Strip the Soul

We come to close of another year.  I thought I would report out on our out reach process.  By outreach, I mean the overall perception of the GNOME project by outside community.

I wanted to write this post earlier, but unfortunately, we’ve had a death in our family and  I was not able not able to really think about writing that post.  I feel that this post is important and so I’m taking the time to write this down.

Overall, we’ve made some great improvements in perception from the beginning of the year.  The 3.8 and 3.10 releases have been very successful and people have really appreciated the polish that have gone into these releases.  So, congratulations to all of you for all the great work contributors in GNOME have done this year!  As we look forward, I would like to summarize some of my perceptions from working with the FOSS community.

One of the things I want to highlight is that active participation in the community gets us great dividends as a project.  Thanks to creating community channels, core members participating in G+ communities, and twitter we have really stayed engaged!  Because of this engagement, perception of our project have become extremely positive from what it was last year.  As some of you know, I spend an inordinate amount of time arguing on GNOME’s behalf on the Internet.  I am happy to note that my job has become a lot easier with many people in the community who stand up and declare that they love GNOME 3,and willing to challenge others in the various forums.  Considering the huge backlash that we’ve had the past couple of years, I know that for a lot of people it has been a source of stop energy.  We spent the entire time at the GUADEC foundation meeting focused on this.   I am happy to note that we are seeing some great positive changes!

We have turned the corner and it’s thanks to all of you for being available, for answering questions.  Specifically, I would like to thank Allan Day, Ray Strode, Emmanuele Bassi, Matthias Clasen, and Jasper St. Pierre for always being available to respond to summons when I needed them.  Certainly for humoring me to be sure! :-)  My job has become a lot easier and participating in threads in http://reddit.com/r/gnome and http://reddit.com/r/linux are a lot easier as others have taken up the reins.  I know personally it has been gratifying to see the positive responses from the community after years of head butting and sometimes feeling the only person out there being positive.  Heck, even in Slashdot, we’ve seen some push back.  Thanks to all you in the community who do like GNOME 3, and are willing to say so.  It makes working on software so much more worthwhile!

It’s time to build on that success though.  We need to continue to open ourselves up and continue to build our community.  While I have been an advocate for GNOME to the community, I must also in turn become an advocate for the community in GNOME.  It’s up to the project to look at this feedback and respond appropriately.

Some issues worth addressing:

  1. Changes to Nautilus have been met with universal unhappiness – the changes that have been made have made a lot of people unhappy.  There just hasn’t been anybody I’ve met both who are fans of GNOME 3 and critics alike who like what the current nautilus have become.  People have either been silent or have encouraged the use of the 3.6 fork of Nautilus.  There are some reasons for it, things like  improvements have been promised but have not been forthcoming fast enough.   Secondly, the loss of being able to split the screen and be able to manage files have angered many.  The work around of having two nautilus windows and managing that way has not assuaged people.  They really miss this feature.   I’ve had a hard time arguing this as, I personally do not use nautilus to manage files.
  2. People have really been down on GNOME designers.  While they have made some great community outreach, specifically Allen Day and Jakub Steiner have always been available to talk about their designs.  Regardless, there is always this sense that whatever feedback is given will be ignored that everything is inevitable.  Even when asking module owners, they , to use an American idiom “pass the buck” and say, “ask the designers”.  Intriguing, is it not? :-)  In normal, free software, the maintainer of a project has the final say, but not necessarily in GNOME.  That puts significant pressure on designers.  What is the balance in working with community, but also have the time and motivation to work on designs in progress?  That is a hard challenge and I do not envy our GNOME designers their position as they must provide results and if you have to manage the community as well?.  As community, we should understand that some unknown, possibly significant work has now been shunted through three individuals.  I don’t know if that is particularly a good thing, certainly it is a stressful situation if you’re responsible for designing an entire eco-system.  I am not proposing a solution, I’m highlighting what I feel is a problem and a possible single point of failure.  Designers need to spend some small part of their time in public space.  Because like it or not, they are providing user experience of GNOME these days, and just about everyone else have faded in the background, proverbial noise.  Why?  Because it is strongly perceived that nothing can be changed without designers driving it.  I have some ideas.  I’ll discuss in another post.
  3. The community does not understand design.  This links to #2.  When you’re designing software, a lot of things depend on each other.  If you change something, it has ramifications to the entire design.  I don’t think users understand that.  When designers ask for feedback there is no agreed upon specific way to provide it.  Since users don’t understand that changing one aspect has ramifications elsewhere, it’s not that easy to revert something that is already planned out, so when people complain about regressions they don’t understand the context why those regressions occurred in the first place and reverting it back to the old behavior has consequences.   It would be good to know what manner of feedback will get a design a second look.  What would that feedback entail?  What is the contract with the community for design changes, if any?  We are in uncharted waters when it comes to this and if we are going to do design out in the public space and use our community as guinea pigs to a continually evolving set of designs then it is paramount that we create tools that will provide the right feedback.
  4. It’s very important that we are up front on regressions.  The gnome-terminal incident is a good example of this.  There is no doubt that transparency is a popular feature in terminals.  One could argue that they don’t contribute particularly to being useful, they do provide a kind of eye candy that  attracts the eye, like a bright paper to a magpie.  It’s not good when a feature that is used and is quite popular is taken away in a midst of a code clean up and we are ignorant of it.  I will ask module maintainers to be upfront to the release team when there is a significant regression like this.  In turn, release team needs to tell  the engagement team as well so that we are also ready to talk about it when it comes up.  Bad news travels, with social media it travels even faster and it takes on a life of its own.  Don’t keep the engagement team in the dark.  Be up front.  We have a reputation and branding that needs continual care and feeding.  We need to be always aware that any incident can last for days, weeks, years, or decades and can be very intense.  Let’s not put the engagement team into firefighting mode needlessly.  I have some ideas to mitigate some of this as well.

