Last month, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend GUADEC in Guadalajara. It was thrilling to see everyone in person after a two-year absence. Even better, after many attempts we finally were able to have GUADEC in Mexico!!

For those who don’t know, the genesis of all that came from these chain of events 2016. At the time, I was working at Intel, and one of the kernel developers at Guadalajara, who just happened to be the keynote speaker at GUADEC, connected me to Manuel Haro – he had a conference called CISOL that he was running and needed a keynote speaker.

It so happened that Neil McGovern had recently became the Executive Director of GNOME just a few weeks ago. I told Manuel that Neil would be the better option but he ended up wanting both of us to speak. So we both ended up in Zacatecas, MX. Incidentally, that was when I first met Neil and this sparked the beginning of a beautiful friendship!! So, really it seems quite fitting that his GNOME adventure began and ended in Mexico!!!

The conference itself was great, I enjoyed a number of the talks especially the ones by Endless folks. I missed some that I’m grateful to be able to go back and  watch.

I gave a talk around ecosystems and the GNOME community. This was quite a personal talk for me and centered on how communities should always be reaching out to other communities. I used Linux App Summit as an example of how this worked in practice and its effects on the ecosystems. We are mightier as a meta community than we are as individual silos if you want the tl;dr.

It’s mildly ironic that the attendees likely were interested in a technical talk. 🙂 There is a certain amount of self selection there – as a project, we tend to talk about our woes around resource management or growing community – but it’s important that we all have agency and that solving people-problems needs to be a shared goal.

This GUADEC was a very special one for me. My wife, Aarti, also joined me on this trip. While not her first open source conference, this is the first one where she was a speaker/workshop lead. Her workshop was all around understanding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) from the point of view of an educator. As a person who teaches young humans,  she provided observations, facts and visual presentations to help understand how young girls and persons of color become discouraged from entering STEM fields. Big props to the audience who bought their authentic selves and listened and participated with their full heart and and souls. There was laughter, tears, and authentic heartfelt expressions of wanting to be an ally. To my wife, this was her first exposure to the GNOME community – and they did not disappoint. It was certainly a bonding experience for her with many in the GNOME community. My wife is an amazing human, and I’m lucky to be part of her life and have her light join mine on this journey of ours.

Guadalajara was amazing – the random acts of kindness that we experienced while walking this city made this city special for us. It also felt like home, and by that I mean – it felt like we were in India. The sights, the smells, and the flora. Even the monsoon level rains and the flooding – all familiar things for us. The food was amazing – and it comes down to the fresh, local produce that we as Americans do not appreciate. The intensity of flavors and spice made the same food you get in the U.S. feel bland. We intend to return with the rest of our family and be able to enjoy Mexico a bit more – in the meanwhile, I’ll be working hard on my Spanish so that I can be my authentic self. As a social person, it really kills me that I cannot express myself and forced to use English in a non-English speaking country.

I would like to thank the GNOME Foundation for sponsoring mine and Aarti’s trip.


Community metrics

Some may know that I’m involved, as part of building an app ecosystem, in figuring out how to measure Free Software communities. We formed a working group within the CHAOSS project.

One of the things that we want to do is figure out community metrics for both KDE and GNOME. This post is related to GNOME but should be universally applicable.

Going forward, the importance of making decisions through data is going to be more important. We know that we are under-resourced, and we vaguely know where we are under-resourced but we have no data to conclusively show anything about our community.

If we have successes, we should be able to demonstrate that. If people want to donate or be part of an advisory board – then they have something to assess. And yes, the data could also prove or disprove aspects of our community if we are honest with ourselves. Metrics should be thoughtful and tell the right and accurate story.

Collecting data has always been a challenge for Free Software – this is because we are all rightly skittish about giving up our privacy. We should still be able to collect data without compromising privacy and by showing what decisions this data is driving and what questions are being answered.

Doing this can make us more goal-oriented. That’s going to be important.

