Re: Questions for the candidate
- From: Miguel de Icaza <miguel ximian com>
- To: Sayamindu Dasgupta <sayamindu clai net>
- Cc: foundation-list gnome org
- Subject: Re: Questions for the candidate
- Date: Mon, 22 Nov 2004 11:47:42 -0500
> 1. Judging from the comments posted here (gnomdesktop.org comments
> area), it seems as though most people are confused about the purpose of
> the GNOME Foundation and its board. How will you, as a member of the
> board, try to clear up confusion and outline a clear direction and
> purpose for the Foundation?
It is more important for people to understand the role of the board.
The board is the one responsible for the activities of the Gnome
Foundation employees, and is the one that approves the expenses of the
money raised by the Foundation, an American non-profit organization.
In addition to this, the incorporation of the Foundation puts on the
board a set of extra tasks, which it has taken into its hands:
appointing different groups of volunteers to run the various parts of
the foundation as well as acting as a final tie-breaker.
In my opinion, one of the problems that the current board configuration
has is that every decision is voted by N individuals, sometimes slowing
down the process.
My personal feeling would be to have the board should elect a president
that would have executive powers to make decisions without having to
convey the so regular meetings that we have nowadays. The board elects
the president, and the board can remove the president if it fails to do
I am too involved in other projects myself to be the president, so am
pushing for this purely for the reason that our foundation is in need of
having a better decision making process for the roles I outlined above.
The president role would be defined by the board, and I do not see the
day-to-day software development decisions of Gnome being shadowed by
this, he would be more involved with the administrative elements of the
This is more inline with how regular organizations operate.
I personally think that a board that meets every 2 weeks to discuss
Gnome means that it has not appointed enough working groups and is not
doing a good job at execution: we should meet only once every two or
three months, and have dedicated workgroups for other activities.
> 2. What do you see as the most important thing that the board
> accomplishes, and what do you think is the area of the board's activity
> where you could improve things?
The board regulates a couple of activities, and in the end it is
responsible for how we use the money that we have raise (which should
be, as mentioned before used within the domain of a non-profit
There are a few kinds of important things that the board has done in the
past (as I listed before):
* Event organization.
* Appointing and creation of sub-groups.
* Serve as a point-of-contact for folks interested in Gnome.
* Advisory Board.
Plenty of the activities done by the Foundation are carried away
by volunteers or by taking an idea and growing it. GUADEC used
to be our only get-together event, but now it has expanded into
various regional meetings lead by different people (and am not
sure who to thank for this).
Again, the board role was probably limited to dispersing the
funds, even if individual board members were active in making
the above events happen.
These actually grew almost in parallel to the creation of the
Foundation: they were born roughly around the same time and they
continue to this day.
The elections committee, the marketing team, the
internationalization group, the Gnome advisory board and the
Some sub-groups have been created, changed or improved over the
Point of contact:
It has been extremely valuable to have a single point of contact
where individuals, corporations, governments or potential new
contributors can come and discuss their plans to use and deploy
The board set up a separate board for companies and governments
doing large deployments to be on this board.
This is a way for users of Gnome to help us in two ways: telling
us what is missing from Gnome, how we can improve, what lessons
they have learned from the deployments of Gnome and what things
they would like our community to address.
It used to meet once a year (when I was on the board), and there
would be semi-annual calls with them, this is probably the best
source of input that the Foundation can receive.
> 3. What is the number one priority for the GNOME project now, in your
> opinion? What do you think you can do as a board member to work towards
> that goal?
We have reached a point where the "desktop" as we know it today is
The definition of what a desktop is, and what people expect from a
desktop computer keeps expanding and it would be convenient to have a
coherent vision of where we are headed to.
The problem is that this is not probably something that the board can
do, it will come from individuals within the community to plot the
directions, and all we can do is rally around those things.
The various Gnome meetings (Summits and Guadec) are a great place to
showcase some innovations, and probably to attract developers towards a
It happened in the past with the accessibility push, the usability push,
the internationalization push.
> 4. What do you think is the most important market for GNOME over the
> next year or two, and what do you feel you can do to help get GNOME
> better penetrated into that market?
Hobbyist, corporate and government deployments are the places where
Linux on the desktop is getting adopted currently.
The consumer market is far from our reach: not because we are not easy,
or complete, but because we lack the day-to-day vertical applications
that people depend on and purchase/obtain from their local software
The deployments that I mentioned have the added advantage that their
software needs are very well specified and little vertical software is
required (contrasted with the home user).
But the hobbyist market is still where Gnome gets most of its new blood
> 5. What unique aspect will you bring to the job?
Experience with both the user interface and our developer platform;
Been around for a while in the free software world.
Contacts, and the fact that I get to travel a lot to talk about Gnome,
free software and Mono to various places that are hard to reach.
I work next door to Tim, Gnome's executive director ;-)
> 6. How would you feel about moving to a system of Preferential Voting?
I support this.
> 7. How do you think you could motivate the rest of the board, if and
> when the other directors have other time pressures?
The same way we build software: it is not really possible in a system
where people are not being paid to do things to demand anything from
someone else, so you must do the work yourself, hoping that others will
That being said, the folks running for the board this year have proven
time and again that they are willing to put extra hours, their sleeping
hours and their passion on the project, so this is not really a
> 8. What one problem could you hope to solve this year?
Keep the Gnome project growing, moving and fun.
Even if am not elected, that will continue to be my passion.
Oh, and push for renaming `GNOME' to `Gnome' ;-)
> 9. What would you do to increase community participation in the GNOME
> community and GNOME elections?
We probably need to grow the community.
Although the GIMP has always been a "family" member of Gnome, I was very
happy to see it this year that they joined the Gnome Foundation.
It is no secret to anyone that I believe that we should promote the use
of high-level languages for developing software in Gnome, and we believe
that with Mono we have succeeded in doing so.
The Mono/Gtk# community is growing rapidly every day, and I believe that
these developers that today are not really "part" of Gnome should be
brought on board.
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