Re: Questions for the board election candidates

Hi Robert.

On 05/22/2012 03:58 AM, Robert Nordan wrote:

> 1) "Open Source" or "Free Software"?

"Open Source" AND "Free Software". :)

With respect to my own "pragmatic idealism":

  * I value freedom and tend to say "Free Software". BUT I have no
    philosophical problems with those who say or prefer "Open Source."
    None whatsoever.

  * If you think I'm turning off my Android's GPS because getting lost
    is preferable to using a non-free driver, think again. ;) BUT I did
    donate money (the cost of a new unlocked QWERTY phone) to the
    Replicant Project because I would much prefer to not get lost AND
    to not use non-free software. As soon there is a fully free Android
    with GPS and a QWERTY keyboard I will buy it. I hope that they
    accomplish this soon.

  * I find it disturbing and unfortunate that with the very many things
    these two groups have in common, the focus seems to always come
    back to the few differences which exist. And I wonder if that is in
    the best interest of either group. I myself do not think it is.

Thus as a pragmatist I will do everything I can to advance Free, Libre,
Open Source software. I will not engage in debates about "Open Source"
versus "Free Software," however, because I feel doing so is to the
detriment of our shared goal of eliminating proprietary software. As an
idealist, I'm fully convinced we can achieve our shared goal -- if and
only if we work together.

> 2) Overhaul of GNOME's git infrastructure
> I personally believe that the way the GNOME git system is set up is a
> bit antiquated and doesn't use git to its full potential.

I personally do not have serious problems with GNOME's git system or
associated infrastructure, though admittedly I am a tad antiquated
myself. ;) Having said that, I also do not have serious objections to an
overhaul -- with one possible exception: Any time my ears hear the word
"overhaul," my brain receives "potentially significant disruption."

GNOME 3 is still sufficiently young that I think all of us -- designers,
developers, document writers, marketers, translators, ... -- need to
keep our focus on it and not lose momentum. Thus if it were up to the
Board to decide upon this issue, my supporting it would be based
primarily on two things: overall community support of it and how
smooth/seamless the transition would be. If everyone wants it and it can
JustHappen(tm) without us skipping a beat, it's got my vote. Otherwise,
let's wait a couple of cycles.

> 3) GNOME and Ubuntu
> 4) Stance on GNOME forks

(I hope you don't mind my combining your last two questions, but from my
perspective they're just different flavors of the same general issue.)

>From a *purely philosophical* standpoint, I don't think these schisms or
forks are necessarily a bad thing.

What's been happening lately is a demonstration of the beauties and
strengths of FLOSS: If you can do it better, if you can meet an unmet
need, if you disagree with the direction a project is taking, then get
the code and do it the way you think it should be done. Form a community
around your effort. Learn, create, and share.

If you're right and you indeed did it better, or met an unmet need, or
took a direction that needed to be taken, what you created makes the
world a better place. And even if you weren't right, you gained
knowledge and experience and skills in the process which you can apply
to other FLOSS software projects. And that, too, makes the world a
better place.

Being more practical and less pollyannaish: If you consider everything
we do in GNOME, it's a huge, huge amount of work. I think the odds of
any fork or "schism" becoming truly independent/separate are pretty
slim. So they still need GNOME. And I would argue that we need them (see
"huge, huge amount of work" above).

As for how to handle it.... Depends what "it" is. ;)

With respect to Canonical/Ubuntu: I'd love to have some discussion with
them around where they are investing (losing?) time with respect to
GNOME modules. Example: At one point, whilst trying to troubleshoot a
couple of downstream-only Orca bugs, I learned that their Gtk+ was
"heavily patched"; their... I *think* it was pygobject... was
essentially version Y, but claimed to be version X because they patched
it into almost-Yness rather than just pulling our version Y; they had
gnome-foo version 3.2.x, but gnome-bar version 3.0.x, but would ship
gnome-baz version 3.4. Why are they doing this?? And that is not a
rhetorical question; I genuinely would like to know. But more
importantly, if there are things we can be doing upstream to prevent or
reduce this extreme downstream smorgasbording, I think we should do so:

1. Extreme smorgasbording can lead to breakage. Breakage makes FLOSS
   software look less desirable. If the user knows that the module in
   question is a GNOME module, that makes GNOME look less desirable.

2. Extreme smorgasbording surely takes time. Wouldn't it be easier to
   just pull from upstream? Hopefully they would agree that it would
   be. In which case, if we could help them save time downstream,
   perhaps they would see fit to apply that saved time contributing
   upstream. Doing so would benefit them and also benefit us.

3. We need to bridge the schism/chasm, both real and perceived. It
   doesn't benefit anyone. As I stated in response to question 1, let's
   find opportunities to work together because we have far more
   similarities than differences.

With respect to those who feel the GNOME 3 experience is fine, but not
for them due to X, Y, or Z: Let's ensure they can have the GNOME 3
experience that they would like to have because in many cases what they
want is not all that far off from what we currently provide. The way to
achieve this goal seems to be through extensions -- which are already
coming along quite nicely. If extensions currently cannot support X, Y,
or Z, let's see if there's some way to solve that. We want people to
embrace GNOME, feel a part of it, and see it as the solution that best
suits their needs.

With respect to those who are genuinely angry about GNOME 3....
Yikes.... In the year since GNOME 3.0 was released I have witnessed
cases where I thought we could have been a tad more open to input, and I
have also witnessed cases where no matter what we did or said, we'd be
the devil incarnate. :( Should we ignore them? Of course not. But if
they are not yet ready to work with us, I don't think we should go out
of our way to pursue them (see "huge, huge amount of work" above). I
hope that over time, through our collaboration with other entities and
individuals, anger will subside and constructive dialogs will occur.

I hope I've answered all your questions. If not, please let me know.

Take care.

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