To that end, in addition to working with the CHAOSS project, I’m also working with Georg of Bitergia and publishing the metrics that come from the GNOME GitLab. Right now, the work will require looking at metrics collections, making sure that it is accurate, and then building an engine that can be used by the community, maintainers, foundation staff, and Directors of the GNOME Foundation based on conversations within the community. I hope to do a lot of that at this years GUADEC.

There will be a series of blog posts where I’ll be talking about these metrics and going through the ramifications of building community metrics.

We are using Cauldron whose components are all developed under an OSI approved license. You can find the metrics for the GNOME community at

If you’re interested in being a fledgling data scientist, community manager, or just love to look at data – feel free to reach out. We would love to have you.

This series will also be cross posted to as well.


The GNOME Extensions Rebooted Initiative

With the advent of the new release of GNOME 3.38 – we want to start focusing next cycle on improving the GNOME Extensions experience.

I’m using my blog for now – but we will have a extensions blog where we can start chatting about what’s going on in this important space.

What Extensions Rebooted Initiative is about

It is not a surprise that most people are aware that a large number of extensions break after each release which causes a lot of friction in the community.

Extensions Rebooted is a collaborative effort to address the issues around the GNOME Shell extension ecosystem. We want to start addressing this by making a number of policy changes and technological improvements while building a sustainable community.

Here are some highlights on how we plan to creating a better experience for GNOME extensions:

  • Proper documentation of how extensions work, reasonable expectations to be an extensions developer, participating in the GNOME extensions community.
  • Build CI pipeline (a virtual machine) for extension writers to test their extensions prior to GNOME releases.
  • Centralizing extensions for break testing on the GNOME gitlab space
  • Creating a forum for extension developers and extension writers to work together for the GNOME release cycle

To appreciate and expand on the details of this project, you should check out the Extensions Rebooted Bof on the last GUADEC and my GUADEC talk.

The Extensions Rebooted initiative’s ultimate goal is to get the extensions community to work with each other, have closer ties with GNOME shell developers and provide documentation and tools.

Extension writers are encouraged to get involved and build this better experience. Consumers of extensions are requested to help spread the word and encourage extensions developers to participate so we can all benefit.

To get involved:

GNOME Discourse:

  • Use the “extensions” tag when submitting questions about extensions.



The success of GNOME extensions cannot happen without participation and contributions from the community and so I hope that all of us who write extensions, who are interested in providing technical documentation, and have experience in CI pipelines/devops  can come together and make extensions a sustainable part of the GNOME ecosystem.

The next post will talk about using a pre-built VM image that extension developers can use to test their extensions and have them ready to be used prior to GNOME 3.38 appearing on distributions.

GNOME Extensions BoF – 18:00 UTC July 26, 2020

We will be having a conversation around extensions and the future of how we will be handling them based on policy, community, and other important factors.

If you are an extensions writer, then I would urge you to join our BoF to help understand what we will be doing with extensions going forward and also provide feedback. We do not want to do this in a vacuum.

Looking forward to hearing from the community. Please understand some of things we will be talking about is:

* Centralilzing the location of extensions to the GNOME gitlab (not necessarily develop your extensions there, but if you want it on e.g.o then it will need to pass QA tests)

* Automatic QAing of extensions prior to release of gnome-shell.
* Policies
* Documentation
* Community building

See you there!

Linux Application Summit 2019 – retrospective

I wanted to pen something before the year is gone about the recent Linux Application Summit 2019. This is the 3rd iteration of the conference and each iteration has moved the needle forward.

The thing that excites me going forward is what we can do when we work together between our various free and open source communities. LAS represents forming a partnership and building a new community around applications. By itself the ‘desktop’ doesn’t mean much to the larger open source ecosystems not because it isn’t important because the frenetic pace of open source community expansion have moved so fast that these communities do not have organizational history of foundational technologies that our communities have built over the years that they use every day and maintain.

To educate them would be too large of a task instead we need to capitalize on the hunger for technology, toolchains, and experience that build and possess. We can do that by presenting ourselves as the apps community which presents no prejudice to the outside community. We own apps, because we own the mindshare through maturity, experience, and communities that spring around it.

From here, we can start representing apps not just through the main Linux App Summit, but through other venues. Create the Apps tracks at FOSDEM, Linux Foundation events, Plumbers etc.

