Re: Questions for the board election candidates

On Tue, 2012-05-22 at 09:58 +0200, Robert Nordan wrote:
> Hi all, I have a few questions for the candidates in the upcoming
> election to the board. They are obviously shaped by my interests, but I
> believe that other Foundation members may be interested in the answers
> as well.
> 1) "Open Source" or "Free Software"?
> This is about personal philosophy: Do you prefer the pragmatism of the
> Open Source Initiative or the political idealism of the Free Software
> Foundation? (Some of the candidates have already flagged a stance on
> this.)

The conferees decided it was time to dump the moralizing and
confrontational attitude that had been associated with "free
software" [...]

This sort of characterisation of another organisation is really not what
I would want GNOME associated with.

To me, they are different terms for the same thing. If we were talking
specifically of attitudes of proponents of the different terms, I have
bad stories to tell about both sides.

The important thing is making 

> 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. It's fine for
> developers with commit access, but  contributors without have to create
> individual patches and attach them to bug trackers or convince the
> maintainers to look up their personal branch hosted somewhere else and
> merge in. In a time when GitHub is setting the standard for ease of use
> when it comes to forking, merging and development, GNOME is lagging
> behind.
> I have heard chatter

It isn't chatter, it was discussed on this very list:

>  among GNOME people about setting up a GNOME
> instance of Gitorious to gain that kind of functionality, but nothing
> has really happened. Do any of the candidates want to make a juicy
> campaign promise on this issue?

It's not up to the Board to make the decision of whether to deploy a
gitorious instance. If money, consulting, or similar is needed to deploy
it, then we can help, but the infrastructure work, including explaining
the needs for such a deployment, would need to come from the various
GNOME teams, and a group of hackers actually doing the work.

> 3) GNOME and Ubuntu
> In the recent years there has been a public perception of a schism
> between GNOME and Ubuntu resulting in double work and wasted resources
> on both sides. Do you think that perception is unfounded or not, and how
> do you plan to handle it?

"schism: A split or separation within a group or organization"

We're still GNOME, and in one piece, so not really a schism, and more of
a fork. I think Canonical (and not Ubuntu) have tried to make their own
desktop, developing their own shell so they could differentiate their
offering, but keeping most of the upstream underlying infrastructure.

Problems start happening when the underlying infrastructure moves and
your project relies on the old bits. You end up spending time
reconciling your changes based on the old infrastructure, and don't have
time or resources to upstream the things you could upstream (and thus
lower your maintenance burden).

When resources aren't so tight, we usually see good contributions
flowing from Ubuntu into GNOME. The rest of the problem is Free Software
101: the lower your delta to upstream, the easier it is to maintain. I'm
sure we'll see Ubuntu's fork get back closer to upstream.

> 4) Stance on GNOME forks
> Similarly, GNOME 3 has met with some opposing developments like Cinnamon
> and MATE. It is of course the right of dissatisfied users to do what
> they want and fork if they like, but should GNOME ignore them or try to
> find ways to work together with them?

They're allowed to, certainly.

For MATE, I think they'll hit maintenance problems very soon, when
they've stopped spending time running sed on GNOME sources.

Cinnamon is a good example of shell extensions use (cf. question 2,
Unity could probably be implemented like that), but I think they're
missing out on a lot of innovations and changes happening in GNOME 3.
The effect is going to be more and more jarring as GNOME applications
change to integrate with the shell.

So I'm disappointed that they wouldn't choose to work upstream in some
cases, but Cinnamon is certainly a more viable "fork", especially if
they start contributing to infrastructure, rather than just skinning the

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