Re: Money spending, questions for the candidates

On Fri, 2007-11-30 at 02:51 +0100, Philip Van Hoof wrote:
> Hi there,
> The questions:
> o. Given that the Foundation of GNOME has plenty of money, will you if
>    elected vote to spend this money on important projects?
>    Being mostly interested in mobile targets and GNOME Mobile, I could
>    certainly come up with some projects that might both increase
>    deployment of our GNOME technologies on mobile devices and increase
>    the amount of contributors.
>    Both reasons are, I think, part of the reason why our Foundation
>    exists. 
>     - Development on language bindings, like a binding generator for
>       for example Android and other mobile targets (plenty of our
>       components don't require Gtk+ yet could run on this target)
>     - Funding development on development tools (like the new Anjuta)
>     - Development on a WinCE port of Gtk+
>     - Development on a P.I.P.S. (Symbian with POSIX) port of Gtk+
>     - Improve the existing Win32 target of Gtk+
>     - Employ a maintainer and/or additional developers for Gtk+'s
>       development

So your questions come from the false notion that the Foundation has
"plenty of money".  While we are better off than years past we are in no
way flush with resources.  We are looking at hiring a full time
administrator and perhaps an admin at some point but doing so will be
scrutinized to make sure we are properly allocating our resources.

For the above scenarios Philip presents, I don't think these types of
spending are in the Foundation's interest in "funding" as he puts it.
Helping out when asked by a developer with hardware, contacts with
relevant companies or funding to attend conferences are more in-line
with how we should allocate resources.  Even then a developer would have
to come with a detailed proposal which shows the benefits of such
expenditures.  There are a million things we can put resources into but
we only have a limited amount to go around so we need to carefully
select which expenditures will give us the most bang for the buck as
they say.

>     - Pay people to travel to schools and universities to educate 
>       students about GNOME (serious educating, not just doing cheap
>       presentations)

Again we should fund peoples travels but creating jobs can lead to major
issues.  First and foremost is we don't have the money to do this.  The
second is, jobs, outside of the day to day administration of the
Foundation would create conflict with people in the community who don't
get payed.  Even the job of system administration could cause conflict
and the benefits need to be weighed in light of these issues. In other
words leave most of the hiring up to the various companies that use
GNOME and only hire within the Foundation after careful consideration of
the issues.  

>     - ... (for making these decisions we need people who'll make real
>       and hard decisions)

And even hard decisions some may not like to hear.  

> o. What is your opinion on an examination that could carry the title:
>    "GNOME Mobile certified software developer exam"

It is hard to have an opinion on a title.  Who is going to make this
exam?  What does it certify?  Does it conflict with our partners
programs or favor one partner over another?  

> o. How are you planning to help the GNOME community overcome the fact
>    that we have relatively few technical leadership?

I think we have huge technical leadership.  I think leaders pop up every
day in different areas.  I think the Board's role in developing leaders
in general is to identify potential leaders and help them contribute to
GNOME through resources like travel and conference sponsorship, by
delegating tasks to them and by providing other resources such as
hardware/hosting to those who can not procure it themselves.    

>    - By waiting for the integration our softwares to turn into
>      something that looks a lot like that O.S. called CHA-OS?

I have no idea what you are asking here.

>    - By letting companies like Nokia, Novell, ... set our goals?
>      I think this is what's happening right now. Might be fine imo.

Well it is individuals within those companies along with individuals who
don't have corporate ties who set direction.  Add into the mix the wider
Free/Open communities which sets various norms and a more dynamic
picture emerges on how GNOME direction is set.

>      Note that, however, our users sometimes get confused by this:
>        o. People thinking that Miguel De Icaza, Novell and GNOME are one
>           entity. (I love your work Miguel, don't get me wrong. A lot of
>           GNOME people do)

Some people will think what they want to think and you will never be
able to change their views however we could be more transparent than
press releases and meeting notes.  

>        o. Too late announcing of GNOME developers joining the OOXML
>           discussions (I think it's great that we are among the people
>           defining this, don't get me wrong. But our "technical
>           leadership", the one that we lack, should have made our
>           position clear to the audience (our users) before getting
>           Slashdotted by the religious ones in the land of freesoftware.

I think we covered this in another thread.  We do need more
transparency, timeliness and foresight but it is unclear if the reaction
would have been different even if we did everything correctly.

>     I think that we are having quite a handicap by this, and that we
>     should do something about it. This year.

Again, we've identified the issue ad nauseum , I would like to hear from
the community on specifics they would like to see implemented.  I have
already detailed mine in this thread and others.

>     How will you do that? What is your strategy?

Since you directly ask - Jeff is already at work putting together a
foundation blog which will be a huge help at getting information out
there faster.  I would also take time to identify decisions that could
prove controversial and make sure we have a statement ready by the end
of the meeting where the decision is made.  Making sure board members
are available to the press so that misinformation is minimized is also
something that should be looked at. 

> Notes on my mind:
>  o. Technical leadership != one person dictatorship, we can work with
>     committees too. Let's be open minded in stead of the "I'm against
>     everything" point of view.

Not sure where this comes from.  Different bodies require different
structure.  The Board is a committee but a there are projects that are
successfully run by a benevolent dictator.  It is not up for the board
to decide outside of it's own structure.

>     If the right people are in that committee, nobody will be against
>     anything.

A good committee has debates and the best arguments win in a timely
manner.  Well that is a Utopian committee but the point is the
Foundation is going to say no to things and yes to other things.

>  o. I'm still hoping for GMAE/GNOME Mobile to be(come) that committee
>     for mobile related components. Why not do ...
>       o. one for the Desktop
>       o. one for the translators and documentation writers
>       o. one for that futuristic Online Desktop
>       o. one for the language bindings and development tools

Bureaucracy causes bottlenecks where they are not needed.  Some of these
may need committees but I would rather see them evolve naturally.  Birds
of a feather meetings are most likely more appropriate, at least in the

>  o. On importance level: I think that without such technical leadership,
>     GNOME will fragment into a huge amount of unconnected projects. 
>     I think this will eventually render most our components irrelevant.

I don't see Armageddon on the horizon.  We certainly need to keep an eye
on things but the Release Team is well equipped to make sure we have a
coherent platform.  As we see clear winners from the current batch of
technology they will naturally become part of the ecosystem.  GUADEC,
the Summit and other meeting makes sure relevant people keep up on what
is going on and work together on shared solutions.

> I don't want to end with panic-speech but I just did. I'll continue my
> philosophic text  with ... passion

We like passion.

> We are a bunch of passionate people. I've met a lot of the other
> developers at conferences and my conclusion is that our average level of
> passion is high.
> With our combined passion, I think we can compete with any big player on
> this planet. I believe it has always been passion that made the final
> difference in technology

Passion tempered in reality - yes.

> It would be a waste to steer ourselves to irrelevance. I think we can be
> both passionate and successful. And if not, let's die trying.

I think we are a far cry from having to fall on our swords but yes we
are both passionate and successful.

> (now that's a good conclusion, no?)
> ps. I hereby promise I will try not to make such long philosophic
> E-mails anymore. You must be insane for reading all of it!

John (J5) Palmieri <johnp redhat com>

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