In the coming weeks, I will be working with other conference organizers around the globe to see how we can create these tracks and have ourselves represent ourselves there.

LAS represented the successful creation of a meta-community and from there we can build the influence we need to build the norms we need to build on the desktop.

Looking forward to 2020!

Big thanks to the GNOME Foundation for their support of Linux Application Summit.

Let’s fight back against patent trolls

The GNOME Foundation has taken the extraordinary step of not just defending itself against a patent troll but to aggressively go after them. This is an important battle. Let’s me explain.

The initial reason for Rothschild to come after us they clearly believe that the GNOME Foundation has money and that they can shake us down and get some easy money with their portfolio of patents.

If we had lost or given them the money, it would have made us a mark to not just Rothschild, but to every other patent troll who are probably watching this unfold. Worse, it means that all the other non-profits would be fair game . We do not want to set that precedent. We need to set a strong message that if they attack us they attack us all.

The GNOME Foundation manages infrastructure around the GNOME Project which consists of an incredible amount of software over a nearly 23 year period. This software is used in everything from medical devices, to consumer devices like the Amazon Kindle and Smart TVs, and of course the GNOME desktop.

The GNOME Project provides the tooling, software, and more importantly the maintenance and support for for the community. Bankrupting the GNOME Foundation would mean that these functions would take a terrible blow and cripple the important work we do. The companies that depend on these tools and software will also be similarly hit. That is just one non-profit foundation.

There are many others, Apache, Software Freedom Conservancy and the FSF amongst others. They would be just as vulnerable as we are now.

What Rothschild has done is not just attack GNOME, but all of us in Free Software and Open Source, our toolchains that we depend, and the software we use. We can’t let that happen. We need to strongly repudiate this patent troll, and not only defend ourselves but to neuter them and make an example of them to warn off any other patent troll that thinks we are easy pickings.

Companies, individuals, governments should give money so we can make a singularly statement – not here, not now, not ever!  Let’s set that precedence. Donate to the cause. GNOME has a history of conquering its bullies. But we can’t do that without your help.

An American President once said “They counted on us to be passive. They counted wrong.”

Donate now! 


West Coast Hackfest – Summary

Sorry this was supposed to have gone out some weeks ago and I lazed it up. Blame it on my general resistance to blogging. 🙂

This year, I helped organize West Coast Hackfest with my stalwart partner and friend Teresa Hill in Portland – with assistance from Kristi Progi. Big thanks to them for helping to make this a success!

Primarily the engagement hackfest was focused on the website content. The website is showing its age and needs both a content update and a facelift. Given our general focus on engagement, we want to re-envision the website to drive that engagement as a medium for volunteer capture, identity, and fundraising.

The three days of engagement hackfest was spent going through each of the various pages and pointing out issues in the content and what should be fixed. Fixing them is a little bit problematic as the content is not generally available on WordPress but embedded in the theme of which few people have access to. Another focus will be opening up that content and finding alternatives to create content without having to touch the theme at all.

Our observations going through them are as follow:

  • Our website doesn’t actually identify what we are as a project and what we work on. (eg the word desktop doesn’t show up anywhere on our website)
  • There is no emotional connection for newcomers who want to know what GNOME is, what our values are
  • We have old photos from early 6-7 years ago that need to be updated.
  • The messaging that we have developed within the engagement team is not reflected on the website and should be updated accordingly
  • We have items on our technologies that are no longer maintained like Telepathy
  • We have new items on our technology page that need to be added
  • We have outdated links to social media (eg G+ should no longer exist)

Our tour of the website has shown how out of date our website has and it is clear that it is not part of the engagement process. One of the things we will talk about in GUADEC is managing content and visuals on the website as part of the engagement team activity. We have an opportunity to really find new ways to connect with our users, volunteers, and donors and reach out to potential new folks through the philanthropy and activism in Free Software that we do.

I would like to thank the GNOME Foundation for providing the resources and infrastructure to have us all here.

