Popularity Contest

So, Vincent writes that with fewer people on the board, “maybe we’ll see the end of the popularity contest at the next elections”. Unfortunately, with fewer people on the board, and vastly less diversity in its composition, the ‘popularity contest’ problem will actually be exacerbated. Seven people simply can’t represent the diversity of the GNOME community, so I think that a more robust organisational structure is a better fix for the board’s inability to execute.

Sure, fewer people means the board will be able to make decisions more easily, but those decisions will be informed by a group that is less diverse and less representative of the entire GNOME community.

I’d prefer to make the board more effective, instead of making it more insulated!

Why I’m Voting "NO"

I’ve been meaning to write a usefully detailed email about why I’ll be voting
“NO” for the current GNOME Foundation referendum (about reducing the number of
board members), but with my insane travel schedule at the moment, I haven’t had
an opportunity to sit down and write it. A journalist (who hasn’t pushed out
an article yet, so I’ve not identified them or their publication here) asked me
a few questions the other day, so I’ve sent my answers along with a bit of commentary to foundation-list.

Lots of sensible people with experience on the board are voting “YES”. I think this is mostly out of frustration with the board’s inability to execute on a few difficult issues. They have outlined the board’s problems very well, but I think reducing the number of board members is not the right solution (even though I think 7 is the right number for most organisations). We need to foster a better understanding of the board’s role, and create positions of responsibility within it. Hrm, anyway, read my email above. I’ll be running for the board again this year, on this platform.

3BT: Cambridges, London and Amsterdam

3BT has been so crazy, I’ve hardly had a moment to scratch my arse (to use the Australian lingo). So now that I’m sitting here in Milan, with a cold sweat and stomach ache so bad I’m squinting, I finally have time to finish the blog story.

First stop was New Cambridge, home of the GNOME Boston Summit. I chuckled as I wandered across a commemorative plaque of William Dawes path to Lexington. (I had just been reading a comparison between him and the more memorable Paul Revere.) Lots of people at the summit, but heaps of cool stuff was done, particularly in the performance realm. 2.14 is truly going to rock the casbah. The Acetarium was full of smelly Nokia contractors, so I stayed at Luis and Krissa’s apartment. Luis is now a ‘Senior Technology Analyst’, or at least that’s what his business card says. Krissa said Luis almost ate my parting gift in one sitting… I will not buy furniture for Luis ever again. tigert took a great shot of the conference attendees on the last day:

GNOME Summit 2005 Group Photo

After some apparently entertaining mistakes navigating the tube, my next stop was Old Cambridge. Matthew Garrett gave me a tour of the university, pointing out the reality checkpoint, and that most of it was vastly older than my home country. “Oh, this college is at least four times older than your entire country, but the new wing at this end is probably only twice as old.” Had a very traditional bangers-and-mash pub dinner, and met up with some of the Cambridge Debian Mafia (it seems they can’t be in the same place all at once, unless it’s at Uncle Steve’s) for beers and various other forms of alcohol. Mmm, morning sickness.

Checked out the London office. They wear pants to work and have little family-around-the-table lunches. Decided to adopt these strange conventions during my stay. Discovered that NTK covered 3BT’s UK leg. NTK! Holy crap! Was very pleased to hear that Ubuntu won Best Distribution at LWE London, though somewhat disturbed by the celebratory antics employed by Mark and Jane. At least we have evidence.

Found GLLUG, who were holding a special first-ever weeknight meeting. Thanks to Dean Wilson for organising the meeting, and his kind review. After the talk, we joined up with the Ubuntu crowd to celebrate the release of Ubuntu 5.10. Bounced around the pub meeting everyone – lots of interesting people doing cool things with Free Software. Will have to visit GLLUG again when I pass by London. Finished up the night with a late, late dinner and good discussion about Ubuntu, Debian, the future of the software industry, and so on. Mmm, morning sickness again.