The conclusion is, we are creating a product.  But we need to act like we are creating a product.   That will require closer teamwork between the various teams that we have before.  I’ll talk about this in another post.  But we don’t have everything set up for that.  We have gaps, and they should be addressed.

Like the Holidays, I provided a little sweet  and a little spice!

I would like to wish all of you a Happy and Prosperous New Year!  Thank you for all your hard work in GNOME this year.  To the folks using our software, I would like to wish you as well and that you will continue to love and trust where we are doing and where we are going even if you have minor disagreements in how we go about it.

Lost in the skies, clouds roll by and I roll with them

After a 6 year hiatus, I have finally booked tickets to Brno to attend my first GUADEC after such a long time.  I’d like to think that I have grown wiser, but I really just got older and I’m just as stupid.

My triumphant return of course means that I will be preying on all my favorite people, you know who you are.  I got older, but I haven’t lost the hyperkinetic energy from last time!  I got all MANNER of fun stuff to discuss this time around.  People to see, things to do, places to go, arguments to start, beer to drink, dolls to dress up.. er wait.. maybe not the last one, that’s kind of private… but but.. ENTHUSIASM!

But this time kids, let’s not have any pictures of me on the Internet .  It took 5 years for the Google to remove Ross Burton’s pic of me from the last GUADEC as the top hit under my name.  I mean honestly, folks, that pic sucked.  I’m supposed to be all proper and respectable.  But DO, do..do do do, post pictures of the fun times you are having on blogs.gnome.org so that the portion of the world who aren’t part of your twiter feed, your facebook, google+ and so forth can join in the spectacle that is GUADEC and you!  Just leave me out of it!

Also, attend my talk, it’s going to be way more interesting that Poettering kid’s talk.  Applications sandboxing?  Pfft.  Who cares about all that mumbo jumbo!  Apps aren’t important!  I am!  Besides, it’s not going to family friendly.  It’s Lennart Poettering!  You would much rather come to my talk.  We can gossip about kernel developers!  Did you know that Linus and I share the same house inspector?!  No kidding!  It’s like we share the same monkey that looks for lice in our hair!  Lice free since 2007!

One last postscript, remember, folks when you set up your google+ profile, make sure under “bragging rights” you put in “I know Andy Wingo”  The number of folks who’ve added me  when from 500 to 3000!  Do it!  You’ll be glad you did!

See ya at GUADEC!

