Goodbye, GUADEC!

As we at the GNOME Foundation celebrate the end of summer, we’re also celebrating another successful GUADEC.

A selfie of five people in front of a standee saying "GUADEC" at the Thessaloniki Airport.
Photo courtesy of Cassidy James Blaede.

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

A photo of ten people -- the GNOME Foundation Board and friends -- sitting around a table outside in thessaloniki. They are smiling.
Photo courtesy of Nuritzi Sanchez.

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.

A photo of Kristi Progri, smiling and wearing fabulous flower earrings, in front of some trees. She is holding a blue balloon that has the GNOME logo on it.
Photo courtesy of Richard Brown. Licensed CC-BY-NC.

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.

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.

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

A photo of two smiling people standing in front of trees. The one on the left is wearing a black shirt, and the one on the right a blue dress. They are both holding a blue balloon with the GNOME logo on it.
Photo courtesy of Richard Brown. Licensed CC-BY-NC.

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.

A photo of six smiling GUADEC volunteers.
Photo courtesy of Richard Brown. Licensed CC-BY-NC.

Whether you were there in person, participated online, or skipped GUADEC entirely, I hope to see you next year!