Arrived in Amsterdam for EuroOSCON. It was well attended, so I hope O’Reilly felt it was successful and worth repeating. Had fun doing my keynote, and received a lot of positive feedback about it, which was great. It was covered in an O’Reilly Network article about Remembering the End User, so I figure I got the message across. What’s with the profile shots? Gah. Here’s another profile of me being emphatic about my final message: Put your foot down. Demand freedom. (Had to give the OS X users some stick, but it was good to see a much healthier ratio of OS X to Linux than in the USA.) Amsterdam definitely lived up to its reputation – just outside the hotel was an enormous stone buttplug (yes, I’m aware it’s the war memorial, no disrespect intended… I tried this joke out numerous times before posting it here):

Dennis Kaarsemaker rallied the GNOME, Ubuntu and local LUG troops to the University of Amsterdam, where I spoke for two and a half hours about the amazing things happening in the GNOME and Ubuntu worlds. So much to talk about! Despite the astounding breakage of my demos, it turned out well. (Beagle diddled the xattrs on my /home partition slightly too hard, such that the OS switched it into forced read-only mode. It was okay after a fsck, and I’ve taken user_xattrs out of fstab.) Managed to get sucked into keysigning over beers… I knew having my GPG fingerprint on my business card was a bad idea! Was great to catch up with Seveas, Treenaks, Mitario, reinouts and the rest of the gang – thanks very much to Dennis for bringing everyone together!

Back at EuroOSCON, I took a leaf out of Tom Stoppard’s book, and did a much shorter version of my talk… With working demos! Much drooling over the 770, NetworkManager, f-spot, Beagle, and the great new features in Ubuntu 5.10. Good responses all round – it’s really surprising and nice to receive praise for spreading the news about the things I love. Fell over laughing at Damian Conway’s final keynote – I hope some of the corporate presenters were there to see it.

Next stop, Milan! Met Sebastiano Mestre (holding an Ubuntu sign!) at the airport, who very kindly drove me to the hotel. Turns out the new airport in Milan is a long way from the centre of the city. Had dinner and a short nap… Woke up feeling dreadful. Hoping I can rest this off before I see Pipka in Mérida, at the Open Source World Conference.


Pia and Denise

On the left, my wife Pia. Not one to pass up a challenge, Pia recently hit the local trade press with the announcement of her new gig. Rock.

On the right, my mother-in-law Denise. Apparently, she doesn’t like the swear words in my blog. I’m sure she prefers the pictures! (Muhaha, I am quite safe on the other side of the planet.)


I’m sitting in Martin Maly’s IronPython talk at EuroOSCON. He’s already mentioned Mono twice, noting that it has passed the IronPython test suite (“… and if it doesn’t right now, Miguel will fix it in a week or so, ha ha”). Not only is IronPython faster than CPython (using pystone), but with the latest .NET releases, IronPython’s performance is improving much faster than CPython’s (from 2.3 to 2.4).

Martin points out that their mailing list receives over 100 emails a month – 30% from Gmail, 3% from Hotmail! Two thirds of their bugs are reported by the community, but they’re not accepting contributions to the core… They’re not quite sure where IronPython is going, so they don’t want to make policy calls about it just yet. Seems like they’re still figuring out this whole community / Open Source thing. ;-) There’s a project on GotDotNet aiming to port the Python standard library to IronPython, so at least there’s some community projects happening around IronPython.

Cool demo of dynamically creating WinForms windows and widgets from IronPython’s ‘ip’ interactive shell (very familiar). Lots of interesting explanation of how to handle types between the statically typed languages and IronPython, and how to embed IronPython in an existing .NET app. Sweet! You just instantiate a PythonEngine object and diddle with it… Cue demos of extending applications with IronPython scripts, using Word objects from IronPython scripts inside a C# app, a “here’s-one-I-prepared-earlier” broken script to show off debugging of embedded scripts, and the IronPython console within Visual Studio (completion in the editor coming soon).