The plans for West Coast Hackfest is to continue to expand its participation in the U.S. As a U.S. based non-profit, we have a responsibility to expand our mission in the United States as part of our Foundation activities. While we have been quite modest this year, we hope to expand even larger for next year as another vehicle like GUADEC as a meeting place for users, maintainers, designers, documentators and everyone else.

If you are interested in hosting West Coast Hackfest – (we’ll call it something else – suggestions?) then please get in touch with Kristi Progi and myself. We will love to hear from you!

GUADEC 2018 Almeria – reflections

It’s been a couple of days since the BoF days ended.  I’ve been spending most of post-guadec traveling around Spain and enjoying myself immensely.  I leave to go back to the U.S. day after tomorrow so now seems like a perfect time to write up something about my experience this year.

Almeria was a grand time, as usual being able to connect with friends and acquaintances is a large part of what makes GUADEC special.  I found all the evening events to be spectacular and full of surprises.  The beach party was awesome, and the flamenco night was just spectacular.  I was really moved by the music and the dancing.  There was clearly a lot of different influences there.

The little skit with Nuritzi, and others was really a special surprise and they did seem to do a fairly decent job with barely any direction.  🙂

Overall, it was a fabulous GUADEC.  I think several people made this observation, but it seemed that our community was in decline over the years thanks to the market’s focus on webapps.  Nobody seemingly is interested in desktops or help funding them.  But this year it seems we have a new generation of enthusiastic young people who are very much interested in moving the platform forward.  We’ve had more downstreams represented this year.  Next year, let’s try to increase that outreach by adding XFCE and Mate to the mix.  Only by diversity are we going to be able to improve our platform and the ongoing discussions with GNOME’s downstreams have been beneficial for everyone.

The other observation is that the engagement team, thanks to the move to GitLab is becoming more of a core function of GNOME.  There is definitely a feeling that our we present ourselves to the world is an important part of the project’s functions and of course we want to be able to help as much as we can to improve GNOME’s image to the outside world.  We shouldn’t be afraid to communicate even if there are forces out there that seek to bring us down.  We shouldn’t also be afraid to listen either.  So we’ll continue having an internal discussion about listening as well.

I was the winner of this year’s Pant’s award!  I’m so so grateful for all of you for the recognition knowing that the work I do is valuable.  It’s truly is a labor of love for me to help build relationships between GNOME and the community.  I would have given a few words at the time, but I probably would have gotten emotional so I demurred. 🙂

BoF days were great, and we had some work done.  We’ve kicked off some more projects that hopefully get some attention during the year.  The engagement team is still double or triple booked on projects.  If you are interested in joining us we would love to have you.  We have all kinds of things that are generally non-technical but also fun!  So reach out through the comments or some other way.

I would like to personally thank the GUADEC organizing committee for all their hard work.  Things got started pretty late, but thanks to great dedication by the team were able to get things accomplished.  Bravo!  Also thank you to the KDE Hispano team who help run the registration booth.  Never a more friendly bunch of people!

At last, I want to make a final plea that the CfP for Libre Application Summit (hosted by GNOME) – LAS will be closing in about 10 days.  This isn’t a desktop conference, but a conference focused on applications and the eco-system.  Please spread the word as much as you can so that we can continue to expand this conference.  It will be our vehicle to talk about how we can start building a market for the Linux platform and the accomplishments of those involved in desktops, toolkits, and design.  I’m working on adding more stakeholders like KDE to the conference so that the conference represents everyone.

My trip was funded by the GNOME Foundation and I’m grateful for them sponsoring me.

See you at GUADEC!

I’m currently writing this at Minneapolis airport. Having ramen and sushi, before boarding my flight to CDG and ultimately to Malaga and Almeria. GUADEC is always the most special time being able to meet absent friends, and of course the scheming, the plotting and rabble rousing and that’s just the things I’m doing! 🙂

I’m presenting this year with a community talk. Which the slides are being written on the flight . This will be a busy GUADEC as there are a lot of things going on, projects that I’m looking to complete, a conference that I need to promote, and a lot of conversations about all things engagement, website, and various other things. There might even be a special blog post later! 😉

See ya there!  I would like to thank the GNOME Foundation of which I would not have been able to attend.

