GUADEC 2019

This year was my very first GUADEC and I had one goal: find projects to contribute to. I am flexible in the type of contributions, although documentation is my favorite area, so I was looking for projects that could use some documentation help specifically. And to increase the frequency of contributions accepted, I was looking for projects with maintainers close to my timezone. GUADEC facilitated these connections and left me eager to contribute… right after vacation in beautiful Greece :)

Friday

The first day of the conference – how exciting! I showed up early, around 7am, to help out setting things up where I honed my t-shirt folding and paper cutting skills. From my past efforts helping out organizing Libre Application Summit, I know that there are a million little things that go into running a conference and I was happy to help out any way I could. However, once the conference started, I was ready to absorb information from talks.

After attending the opening talk, I went to Britt’s “Setting a Positive Voice for GNOME” where I learned all about the Engagement Team, and later offered to join. I have noticed the increased positivity in the GNOME subreddit and am proud to be part of this positive community. Since I’m already helping organize the Linux App Summit 2019, I’m already doing some of the things the Engagement Team represent, so it makes sense to be part of this team.

Afterward, I hopped down to the main auditorium to attend Benjamin and Iain’s joint talk on “Managing GNOME Sessions with Systemd” where I learned that there are many more parts of gnome-session than I had ever imagined!

The coffee break followed, and the coffee was much appreciated to help fight off the lingering jet lag while chatting with coworkers and mingling with others.

Then it was back to the auditorium, to hear Christian’s talk on “Designing Multi-Process Application Security” where he really dove into sandboxing of multi-process applications. It was really interesting to hear the methods using bubblewrap to facilitate the fine-grained sandboxing.

Then Matthias gave a natural follow-up talk on “Portals – Principles and Practice”, where I learned about punching holes (portals) in a flatpak sandbox to give the flatpak temporary privileges which is a really neat concept!

I also really enjoyed the keynote talk on GNU in Healthcare in various countries.

Saturday

In the morning, I attended the “Impostor Syndrome Workshop” where I identified with the feeling that my contributions are not good enough and it certainly opened my eyes that I am not the only one. After the coffee break, it was time to get technical again with “Freedesktop-sdk Status Update and Future Plans”, presented by Codethinkers where it was nice to get an update on the status of the freedesktop sdk. The next talk in the auditorium was on “Modernizing Desktop Linux Development with Containers” where I learned so much about what’s under the hood on Builder!

After a delicious lunch, I was touched by Georges’ talk on “Maintainers and Contributors”, where he personalized the strife that maintainers bear while pointing out that maintainers are not the all-knowing person about a project but rather a real human that is just trying their best to improve their application. This talk perhaps captivated me the most, as a newcomer, who has always thought of maintainers as being on a pedestal, enjoying the powerful status of maintainership.

I stuck around in the conference room to hear Kat’s talk on “Finding open source developers” where it was interesting to hear about the challenges of recruiting open source talent that is used to working on closed source software.

Then it was time to go back to the auditorium to participate in the first AGM – how exciting!

After the AGM, everyone packed up and headed over to beautiful Platanakia for food, drinks, and good conversations.

Sunday

Unfortunately, I had to miss the entire day due a family issue. I brought my husband and 8 month old baby with me to Greece and my daughter needed immediate medical attention (had an eye infection in both eyes). A million thanks goes out to the local team – especially Paty and her family – for helping us get to the hospital, translate with the medical professionals, and get the needed medication (hard to find an open pharmacy on a Sunday)! Thankfully my daughter is fine now and it means the world to me that the local team was so sincere and helpful.

Monday

Monday morning I headed over to the newcomers workshop, run by Felipe, because.. well, I’m a newcomer :)

It is here that I made my first contribution (to sound recorder) and I was encouraged by the other newcomers there and even met some folks with similar interests (documentation) so I hope I get to interact with them in the GNOME community again.

Tuesday

Tuesday morning, I listened in a bit on the “Vendor Themes” BoF before heading over to SpinachCon. I really enjoyed pairing up with someone in SpinachCon to do some user testing of GNOME Settings. We typed up our findings and sent them on to the organizer, so I hope our test case results are found useful to the Settings maintainers.

Summary

I had a wonderful (except the whole baby/hospital scenario) and fruitful time at GUADEC. I came with a goal to find ways to contribute, specifically to documentation. Through various conversations at coffee breaks, after talks, and just random hallway conversations, I have made personal connections and hope to provide some documentation help to Builder and Calendar – to start. Of course my contributions don’t need to be limited to documentation but since it’s my passion, that is where I’d like to start. Everyone in the GNOME community has been so welcoming and encouraging that I’m excited to help out and see how far I’ve come in the coming year, before next GUADEC. So thank you, GNOME Foundation, for providing travel assistance to this eager newcomer :)

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