I wish the few roadblocks to greater adoption and contribution were not there… But it is very cool stuff.

The Face and The CDDL

Glynn Foster, The Face of Sun Microsystems, talks about OpenSolaris and JDS in the latest episode of James Purser’s Linux Australia Update podcast. You’ll have to wait until next fortnight’s installment for the GNOMEy bits of Glynn’s interview.

The Face of Sun Microsystems

There’s been a bit of anti-CDDL mish-mash on Planet GNOME this week, and a lot of it floating around in general. Here’s my POV: It’s Sun’s code, a fucking enormous contribution to the world of Open Source, and they can license it however the hell they like. Aside from a couple of nits that Sun seems keen to fix, the CDDL is a fine Open Source license – and progressive on the anti-proliferation front to boot.

Sure, it means they will be forced to build a parallel community for the system level stuff – but so what? Their code, their call. If there are compelling reasons to alter the license later on, that’s entirely doable. As Mark likes to say: “We are all consenting adults… (looking pointedly at cute young girls)… Right?”

Good Morning Synchronicity Lovers!

Wow, so, good morning synchronicity lovers! At 10:59 on #gnome-hackers today, I posted the following stupid hack:

<@jdub> wow
<@jdub> so
<@jdub> a .xsession like this:
<@jdub> gnome-settings-daemon &
<@jdub> metacity &
<@jdub> nautilus &
<@jdub> gnome-panel &
<@jdub> exec xterm
<@jdub> is *really* fast

Which I then improved as such:

if [ "xtrue" == "x$(gconftool-2 -g /desktop/gnome/interface/accessibility)" ]; then
  # should really set a bunch of GTK_MODULES environment variables
  # but will start xclock for hilarity's sake
  xclock &
gnome-settings-daemon &
gnome-panel &
nautilus --no-default-window &
exec metacity

This appears to be the most performant and visually pleasing start order, too. Unfortunately, the a11y bit needs to be at the start to set the environment up correctly. gnome-settings-daemon already kickstarts xscreensaver, and d-bus/ssh-agent are dealt with by the Ubuntu/Debian X scripts, so I don’t have to worry about those. I skipped a bunch of things that would usually be in a session, but a little bit of run-parts action could fix that nicely. ;-)

It’s fast… Surprisingly so… and it complies with the “No Splash Screen in 2.14″ challenge laid down by Luis. Do I win?

Big Kids and Little Kids

In early high school, I used to write games in QuickBasic. I spent a significant amount of time making a beautiful (relatively speaking) animated logo splash for my little programming efforts. A red M and a blue S would enter at the top and bottom of the screen and join together, the logo for my imaginary “McSoft” software development company. Yes, “Mc” and “Soft”. Oh, how things change. Underneath the logo I placed a standard copyright line, with a capital C in parentheses. That’s what the real software companies did, and I had grand aspirations.

Much earlier in life, I would draw pictures with coloured pencils or crayons. Many of these artworks were adorned with a standard copyright line, a nice big C in a circle and the year in roman numerals. That’s what all the TV shows on ABC had, and I would always try to catch the roman numerals as they passed by in the credits, to see which year the programme was recorded. It often surprised me how many shows I liked that were produced in the 1960s. (I’d say I was born in the wrong era, but I’m far too digital for that.)

I’ve seen a lot of kids do this. We play grownup games to practice being grownups. (Doctors and Nurses was good for this too, though we generally didn’t realise we were practicing to be grownup gynaecologists.) Adults, through their actions in society in general, communicate more to children about how to be adults and members of our society than we really take credit for. I knew what copyright was at a young age. I knew that all the grownups did it. I knew that all the creative things I saw in the world, that I wanted to be a part of, had copyright. It meant “I have created something, it is my achievement, I’m a big kid now”.


I have created something. It is my achievement. I’m a big kid now. And because big kids share lots of ideas with little kids, I’m going to tell the world that sharing is what I care about.

Creative Commons