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  • We have items on our technologies that are no longer maintained like Telepathy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  • We have outdated links to social media (eg G+ should no longer exist)

Our tour of the website has shown how out of date our website has and it is clear that it is not part of the engagement process.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.  http://las.gnome.org/  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

GUADEC – Engagement Going Ons

I just realized that I had not posted anything from GUADEC or talked about the Engagement BoF. Given the absence of any conversation on this, I thought I would post my thoughts. I am of course aware of the irony of the engagement team not communicating. :-) Onwards and onwards:

GUADEC 2017 was a fantastic this year and of course for me it is always meeting my friends, catch up with what people have been up to and so forth. Having run the gambit of conferences, GUADEC is refreshing because it is a pure community conference vs say Linux Foundation or some other event that isn’t singularly focused like this one is. Don’t get me wrong, those are fun and I have a different set of friends I enjoy meeting and talking with. But it is the unity of purpose and working together to create something.

After the core days, we had two days of BoF’s for the engagement team. This year, we focused on a number of initiatives.

Ubuntu Release
We had extensive conversations on how to deal with Ubuntu migration to GNOME and the influx of people who may not be familiar with GNOME having coming from Unity.

The idea is to find a way to help with the migration and welcome to the new Ubuntu people.


We talked lot about the website and what we would like to see in a website refresh. In short, we want to focus more on community, not enough excitement generated, need to be more inclusive. Other things we want to do is focus on highlighting how to do donations.

Community Management

We aren’t really tracking how successful we are. We have no metrics, and that is something that needs to be formulated. We also need to analyze a lot of where are traffic is coming from and how to engage users who are not coming from Linux.


We want to start looking into creating newcomers guides not just for coders but for other areas, like internationalization, engagement, and other areas. We want to create an open space that people with any skillset can find a place within GNOME.


Want to thank everyone who worked on the Happy Birthday GNOME website. Huge thanks to Tom Tryfonidis who has taken up the large share of the website work in GNOME and deserves are deep and sincere thanks for his work. He has made so many things possible for us and all of us in the engagement team owe a debt of gratitude to him.

That’s it for now!

Also would like to sincerely thank the GNOME Foundation for sponsoring my trip to GUADEC of which without their help I would not be able to attend.

Sponsored by GNOME Foundation

Making money from copylefted code

I wanted to put this out there while I still have it fresh in my mind. Here at the copyleft BoF with Bradlely Kuhn at LAS GNOME. One of the biggest take away from this is something that Bryan Lunduke said that people are able to make money off from copyleft if we don’t actually brand it as free and open source software. So it seems that if we don’t advertise something as free or open source or that there is software available, then there is a decent chance that you can make money.

Which goes back to the interesting conversation we had the previous day on pretty much the same topic. Just fascinating stuff.

I can’t stop thinking big. In a world where I feel so small.

Returned from GUADEC and again it was a wonderful time. Big kudos to the organizing team putting together a great conference! For me to meet everyone is such a adrenaline rush, and I always feel so pumped when I come back.

Speaking of conferences, I spent a lot of time volunteering to understand the mechanics of running a local conference since you know, I have one of my own that is coming up in a few short weeks. Libre Application Summit presented by GNOME or LAS GNOME conference.

To say that starting a new conference with a new purpose is hard is an understatement. It is incredibly difficult to put a formal conference together. We did West Coast Summit for two years to make sure that this conference idea works. Huge kudos to openSUSE for giving the initial funding for this conference and taking a chance on my idea and vision of where I wanted to take this conference. I will say the same for the board as well for enthusiastically embracing LAS GNOME and the concepts behind it.

We live in a world of changing demographics and as a project we need to adapt to them. LAS GNOME is an attempt to show the world that desktops matter in this new world of containers, cloud, and consumer devices. No longer will we placidly write software and release them, but instead we are going to innovate, lead, and build the kind of eco-system that will show off our prowess.

