening for organization stakeholders, where their interests, successes, and pain points lie.
While all of this was going on, the rest of the staff attended sessions, had meetings, and helped with the GNOME booth in the exhibit hall. The GNOME booth was amazingly successful. Caroline Henriksen, Brand Manager, and Melissa Wu, who is coordinating the GNOME Education Challenge, talked about our upcoming plans for Challenge. Program Coordinator Kristi Progri spent her time representing the GNOME Foundation to stakeholders, meeting participants in the project, and forged new connections for the future.
Saturday night we had a fun evening at BAR NAME SOMETHING BOOI for GNOME Beers. Contributors and FOSDEM attendees came to hang out, have a drink, and have a chance to meet one another in person. Meanwhile, I attended Open Source Funding Speed Dating, serving as a judge to help fund up-and-coming free and open source projects.
The Sunday of FOSDEM was full of meetings, more sessions, and, of course, the GNOME booth.The GNOME booth wouldn’t be possible without the awesome volunteers who took on so much of the responsibility of running it. Thank you, Adrien, Anisa, Bastian, Ben, Bilal, and Kat!
As I write this, I am on the plane headed home. Reflecting on the great week I had in Brussels, Belgium, I recognize the role all of you had in making it happen. Your support of the GNOME Foundation makes it possible for us to attend events like this. Without you we wouldn’t be able to bring the Board of Directors together in person. We wouldn’t be representing our project and the value of community built, free and open software. We wouldn’t have been able to host the hackfest that pushed forward GTK development and accessibility planning. We wouldn’t have been able to bring other GNOME contributors to the event, by funding their travel.
Thank you so much! I believe this was my fourth FOSDEM, and my first with GNOME. It was definitely the best yet.
As we at the GNOME Foundation celebrate the end of summer, we’re also celebrating another successful GUADEC.
This GUADEC was really special for the Foundation, as it was the first year that there was a significant staff presence. In addition to many years of Rosanna Yuen, and lately Neil McGovern, we had four other staff members at the conference. As most of us were hired in the past year, thanks to several very generous donations, this was our first opportunity to come together, meet in person, and plan for the future of the GNOME Foundation.
While Kristi — along with an amazing group of volunteers — was hard at
work pulling together the last minute details of the conference, Neil and Rosanna met with the Board of Directors to the GNOME Foundation to make important plans for the next six and twelve month periods, and to look five and ten years into the future of all the projects that fall under the GNOME umbrella.
Several of us met with the Advisory Board, a collection of organizations with a stake in the future of GNOME projects, who advise us on the needs of their communities, and who help push the project forward through various kinds of support.
GUADEC kicked off with a warm welcome from Kristi and we embarked on three days of talks, unconference time, and, of course, fun with GNOMEies. We had updates on various parts of GNOME projects, visions of the future for Linux on the desktop, strategic discussions, and calls to focus on accessibility, global access, and environmental concerns. Personal highlights include learning about the open source community in Africa from Sigu and Stellamaris; hearing about the messaging of the Engagement Team from Britt Yasel; the keynotes by Dr. Luis Falcon, from GNU Health, and Deb Nicholson, from the Software Freedom Conservancy; lightning talk from GNOME interns; and the conversations I had during the coffee breaks. A collection of videos from the conference is available for your viewing pleasure!
Another highlight for me was the AGM — the Annual General Meeting. The AGM was open to all attendees of GUADEC. It also provided an opportunity for GNOME Foundation Members to have discussions and vote on two proposals: modifying the bylaws to use gender neutral language; and extending the terms of Board members. Both proposals passed.
We heard from Neil and newly elected president of the Board of Directors, Rob McQueen. There were also updates from various committees on their activities over the past year. GUADEC attendees had the opportunity to speak directly with the Board and Staff in a public fourm. We discussed topics like the sustainability of the GNOME Foundation, future technical directions of the project, and environmental sustainability.
Perhaps the most exciting thing from the AGM was the announcement of a collaboration between Endless and GNOME: a year long competition, to develop new tools, strategies, and methodologies for teaching coding using free and open source software. You can read the press release online, and I’ll be writing a bit more about it in the near future.
Following the three core days of the conference, there were two days of
BoFs. I personally attended the Engagement BoF, the Inclusion & Diversity BoF, and SpinachCon. There were also sessions for newcomers, GTK, documentation and localization, vendor themes, Rust, content apps, GStreamer, and Flatpak — to name a few. During these sessions we hacked, had strategic discussions, made decisions about our work moving forward, and welcomed new members to teams and initiatives.
Perhaps the most important part of GUADEC came at the very end of the conference: the Museum BoF and the Beach BoF. Those brave souls who stayed through the final days split into two groups, one that visited various museums around Thessaloniki and one that went to Eponami beach. Both groups had a great day, exploring, learning, and relaxing in our own ways.
GUADEC was amazing. I learned so much about GNOME, and I find myself more enthusiastic than ever to be working for the success of the project and all its endeavors. Even though I am new to the community, everyone made me feel welcome and valued. I had amazing conversations and hatched exciting plans for the future, which I am looking forward to sharing with you as they develop.
I’d like to personally thank the volunteers, various teams, and especially the local team that made GUADEC 2019 possible! I’d like to give a special shout out to Mariet, Stathis, and Vivia! On behalf of the organization, I would like to thank the sponsors of the event: Private Internet Access, Redhat, Endless, Ubuntu, openSUSE, CodeThink, Igalia, arm, our host the University of Macedonia, ubicast, for providing recording and streaming services, and Centricular, for bringing us drinks and snacks during the coffee breaks.
Whether you were there in person, participated online, or skipped GUADEC entirely, I hope to see you next year!