Re: GNOME Foundation Elections 2007. Let's start the debate!


2007/11/19, Bruno Boaventura <brunoboaventura gmail com>:
> With the final list of candidates announced, it's time to submit
> questions about the GNOME Foundation and GNOME Project to this years
> prospective Board of Directors.
> The list, a summary of each candidate's statement and a link to each
> candidate's candidacy can be found at:
> Here we'll go:
> [1] How much impact would being a member of the GNOME Foundation Board
> have on your current contributions to GNOME ?

As I already mentioned in my candidacy announcement, I've been trying
to help the GNOME community to find its own direction and as a Board
member I expect to pro-actively organize or just facilitate
face-to-face meetings for boosting different aspects of our software
stack. Also, after my participation on the Board for some months, I
think I can be really helpful on getting the daily Foundation tasks
done which involves mostly replying different kind of requests (from
community and other organizations) and properly communicating our

> [2] Online Desktop and Services are being talked about as the next
> large step in GNOME - what is your vision for Online Desktop and
> Services and how would you measure them ?

I think the Online Desktop initiative is a great opportunity for us to
enwide the scope of GNOME project from a specific desktop environment
to a broader user experiences set. This means taking advantage of this
huge amount of funny, socially powerful, useful information and
services available on the Web. Embracing Online Desktop also means
trying to bring a new set of goals to GNOME which are related to a
more social and entertaining user experience, something that, in my
opinion, has been lacking in GNOME for a long time.

Currently, GNOME achieves very well the goal of proving a desktop
environment that "just works" in most of the cases. However, there's
still a long way until we're cool, sexy and atractive enough to catch
the attention of  home/domestic users who just want to have fun and
share "stuff" with their friends. Online Desktop can help a lot in
this regard.

IMO, we should always keep a "platform thinking" about Online Desktop.
This means that it's really important to provide as many "platform
enablers" as possible so that companies, FLOSS communities and other
organizations can create their own services and easily "link" them to
our desktop. I would be really happy if in 2009 (?) I see something
like "Click here to Install the WEB_SERVICE_NAME plugin for GNOME" in
Flickr, Youtube, Facebook, Jaiku, etc.

I think the GNOME Foundation (and the Board) can help the Online
Desktop initiative by bringing this topic for discussion to the
Advisory Board members, promoting cooperation among companies. FLOSS
projects and other organizations, and making sure that hackers have
the necessary infrastructure available. Also, there's a lot to discuss
about the wider topic of free (as in freedom) web services (something
that Luis is already investigating?).

> [3] What are the SMART goals that you desire to set for yourself
> should you be elected to the Board ?

I've already mentioned those in my candidacy announcement. I'll just
copy here to avoid linking to another page. As I said, some of them
are about keeping the good current work, others are proposed
improvements and others are both.

Reactive perspective:
 - Respond quickly to requests about sponsorships, partnerships, general
   questions, etc.

Proactive perspective:
 - Incremental production of annual report to make it easier to have something
   in the end of the year;
 - Take care of transparency, provide useful information about current
   Board activities, and bring topics for discussion to membership
   when applicable;
 - Organize and/or facilitate topic-based summits with relevant contributors
   for boosting, hacking, setting direction of diffents parts/aspects of our
   desktop and platform. Those summits could be self-contained or take place
   on existing FLOSS conferences. The topics could be things like: "real-time
   communication", "panels and applets", "GNOME mobile", "eye candy",
   "online desktop", "python bindings", "multimedia experience", etc.
 - Keep in touch with user groups to know what they need for their local

> [4] If you were part of the GNOME Board last year and a candidate
> again, what would you like to put as your achievements as a Board
> member ?

In my 4 months as a Board member, it took sometime for me to
understand how the Board works and to be confortable for getting real
tasks. In the last couple months I've been replying the requests that
came in, coodinating the annual report and actively participating on
Board discussions. I would say that now I feel like a Board member.

> [5] Do you think it is important to mentor and coach potential leaders
> in the GNOME community ? If yes, what do you think the role of the
> Board be in this task ? If no, what are your thoughts on this ?

I think it's extremely important to coach potential leaders in the community.