GNOME.Asia and Engagmeent update

I’ve been wanting to write a post on GNOME.Asia and the going ons with engagement for awhile, but never seemed to get the motivations to blog.  🙂

GNOME.Asia was an amazing event and I wanted to reach out to the organizers and thank them for the wonderful reception that I received while I was there.  The trip to Chongqing was mostly uneventful other than the fact every Chinese official was gunning for my battery brick when going through airport security.  After a long layover in Beijing, I was landed in Chongqing and met up with Mathias Clasen and proceeded to head to the hotel.

Next day, we went on a wonderful trip to some caves in the local area that Lennart found in Lonely Planet.  We were very lucky to have Jonathan Kang with us to speak the local language as it would have been a challenging trip otherwise.  But we got to see some really interesting statues that were many centuries old.  There was one really especially interesting one that showed the Bodhisvatta with a thousand hands.  It definitely had a presence!  We came back in time to attend the reception although we were a little late.

I was lucky to have my talk on the first day which allowed me to not have to worry about my talk for the rest of the conference.  This was my first time going to a GNOME.Asia conference and everything was impressive.  First conference I’ve been to where there was a mini-drama with a fire-blower/fire-eater.  That definitely left an impression!

I gave my talk shortly after the intro, and it was well attended and I think people enjoyed it.  Most people know me that I tend to get a little energetic while on stage.

The rest of the conference, I enjoyed going to the english speaking talks, meeting with conference attendees, selfies, and everything else.  We had a day for BoFs and of course, we had an engagement one.  Well, Nuritzi and I had an engagement BoF.  🙂  Apparently, writing code is still the sexy thing to do.  🙂

The conference did drive an impetus to harness the energy in Asia, and not just China, but India, Japan, S. Korea and so forth.  And after the conference, we started working in earnest to start organizing to bring in new members from Asia.

We had a lovely party on a ship, and a tour of Chongqing at night, that was really impressive.  Chongqing is really large, like one city the size of the Bay Area and possibly a larger population.  There was much fun to be had and of course more pictures and selfies and the like.

The next day was a walking tour of the city that our new friends took us around in the city.  The city reminds me a lot of Portland, simply because it was perpetually raining and foggy.  Which kept the pollution to a minimum.  The food was delicious and very spicy.  I’ve come to have a love/hate relationship with the szechuan pepper which while I like the spice, wasn’t overly fond of the numbness it causes.  Where in the cities on the west coast, the smell of cannibis shows up, so does the aroma of szechuan peppers in Chongqing!

I went shopping on the last day of my trip there and finally the next morning headed back to Denver.  Chinese security confiscated my power brick of which I was quite irate about.  I had that thing for 3 years, and I hated letting it go.  Of course as luck what have it, I needed it charged by the time I got out in Denver and had to spend an extra hour to charge my phone in order to go home. 🙁

Post conference, there has been a lot of re-organization to accommodate the Asian members of GNOME engagement.  We have moved to a new time and hopefully we can use some of amazing talent that some of our new members have in some of the engagement things.

Thanks to Carlos, we were able to also start using gitlab as a way to project manage social media and you’ll find that in the past 6 weeks that GNOME engagement social media are tracked in issues, and are getting completed.  The side effect is that work done by the engagement team are no longer opaque and instead the entire project can see what the team is doing.  Our engagement internally with the rest of the project has improved markedly.  We hope to continue making progress and improving the engagement team.  Our meetings are half discussions and have work sessions so that we remove items out of our todo.

There has never been a better time to get involved with GNOME engagement.  As a recent blog post by Christian Hergert has underscored, the project in order to grow needs to be able to have non-coding skills like project management, graphics artists, designers, and community managers.  We’re also a bit of a counter-culture group compared to the rest of the project.  So if you are interested in the people behind GNOME, the users of our software, or solving humanistic problems, come join us and let’s chat!

I would like to finally thank the GNOME Foundation for sponsoring my trip to GNOME.Asia.  I would not have been able to go otherwise.

sponsored by GNOME Foundation