LAS GNOME has two main goals –

1) Outreach externally: to companies, government, and organizations. We need to build relationships with them and combine efforts in building an application market.

2) Outreach internally: to the kernel, user space maintainers, and existing application organizations like Mozilla and Open Document Foundation. We need to improve the application story by improving the OS and creating the conditions for a measurable application market for devices running the Linux kernel.

Here is the thing – people, companies and organizations should know about desktop projects. We are the user space engineers of the Linux operating system. KDE created khtml which turned into WebKit and is now Blink and now one of the most popular webapp framework today. GNOME’s influence can be seen in dbus, systemd, logind, gstreamer, pulseaudio and various other core pieces of userspace. See GNOME Technologies.

Moving forward, flatpak is here and that too will have influence on how we think of applications today. The fact of the matter is, anything that gets put forth on a desktop project is going to be in every Linux based operating system out there. Nobody has more clout than we (desktop projects) do in what goes into a distribution. Do not underestimate our worth.

LAS GNOME will be in Portland, Oregon – Sept 19-23rd at the Eliot Center. The schedule is finalized except some tweaks here and there and now working on some great BoFs on open source marketing, linux graphics drivers, OpenQA/OBS, flatpak enabling/workshop, and hopefully a string of others on in the plans. Companies and individuals can expect a week of being able to talk with everyone across the Linux eco-system and understand how to get started in a single place.

I also want to thank everyone who have been working so hard on this conference. We’ve overcome so many obstacles and continue to overcome them as they arrive.

Finally, I want to thank the Foundation for sponsoring my travel to GUADEC and allowing me to network with our community and promote LAS GNOME.

Link to our schedule and website!

sponsored by GNOME Foundation

Making the case for Free Software at Universities

I was encouraged to make a blog post about this. I thought the idea had merit. I thought I would write my thoughts down on a recent presentation I made to college freshman at Purdue University.

I was made aware of a program at my alma mater, Purdue University called Learning Beyond the Classroom which encourages students to learn beyond what is taught in a classroom. My father is still a professor at Purdue, so I come back fairly often. I offered to talk about Open Source / Free Software. This is an account of that experience for others who might be interested in presenting at Universities.

Delivering this talk represented a challenge for me. My audience are freshman, that have been in college for all of three to four weeks. Your regular presentation is not going to work. My audience have left home, making new friends, and enjoying new freedoms, making adult decisions. For most freshman, their journey is just beginning and if I were to use my own experience, constantly evolving. Where you started out might be completely different and that could be said to continue even in your adult life. We are after all works in progress. The other challenge is that perception of Free Software / Open Source is applicable only to computer science. That is of course patently untrue, considering how this concept has now spread to so many other sectors. Creating something requires a wide range of skillsets and its just not about coding.

For two days, I worked on this and finally gave it up. There is no way that I’m going to be able to use slides to make a remotely interesting or compelling talk. I did something I never did before. I didn’t prepare.

Walking into the classroom the next day, I watched the students file in. I could feel that there was trepidation. The description of this talk didn’t really portend anything interesting. I couldn’t really hold back a smirk. Once they filed in and sat down, and introductions made. It was time to go down the rabbit hole. Up to this point, I had no idea what the hell I was going to talk about.

I presented my slides. My three slides. Then.. what?

I made a bet.

I asked a question to each student, 1) Name 2) major 3) why are you here in college and what drives you? The 25 students went around and I nodded, joked, laughed with them as they went around. After they all went around, I said well, I identified three themes that was common amongst all of them – 1) I want to help people 2) I want to figure how things work 3) I want to explore and discover things.

None of this surprised me. Young people are driven by altruistic ideas. It’s only when the daily grind of responsibilities and life’s complexity that builds the cynicism of the modern adult. They were the perfect audience.

Can I build a conversation around that? Damn right I can.