First, because this is intrinsically important in a volunteer-based
project as you always need to have people available, motivated and
capable for getting things done and coordinating activities. If we
don't gradually refresh our group of leaders, the project will just

Second, because currently GNOME is lacking people. For example,
nowadays, we have lots of modules which are under-maintained (or
under-developed) because current developers are already overloaded and
we don't have enough new contributors coming in. Also, there are
several (interesting and important) activities inside the project that
are just stalled because there isn't anyone available to get them

Honestly, I think the Board has almost nothing to do with coaching
potential leaders in the GNOME community. You don't need to be a Board
member to do that. In general, Board members are actual leaders in the
community so they often coach some potential leaders but this is
because they're leaders, not because they're Board members.

Anyway, I see two possible ways through which the Board members could
help on this regard: one is by delegating tasks to community members
and the other is by motivating GNOME contributors to be candidates for
the Board and then giving them some support when they are part of the

> [6] Some of the tasks of a Board Member are mundane administrative
> tasks, are you comfortable taking on such tasks as opposed to being
> always involved in strategic and visionary thinking ?

I don't have any problem on taking "mundane administrative tasks". As
I said in my candidacy announcement, I've been involved on both
technical and non-technical activities in GNOME. So, I'm totally OK
with doing things like replying to requests, contacting people,
participating on meetings, etc. Also, I wouldn't be a candidate if I
didn't like the job. :-)

> [7] What or which according to you, is the one "tipping point" move
> for GNOME in the coming year ?

I don't think there's one "tipping point" but many. Considering my
plans as a Board member, I would say that for next year the community
should focus on deciding and agreeing on the future of some major
aspects of our platform and desktop.

For sure, there are already quite many important changes happening
next year. If you look at our Roadmap for 2.22 and 2.24 there are
major platform changes coming: gio/gvfs replacing gnome-vfs (2.22),
dconf/GSettings replacing GConf (possibly 2.24), convergence of Pango
and Qt into HarfBuzz (possibly 2.24). Also, I guess there will be some
very important decisions about the future of GTK+ (3.0?) in the next

On the desktop side, Mallard is coming on 2.22, new applets API
(possibly 2.24), new session manager (possibly 2.22), new GDM
(possibly 2.22), many new features/plugins in the applications and
interesting modules being proposed.

In others words: 2008 will be quite important for GNOME anyway.
However, there are quite many other unclear/undecided things which are
cross-module topics (eye candy, multimedia, online desktop, panel and
applets, etc). As Board member, I want to make sure that developers
are aware that they can count on the GNOME Foundation support for
relevant hacking sessions and meetings and pro-actively propose small
summits to discuss about (and hack on) some strategic modules.

> [8] What do you think is the most important item on the Board's agenda
> right now ? What will you do more or better than the previous boards
> in that aspect ?

I think there are some important topics that has been flowing around
for some time that are still undecided or just not-yet-done. Some
things I think we should work on in order to reach a final decision
and/or just get done:

  - Sysadmin hiring
  - Executive director hiring

Those are tricky topics in the sense that we have quite divergent
opinions about them. Also, it's hard to find the right person (in case
we decide to hire someone for those positions).

For the next year's agenda, my proposal is that we focus as much as we
can on two things (in order of priority):

1) Full support for activities which might move the desktop and platform
   forward (meetings, hacking sessions, conferences calls, etc)
2) Users groups support for their local conferences and events

> [9] What is your positioning with respect to the issue of OOXML?

IMO, Microsoft is using the ISO standardization process as a political
weapon against free/open standards. So, I'm against OOXML as an ISO

On the other hand, I don't think we should put this whole discussion
as "OOXML vs ODF: The Battle for the next Universal Document Format".
In practice, there will be a Microsoft file format (ISO standard or
not) which is still widely used anyway. So, I think it's very
important to GNOME to provide the best support possible for OOXML in
order to allow users to use Free Software to edit any kind of

> [10] Why do you think we need a GNOME Foundation ?

First of all, one thing that should be clear for everyone (candidates
or not) is that you can do pretty much anything in the community
without being a Board member. You don't need to be a Board member in
order to contribute with translations, software development,
marketing, documentation, community building, web, etc.

The participation on the Board basically allows you to participate on
the decisions related to ("material") support to the community (very
often through sponsorships) and to be part of the "institutional face"
of the project (which involves a bunch of actions in a different

So, why do community need GNOME Foundation? There are several practical reasons:

- To manage the money coming from Advisory Board members and donators
- To support activities that are considered relevant to the GNOME community
- To act as an official and institutional voice of The GNOME Project
- To make sure the community has the necessary (material)
infrastructure for its daily work



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