 

The Coefficient Of The Linear Is Juxtaposition By The Hemoglobin Of The Atomospheric Pressure In The Country

Hello! Hello Again! I’m out here attending Northwest Linuxfest! Doing a presentation on GNOME 3.. probably one of the first ones post release. I’ll blog about the experience. If any of you are attending Northwest Linuxfest, look me up! We’ll chat about whatever!

Misc stuff:

Congratulations to Ubuntu on the release of Natty Narwhal with the new Unity shell!

It feels wierd not to be running Ubuntu on my main machine, my laptop. With Ubuntu moving to Unity as their main UI, I was forced to move to Fedora 15 in order to get my GNOME 3 experience. Fedora is a great distro, with great support, and even more awesome people But I really mess debian packaging. Yum gets on my nerves. This is my first rpm based distro since RH 7.3!

My desktop machine at home is in a wierd state with Unity broken, gnome 3 not quite working.. logging in gives me the GNOME 2 experience which is also hard since I keep wanting to filck my pointer to the left top hotspot to get to the menu and wondering why it is not working. *face palm*

In any case.. maybe when Ubuntu has full support for GNOME 3 I might move back.. but for now, I’m a Fedora guy!

The Start of Something Beautiful

Congratulations to everyone who help make this release a success. Translators, designers, hackers, distributors and of course the marketing and gnome journal teams, my comrades in arms in running around getting GNOME 3 promoted.

I need to call out the webhackers who worked on the website. We started planning for a new website in 2006. We never thought that thing would be finished, but you guys pulled it out and face lifted all the other websites. Thank you guys for all the hard work you put into it. It is great!

Also thanks to the sysadmin team for all the support. A good sysadmin team works hand and glove with the community and you guys our outstanding!

Finally, thanks to all the people supporting our release with your positive comments! Thanks all of you!

I am GNOME

Did imagine the final sound was a gun?

I managed to not blog the entire year of 2010. Despite being active in GNOME, I don’t blog much. I intend to discipline myself and blog a little more often to at least support my favorite desktop!

So what have I been doing the past year? Mostly, personal stuff, I’ve been steadily been drifting away from doing any work in GNOME and was spending most of my time snarking around IRC and even that tapered off. I’ve had some interesting times, my grandfather turned 100 years old, and then 5 months later passed away. 100 years old. Flawless victory.

Anyways enough about me. How are you? Maybe I shouldn’t be asking the Internets that. That’s how reddit and digg started!

These days, working on helping out with the marketing and gnome-journal projects. Doing some press work and of course dogfooding GNOME 3 every day. I use GNOME 3 every day on my work laptop and I can honestly say that after using it now full time for the past 2 weeks that I’m having a hard time going back to GNOME 2. Sure there are some quirks to the design that I have to adjust my work pattern to but overall a positive experience! I enjoy the task centered workspaces that GNOME 3 has that lets me focus on the tasks on hand. As a sysadmin, I’m always doing a lot of tasks that I need to keep track of.

Most people should understand that when GNOME 3 is released that this is only the beginning of an iterative evolutionary process. It’s hard to strike out on our own and try to build a new user experience that distinguishes itself from the rest of the pack. I notice that we have a number of disgruntled people who like the old method of doing things. Understandable. But we can’t just stick to status quo especially if we want to challenge the big boys. I’m hoping that this is a start of something new. Is what we doing spectacularly different? I don’t think so. I found myself doing the same thing I was doing on the shell on my new android phone moving from screen to screen using the built in expose feature of the phone. It is a starting point of sorts. I’m interested in seeing where we go from here.

A long time ago, we took the risk of breaking with tradition and working on a desktop that anybody can use on top of a Unix like operating system. I think largely we’ve succeeded. We’re going to do it again and it’s going to be exciting! I’ll blog more later about some of the things that we’ve managed to do thus far.

Iran and the elections aftermath

I wanted to express my best wishes and hope for the safety of those
who are in danger.

Especially to the GNOME Farsi community in Iran, we are all hoping for your
continued safety during this upheaval. Please be safe.

re:Twitter –
The wonderful thing about twitter is that they can communicate their
stories and experience in such a profound way. I find myself glued
to the screen to see how things are unfolding in Iran. I’ve been
following the news on Andrew Sullivan’s blog site which gives up
to date information of what is happening in Iran.

edit: fixed broken link.