For the next 40 minutes, I talked about Free Software and Open Source, through my personal journey, and how it affected who I am as an adult today. The range of topics went through women in technology, creating something for sake of creation, and the journey of personal discovery. Along the way, I talked about the friendships I made, being part bigger than myself, and how it affected my career.

We can always reach people through our own humanity, sometimes through love, friendship, community and sometimes through hate, intolerence, and bigotry.

During my talk, I saw many of these bright students, nod at the things I was saying. I could see that I had reached them at that core emotional level by sharing my life experiences with them. Ultimately this wasn’t a talk about just about Free Software. It was talk about people and what they can achieve working together. It’s about helping people, figuring how things work, and discovering new things.

I would like to thank, Purdue University, the College of Science, and Learning Beyond the Classroom program for providing me the opportunity to talk the students, the faculty and other organizations at Purdue about Free Software and Open Source. As a Purdue alumni, I’m always thrilled to give back to the university that gave me the skills that I have acquired to be successful today.

Garden to nurture and protect

Figure out what song the title came from. :-)

In my community talk I challenged the audience to talk about what in GNOME excites you, and where would you like to see GNOME go? By the second question, I’m really talking about where would you like to see the GNOME stack? I talked about IoT, TVs, and others. The world has become a more complex place in how we consume information and it isn’t just the desktop. The desktop is now just one of many ways we do things and is no longer the most convenient and ubiquitous.

Since this is the 18th anniversary of our project, it seems like a great time to post our feelings. So if the GNOME community is up to challenge post something about GNOME, what excites you and where do you want it to go. I’ll start, since it is my challenge!

I’ve been in GNOME a long time, nearly 18 years, I started contributing on the mailing list after lurking for 3-4 months, and took over a project to start doing the weekly metrics from Uraeus (Christian Schaller). I did that project for like a year, and then turned into the GNOME Journal which morphed into the marketing team and is now the engagement team. But what kept me there? I didn’t really do anything technical. I suppose my greatest contribution was probably that stream of consciousness on IRC. I was entertaining. In the end, I stayed because I loved hanging with these talented people who had so many ideas and energy, trying to come up with something amazing. Working in a corporate job with all its political handcuffs can be aggravating and I think being able to explore a creative side or be able to around people who are exposing you things you never would have on your own is what was rewarding.

I’ve known so many people here for almost 18 years here. That’s a long time to be part of any organization. GUADEC is always a fun time for me when I can actually show up. Today after 18 years, we are still going strong with a lot of us who are still here after a decade. Even former GNOMErs who get re-exposed to GNOME remember the great times even if they have themselves move on. They might even be startled that GNOME still invokes strong passions both good and bad.

Where do I want to see GNOME go? I want to see a couple of things:

* I want to start seeing the other desktops merge under the GNOME banner, once the port to GTK3 happens,we can start implementing their desktops using GNOME technologies and make the GTK+/GLib/Gobject the common layer across all desktops and eliminate the fork modules. I’m looking at you, Mate. The benefit is that GTK+ becomes once again a common toolkit for all desktops and thus becomes more useful across the board. There is support for this in the community and I would love to see GNOME Foundation help fund hackfests to make this happen.

* I want us to solidify the developer story, GNOME Builder can help a competitive developer desktop for many market segments including embedded Linux, HTML5 programming and what not. We need to aggressively start talking about Builder where developers gather. It’s time to take marketshare away from OSX. We can deliver some high class developer tools and workflow tools. I want us to be able to use Yocto as a way for ODMs to make products using GNOME technologies.

* I want us to be THE platform for IoT development. We have Geoclue, DLNA, Bluetooth, and a host of other enabling libraries that we can build a real product.

GNOME has a lot to offer modern computing. Our influence on the Linux stack is extensive and remarkable for a GNU project. It is a rare device that does not have some kind of library whose origin did not come from the GNOME project.

These are achievable goals. We have the influence, talent, and community to make it happen! We are a tour de force. We are GNOME.