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. ūüôā 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. ūüôā

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.

West Coast Summit

This is the last day of the GNOME West Coast Summit, and for the past three days we’ve been working and discussing topics such as:

  • Application Sandboxing / xdg-apps
  • Application development / Builder
  • GTK, multi-touch,
  • Appstores, Appstream
  • Mutter

In attendance are GNOME, Elementary OS, and Endless.   In addition, various individual contributors have also joined us.  Other attendees will blog about the technical work, I want to focus on community and outreach.

One of the most unique things about this hackfest versus the others is that this is the first time desktops using the same GNOME software stack are meeting and discussing with each other. ¬†Elementary and GNOME have very similar goals which was quite apparent in last year’s summit. ¬†This year, attendees have been almost equal parts GNOME and equal parts Elementary. ¬†Unlike desktop summit, everybody are still using the common core and so the conversations were much more rooted on how to enable ¬†features, fix bugs, and trading technology between desktops. BTW, we might get quarter tiling next GNOME release in mutter!

I discussed some strategic directions that I would like to see GNOME, specifically using Builder to enable GNOME as the development environment for IoT and Maker market segments.  in fact, the cultures between Maker and Free Software can be quite harmonious.

Today is the last day of the Summit.  It has been a privilege and pleasure to continue to organize and support the West Coast Summit.

A big heartfelt thanks to Endless for providing us with such a great venue for our hackfest and making us feel so welcome and providing us with a goody bag.

I would also like to thank Tiffany Yau, Christian Hergert, and Cosimo Cecchi for providing the evening festivities for each day.

Of course, thanks to all the attendees for making the trip out here in San Francisco, and see you next year!

All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary

A bit of Rush lyrics:

“All I know is that sometimes you have to wary¬†– ’cause sometimes the target is you”

My only editorial on the run of public scrutiny on the GNOME Foundation.

I’ve had the great opportunity to engage with the community these past couple of days. ¬†Once we got past the concerns of the financial health of the GNOME Foundation, discussions focused¬†to the GNOME’s support of the OPW program. ¬†It’s easy to dismiss these interactions as misogyny and I tried not to fall into the trap because if you do you’re missing out on the opportunity to listen. ¬†I was listening even while defending OPW.

There is a lot of resentment towards outreach programs like OPW that target a specific demographic and that it is a sexist program because it focuses on giving internships to one gender at the expense of the other. ¬†I think it is a mistake to think this way.¬†That’s not the point of OPW. ¬† OPW is an incentive based program, and the idea is that we pay for a highly motivated¬†and talented¬†individuals who are capable of doing the¬†work we want them to do while at the same time add their collective experience and perspective to the organization. ¬†With a little luck, they might like the environment they work and will want to continue on. ¬†What is the benefit of adding women to what has culturally¬†been a male dominated environment? ¬†An increase in openness. ¬†Adding people who are different than you ultimately changes the culture of the organization you’re participating in. ¬†It’s that cultural change that we want. ¬†By accommodating woman we add the sum of their experiences to the collective whole. ¬†The act of valuing and understanding that experience makes us more open. ¬†Some may mourn the loss of male comraderie by adding women, but they would¬†miss out on something wonderful and unique. ¬†It isn’t a loss, it’s a transition.

When an organization participates in OPW, we hope that it is because they honestly believe that they want the change the culture of their organization and become more open and more welcoming. ¬†OPW’s effect on the GNOME Project has been quite profound. ¬†We’ve come a long way from when Telsa Gwynne left the project due to the attitudes of the GNOME developers. ¬†It was one of the few times that really disapointed me about GNOME. ¬†A Free Software conference like GUADEC with about¬†20% women participation is a great accomplishment. ¬†We need to continue working on retention rates and improving them and continue to give challenging projects to not just our OPW students, past and present but to everyone who wants to volunteer and support GNOME with their time, experience, and expertise. ¬†Those who were OPW students, we hope will come back and help mentor both men and women and create the model for other organizations to follow.

In my discussions, both recently and in the past several folks have remarked on some organizations and conferences that try to support women by holding women only events or workshops at conferences and other gatherings. ¬†OPW’s strength is that the program brings in women to the organization. ¬†It however does not encourage further subdivision by creating women only events within the GNOME project but encourages interaction as equals. ¬†If you are an organization that organizes such events then I implore you to choose a different path. ¬†It isn’t diversity if you create women only events and likely leads to resentment by men. ¬†I remember in one discussion, a man was eager to attend¬†a workshop on Android development that looked really interesting and was crushed to find that the event was women only. ¬†If organizers feel that women¬†are uncomfortable enough that they need women only events to interact within the organization, then something has gone wrong. ¬†At GUADEC, there was a BOF I think on OPW, it was attended by all women, until they realized that there were no men attending. ¬†They went out and found asked men to join the discussion. ¬†I was one of those men, and it turned into a very active and spirited discussion because each gender brought their own experience¬†to the discussion making the feedback that much more valuable. ¬†It was a lot of fun.

My last comment is that programs like OPW should never be used in perpuity. ¬†At some point, you need some clear indicators that you’ve changed the culture for the better and that it is sustaining. ¬†High retention rates, collegial interactions, and the organization is attracting women without the need of the program are good indications that you participating in OPW has been a success¬†and you should declare victory!