Linux Plumbers Conference…

So I’ve been meaning to put a post on this but I haven’t had a chance thanks to school and what not.  Having finished my exams and projects, I thought I would put in a word or two regarding the other thing I’ve been busy with and that is the Linux Plumbers Conference.  This is my second year in a row in being part of the organizing committee of Linux Plumbers Conference!

Linux Plumbers Conference is one of those small conferences organized by developers for developers and thus have a highly technical focus.  As a bonus, it’s held the same week as Linuxcon so you can get your taste of the O’Reilly type conference as well if laundry is an issue. :-)  The goal is to improve the Linux platform, targetting the weaknesses and improving them.  Last year we had the fast boot by Intel which started a distro war over boot time. and we had a piece of X put into the kernel, so things happen at this conference.

We are currently looking for paper submussions.  Have an idea for the desktop but you need kernel developer support?  This is your chance!  Thanks to Jim Gettys to being our runner for the UI track.  So if you have ideas that will help advance the Linux platform/ecosystem.  Please submit your ideas! The conference is in Portland, OR Sept 23-25, 2009. I hope to see a lot of you there. As many can attest, Portland is an awesome city with some of the coolest people on the planet living here.

End of a stage of life.

I celebrated my 40th birthday yesterday. My parents and brother made a surprise visit and we had a good couple of days hanging out and having fun. I got a real nice gift of a photo album chronically 40 years of life. It was a really nice gift and I will treasure it a lot. Got two music cds as well!

Thanks everyone for all the birthday wishes, I appreciate it! I don’t particularly feel any different than I did in the 30s. I would venture to guess that I look better now than I did in my 20s with regular 3 mile.

All I need to do now is finish off my master’s and I can get back some of my free time!

Seeing as the end is near, I have started to get more active in GNOME this quarter. I’m working on Gnome Journal having completed an article this past issue on Gourmet Recipe Manager. A great little app, that you guys should check out.

We could use feedback on the last GJ issue so if you could mail me or post here or whatever that would be awesome. We are already working on our next issue! So if you know of interesting stuff let me know.

I’m on the planning committee of the Linux Plumbers Conference for the second time year in a row. We had great fun last year and those of you I met, it was great seeing you and I hope you will come again this year. We have some great keynotes that we will be announcing later. Also, I hope you guys are thinking of submitting some good abstracts. We are really going to be tackling sound and X again with our very own Keith Packard and Lennart Poettering and of course filesystems and embedded. If you’re an expert we want to hear from you!

http://www.linuxplumbersconf.org/

Check it out!

Voted… last week :-)

Thanks to Oregon’s vote by mail system.. I turned in my vote early.  This is an especially great election as this is the first time my wife will be able to vote in a presidential election.  We had a great time picking what we wanted to vote yes or no to in the various bills.  Oregon makes it so easy to do that.

I spent quite a bit of time canvassing for my president of choice.  I don’t  precisely do it to support my candidate, but like the candidates themselves I learn something about the people we share our country with.  I get to listen to their stories, their hardships, their lives.  It’s very inspiring especially when they open up and tell me why their voting.  I talked to someone recently, a grandmother who was working at a hospital across town and has to get up at 5am so she can make it on time.  She’s  about 72 years old and she tells me she’s doing it so that she can support her grandson in med school and that’s why she’s sending money but can’t volunteer.

It’s my first time getting involved in a campaign.  (I’m purposely not telling you who it is because it’ll detract from what I’m trying to say)  and it feels good to be involved and informed.  I’m proud to live here.  Oregonians rock.

It’s been raining continously for the past couple of days.  Today it was blue skies and sunshine.  It’s going to be a beautiful day.  Cheers.

GNOME 2.24 release!!

GNOME 2.24 - teh Awesome!
GNOME 2.24 - teh Awesome!

Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to get this release out.  Especially the release team.  You guys rock!!

Had a busy couple of weeks, putting on Linux Plumbers Conference An exciting time and it was great to meet old friends and new ones. I think we were able to get all the goals we wanted. It was amazing watching something from conception to execution. We didn’t have a lot of problems.

We’re hoping to plan next years soon and see if we can top what we had. Those of you I got to meet last week, it was great hanging out and I hope we get to do it again! Our community rocks! :-)