Re: Questions for candidates

>  1 How do you manage your time and that of others? 
>    (murrayc)

I've had quite a bit of experience leading big projects within GNOME and
coordinating the work of others, and while I wouldn't claim perfection,
I think I've learned lessons about managing my time and getting time out
of others that are very applicable to the board.

>  2 How are you going to treat your current Gnome work once you become 
>    a foundation board member? Will it suffer?
>    (towk)

As a board member, I'll clearly have somewhat less time to work on my
current GNOME activities, but in the end, I think that these activities 
- the GTK+ project and system administration will benefit from
having a core member involved with GNOME leadership. The challenge in
each case is how to get contributors interested, keep them involved, and
to take advantage of their contributions effectively. Going off into a
room myself and hacking for 18 hours straight only goes so far. By
figuring out how the GNOME board can help out these projects, we'll help
GNOME, help the projects, and help all the other GNOME components
that face similar challenges.

>  3 Which parts of the Gnome project do you think work well and would 
>    like to encourage further?
>    (charlieg)

I think the HIG has been a great success; the release team is working
very well; a lot of individual package maintainers are cranking out
great releases with high regularity. I don't think these areas really
need further encouragement. Areas I'd like to encourage while I'm on the
board include: advocacy to developers, documentation of the exciting
stuff GNOME is doing, and integration and desktop standards.

>  4 The GNOME team has been working on several features to promote use of 
>    GNOME in small and medium business environments, which will potentially 
>    deliver GNOME many users. What are you going to do to promote the use of 
>    GNOME within these environments?
>    (Theo)

Documentation of GNOME technologies and benefits is probably the most
important thing that we can do to encourage the adoption of GNOME by
business (after writing software that meets their needs). So, the board
needs to encourage the creation of such documentation, and work to make
it prominently available on the web, at tradeshows, to journalists, and
so forth. GNOME is only one component of a complete solution, so we
aren't going to be providing software directly to these people; that
doesn't make sense. But we want them to ask for GNOME.

Beyond that, we certainly need to be looking at how to make the free
desktop an appealing target for both open source and proprietary
developers; business users frequently have specialized software needs,
and the GNOME project can't meet all those needs by itself. We need
to provide a good platform ourselves and work with others on standards
for application integration, so that developers that don't use our
platform can still provide applications that integrate well into GNOME.

>  5 What do you see as current threats to the future of a complete Free 
>    Software desktop? And what would you like the GNOME Foundation to be 
>    doing to address these issues?
>    (coriodan)

Since open source is a better way to develop better software, the only
long term threats to a complete free software desktop are legal. 
Restrictive patent laws and patents granted on "inventions" that should
not be patentable are a big threat. An equally important threat is laws
that restrict the ability of users to run the software they want to run
with covers of security, piracy prevention, and so forth.

Lobbying and advocacy are very important tools to combat legal threats,
but we need to keep in mind that the most potent tool we have is
innovation. We must lead technologically and document that leadership.
We've done pretty well in the first category, much less well in the
second. Documented innovation removes the biggest argument that the
proprietary software vendors use in lobbying. And the more exciting and
useful we make our software, the more users out there that will benefit
from software freedom, and the more people who will object to having
that freedom taken away. 

>  6 What ideas, if any, do you have regarding GNOME and the rest of the 
>    world (as in not USA and other "central" countries) ?
>    (mariano)

While we have great contacts with individual developers around the
world, there are still lots of people interested in GNOME that are being
neglected, largely because they aren't fully comfortable with English.
I suspect that a more formalized structure for local contacts could 
help here. What I think would be really neat is if we had a way for
people to volunteer to act as "developer advocates". If you are an
Arabic speaker, and have an exciting patch for GTK+, but don't feel
comfortable mailing gtk-devel-list, we'd have somebody that you could go
to, who would help you communicate with the GTK+ developers.

On the user side, what we need to do is to work with local user
communities. There are certainly good efforts going on already for
various countries and languages. Probably the first step would be to get
in touch with these existing groups and see what they'd like the GNOME
project and foundation to be doing for them that isn't happening

>  7 What is your commitment to transparency and open books? Given this 
>    commitment what steps will you take over the next year to realize 
>    your vision?
>    (acuster)

There is no reason that the foundation shouldn't be 100% open about its
finances. I don't think there has been any intentional hiding of
information, so it's just a matter of priorities. I'll certainly support
getting the financial information up on the website in a timely fashion.

>  8 What would you do to increase community participation in the GNOME 
>    community and GNOME elections?
>    (g2devi)

For the purposes of getting candidates to announce before the last
moment, one important thing we can do is encourage people who *aren't*
running for reelection to say so early on. But in general, I think as
long as the board is seen as doing its job, I don't really expect to see
fierce election struggles.

>  9 Do you have any thoughts on how to expand the developer base?
>    (voz)

There are several important aspects to attracting developers. By far the
most important is quick feedback. There's nothing that discourages a
potential developer more than when they submit a patch and it just sits
there with no response. Beyond that, I think the second most important
factor is the ability to make small contributions easily; if just
getting the system built takes the whole weekend, the contributor never
gets to hacking.

I don't think there is actually much the board can do to help on these
aspects, other than keeping an eye on how things are going, and
encouraging individual maintainers. But there is one other area where
the GNOME board can make more of a difference, and that's encouraging
people to develop applications against the GNOME platform. That's
largely a matter of documentation and communication. Getting application
developers is essential, because working on your own application that
does something interesting to you is the fastest and best way to become
a strong developer. With a large community of strong developers, we'll
have no trouble finding people interested and able to work on the core
GNOME apps.

> 10 [Long introduction I hesitate to summarise, but I believe the gist
>    of the question to be] how do you propose to fix the lack of apparent 
>    structure or direction which causes a loss of momentum?
>    (anonymous)

To some extent, it's natural that things aren't changing as fast as they
once did ... when you looked at GNOME-1.0, it was easy to find all sorts
of things that could clearly be done better. GNOME as it exists today
is a mature desktop.

Most new ideas are, in fact wrong, so if we want to encourage innovative
new ideas, we need to figure out a structure that will allow people to
work on things that aren't necessarily right. If someone has a new idea
about how operations on selected operations should work in Nautilus, how
does he prototype and get some exposure on that idea without us
compromising the usability of the nautilus that we release in 2 months.
There are various things we can do:

 - Allow developers to get web space for their projects on
   and have a centralized directory of the active projects.
 - Encourage a very open policy toward branch creation; if you have
   some idea you want to develop in a branch in GNOME CVS, you can do

There some very good stuff going on in the area of documentation ... in
the GTK+ project we now have vast quantities of raw documentation.
What's lacking there is good getting started documentation that gives
you the information you need to start programming with GTK+. With my
GTK+ cap on, figuring out a how to get that documentation is one of my
very top priorities for the next year.

On the GNOME side, we have a second issue in that we don't have a
coherent recommendation of what libraries you should be using as an
application developer. It's a real political can of worms to try and
address this, but I think even if we aren't ready now to address this,
we need to be working actively to get there. We need a roadmap for the
developer platform.

Owen Taylor
18 November 2003

[Date Prev][Date Next]   [Thread Prev][Thread Next]   [Thread Index] [Date Index] [Author Index]