In closing, there have been many comments that can be construed as misogyny, but we should be patient and prove that programs like OPW are worth having and worth supporting even if we get into trouble from time to time doing it.

Thanks for reading.

* My comments are my own, and I take responsiblity for them and no one else. ¬†Just taking in the spirit of the Rush lyrics mentioned above. ūüėÄ

Musings on the West Coast Hackfest

The idea of a west coast hackfest came out of a failed attempt to have the Montréal/Boston Summit in Portland.  Initially, we had decided to have it in Portland, but due to timing and the lack of availability of a decent venue made things harder.

When Endless Mobile offered their office as a venue, we moved the event to San Francisco and then made it the week before the Red Hat Summit allowing most of the Red Hat crowd to show up.  With Tiffany Yau, Christian Hegert it was such a pleasure to put together this hackfest and make it a reality from conception to implementation.  I think we all had a great time and we were able to move the platform forward.

One thing we wanted to do different from the other hackfest and GUADEC is to turn this into something more public facing.¬† We want to be more inclusive and invite the general public, invite potential parterns and customers.¬† I wasn’t quite successful in this.¬† I came into the realization that to build the brand amongst startups and potential partners, we would have to build up a contact list, a rolodex that we should have a continuous contact with in order to really be able to have the ability to bring people to events.¬† So one task is to start building up that contact list, and start working on making connections so that we can start making the next hackfesst and hopefully a sister conference that is more outward facing so ewe can expose the project to those who actually use our software.

My failure to bring in externals wasn’t a complete failiure, we did have great participation from Yorba and ElementaryOS.¬† In fact, their input was very valuable in identifying barriers of working on GNOME software and working with the community.¬† As Matthias mentioned in his blog, working with Daniel For√© we were able to help solve some of their issues as well possibly solving some of us are.¬† We look forward to working more with Elementary OS in the future.¬† I have encouraged the Elementary OS community to present at GUADEC and be part of our community.¬† I have plans to extend this to other GTK+ based desktops like XFCE and Numix.¬† There is a recognition that our diversity is our strength and we should be more aggressive about reaching out.¬† Particularly, Elemntary OS seem to have a similar goals as us minus the shell and several of us have remarked how beautiful the desktop looks.¬† Morever, they are a complete OS from top to bottom.¬† Wehile we’ve talked about GNOME OS, Elementary OS is already there.

We made a great impression on the Endless Mobile folks, who all told me how excited they were to have all of us there and as one person said “I can finally get my GTK+ patch accepted!”¬† Lots of discussions with everyone there and of course again, so nice of them to offer their space and their hospitality.¬† Big thanks to Nuritzi Sanchez and Matt Dalio for making us feel welcome and providing us witih gift bags with chocolates, energy drinks and trinkets!

Germ√°n Poo-Caama√Īo and I had a hangout with Diego who was unable to come but we all talked about our website and hopefully being able to better capture our mission better than the current iteration.¬† We will continue that discussion with the engagement team and find better ways to attract people.¬† After all, if you’re going to work out a method to reach out to someone, you will also need to have the infrastructure for them to be actual useful.

The events were a big hit.¬† Huge thanks to Christian Hergert for setting up the community dinner.¬† Big thanks to Tiffany for setting up visiting Noisebridge and the event at Zeitgeist.¬† Cosimo also gets thanks for buying the first round! ūüôā The noisebridge event was a lot of fun, and great exposure to the maker community.¬† We share a lot of values, and I had some great discussions with the people there.¬† It does underscore that the fact that we really need a nice way to setup GNOME with all the development tools.¬† Colin Walters actually had some nice thought about this in regards to GNOME Continuous.¬† We should be able to have our cake and eat it too!

Overall, it’s been a great experience.¬† I think everyone feels they would like to do this again.¬† We are already working on planning for next year, but this time with a goal to be fully sponsored, better representation, and hopefully events that we can meet the people who want or use our software.

Of course, the biggest thanks goes to everyone who attended and took the trouble to come al the way out there and hack on GNOME!  Thank all of you!


Hello from SXSW!

Greetings from Austin, TX! I’m here as part of an effort to reach out in venues that are not typically Free Software aware and bring awareness of Free Software and our mission to SXSW. In addition, we will also reach out to other communities and learn from them on how they they manage communities. This includes how the manage social media which is an important aspect of engagement.

To learn about SXSW – feel free to browse

The plan is to get GNOME out there to attendees, we have an event on Saturday, thanks to the fabulous Tiffany Yau who has been working as our volunteer event planner. We have an event located near the Austin convention center on Saturday. I hope to take pictures and put some on the blog. While I only have a day pass for Friday, I plan to be active on Saturday hopefully talking to people in the periphery about GNOME, about Free Software and getting the word out. We weren’t able to get our USB sticks, but no matter, we plan on printing fliers and the like that we can give out. Focusing mostly on the OPW program in this time frame.

The OPW program is one our strongest strengths and shows GNOME’s commitment to diversity and is another aspect of how much GNOME is a trailblazer. We hope to communicate that this weekend.

I would like to thank the GNOME Foundation for funding this trip and accommodation of which my presence at this conference would not be possible!